The incredible benefits of prenatal yoga
Your body goes through all sorts of changes during pregnancy – some expected, some less so.
You deserve all of the self-care tools you can get your hands on to aid you on your pregnancy journey. You have your prenatal vitamins, your chiropractor on speed dial, and maybe even tried acupuncture.
How about prenatal yoga?
What is Prenatal Yoga?
The word yoga literally means “egg yolk”. Yogic practices are based on the idea of integrating body, mind and spirit. Yoga encompasses so many different practices outside of the Western view of movement-based practices. Prenatal yoga typically emphasizes the importance of gentle movement and strength building, connected breath work, as well as rest and mediation.
Prenatal yoga was specially developed for pregnant people. It uses exercises that are safe and gentle for the pregnant body and will help alleviate the discomfort that can come with pregnancy. Some studies have shown that prenatal yoga can help improve pregnancy, labor, and birth outcomes.
Other differences you will find with prenatal yoga are that you may move a little slower than other yoga classes. It is recommended not to lie on your back as this may put pressure on your organs after the first trimester, be encouraged to use additional props for support, and there will be few or more supported backbends and twists.
Benefits of prenatal yoga
Lowers the stress level: With all of these changes and the expectation of being a parent to a new person, it’s understandable to feel stressed out during pregnancy. Yoga can help reduce stress and stabilize your mood. Prenatal yoga can even improve results in people with high-risk pregnancies by reducing stress levels.
Helps with energy and sleep: Sleep can be easily compromised during pregnancy. Whether it’s a constantly full bladder or you’re unable to sleep in your usual positions, sleep deprivation can take its toll. Yoga can help with this. When your stress level is lower, you will usually find it easier to sleep. It can also help with pain that can keep you up at night.
Pregnancy pain: If pregnancy pain sounds familiar to you, this is another reason to try prenatal yoga. Back and joint pain can be unbearable during pregnancy. The gentle movements and stretches used in prenatal yoga can help alleviate some of this.
Helps you prepare for work: Squats and leg strengthening exercises will come in handy when it’s time for your big moment. Gentle hip openers can help prepare your pelvis and joints for labor. Not to mention the prior practice of meditations and breathing exercises, which become invaluable tools during labor.
Community house: If you are able to attend a class even if it’s online, prenatal yoga is a great opportunity to make new friends. Not just friends, but people who are pregnant at the same time as you. This is a special bond and gives you the opportunity to plan future game dates!
Self care: Prenatal yoga gives you the opportunity to have some time with me. You are preparing to bring another person into your life and into the world. It’s important to practice what it means to have time for yourself and prioritize your own wellbeing – so that you can be the best parent you can be.
Things to consider
Customize your practice: If you had a yoga practice before you became pregnant, there are parts of it that you can keep and adjust as needed. For those of you new to yoga, there is no need to push yourself to achieve and “get better”. You are there for your own health and wellbeing.
Give your teacher a clue: If the class you’re attending isn’t specifically a prenatal class, let your instructor know you’re pregnant so they can make the right changes for you.
Watch out for overstretching: People tend to be more flexible during pregnancy because of the hormone relaxin. Relaxin helps relax the ligaments in the pelvis and helps widen the cervix. If you are already fairly flexible, consider using additional blocks, straps, or props to support you so that you don’t overstretch.
Your needs will change: What you need from your yoga practice will change during your pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to adapt and change it as needed. Also, keep in mind that your center of gravity will change constantly as your pregnancy progresses.
Listen to your provider: Follow your intuition, but also listen to your doctor’s recommendations. When you’re in bed rest or when you’re asked to relax, try simple stretching exercises or breathing exercises from the bed.
Listen to your body: It’s okay if prenatal yoga doesn’t feel right to you. You don’t have to push yourself to do something that doesn’t feel good when you’re pregnant – or in general. Stop if you feel dizzy or weak, if you have cramps or pain, or if you have difficulty breathing. Fortunately, there are so many things you can do under the umbrella of prenatal yoga. There is probably something for you.
Don’t forget to rest: When it comes to yoga, rest is just as important, if not more important, than exercise. Give yourself space to relax deeply at the end of your yoga practice and practice “Savasana”. You can also opt for a yin or restful yoga class, which should provide a lot of relaxation.
Are you ready to try prenatal yoga? Find a local studio or go on social media to find an instructor who resonates with you. There are many resources online, including free ones like YouTube, that allow you to try prenatal yoga from the comfort of your own home. Relax and enjoy!