Women are really hormonal during pregnancy and emotions are heightened, which means they also often easily get tired, stressed, or panicked. Prenatal yoga is a good way to help women cope with the physical and mental changes that pregnancy brings, and also to stay physically fit and make it easier to get rid of pregnancy weight after the baby is born. If you're pregnant and looking for a low-impact exercise routine, you should consider doing yoga for pregnant women with routines that are tailored specifically with you and your baby's health in mind.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
During pregnancy, the body releases certain hormones that make women more emotional and prone to stress. Low-impact exercise will help in maintaining biochemical balance and enable women to better deal with pregnancy changes. Yoga for pregnant women also improves circulation and increases mobility, something that a lot of pregnant women struggle with when their feet start to swell and as their tummies get bigger and heavier.
There are a lot of yoga poses that strengthen the knees and joints, as well as stretch the back and open the hips. All of these are greatly beneficial to pregnant women because it will help them adapt to the changes going on with their bodies. Stronger knees and joints mean they can better manage the additional weight, and opening the hips can help make childbirth easier.
The leg and back pain that pregnant women commonly experience will also be more manageable because prenatal yoga for beginners classes involve doing poses and exercises that stretch and work the back and leg muscles. The meditative elements of yoga will help pregnant women become more attuned to their bodies, and teach techniques that will help them keep calm during stressful moments. The breathing exercises done in sessions of yoga for pregnant women are also very helpful because it will make them better able to manage pain and tension during childbirth.
Best Yoga Poses for Pregnant Women
Obviously, not all yoga poses will be suitable or recommended if you have a bun in the oven. For example, the Forward Fold is a no-no because it will compress your stomach and may cause strain to your baby. However, doing yoga for pregnant women also doesn't mean you'll be missing out on all the good action. Here are some poses that will not only suit your fabulous pregnant self, but also make you and your baby physically and mentally healthier.
The Cat Cow Pose and Stretch
To do the Cat Cow Pose and Stretch, slowly and carefully go on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees at a hip-width distance. As you inhale, do the Cow Pose and drop your belly, lift your head towards the ceiling. At this point, your back should be making a downward curve. The movement should start from the tailbone to the spine, so that your head moves last and is lifted only at the deepest part of the inhale. When you exhale, do the Cat Pose and round the spine so that your back is at an upward arch. Drop your head as you do this, with your gaze directed at your navel.
Baddha Konasana or Cobbler's Pose
Whether it be a regular yoga for beginners class, or a class that teaches yoga for pregnant women, the Cobbler's Pose is one of the best positions to start the session with. This is especially helpful to pregnant women because it opens the hips and stabilizes the pubic bone, an area where a lot of women experience discomfort the closer they get to the last month or trimester of the pregnancy.
To do the Baddha Konasana, sit on the mat and bend your legs, slowly bringing your feet closer to the pubic bone with the heels touching. Remember to keep your back straight and to only work at a level that's comfortable for you. The closer you bring your heels to your groin, the more stretch you get. If it's not too uncomfortable, you can also try to make your knees touch the ground when your feet are close to the groin to make the hips open wider.
Balasana or Child's Pose
While the standing Forward Fold is a no-no, a good variation that you can do for bending positions is the Child's Pose. To do the Balasana, start by going down on your knees, keeping them hip-width apart, and bringing your feet closer together so that the toes are touching. Then, lower your body so that the buttocks are resting on the heels.
Make sure you keep your knees apart at a distance that will accommodate the size of the baby. Slowly bend forward and extend your arms out in front of you, palms touching the floor, your forehead touching the ground. Hold this position as you inhale deeply and breathe out. The Child's Pose is known to help reduce nausea especially during the first trimester, and also reduce edeme or swelling in the legs.
Prenatal Yoga Safety and Precautions
Now if all you've read so far all sound well and good, and you're ready to sign up for a yoga for beginners classes, the next important thing you would need to know are the safety precautions in doing yoga for pregnant women. One, make sure you choose a class that teaches poses suitable for how far along you are in the pregnancy. This is because some poses may be suitable for those who are only a couple of weeks or months into the pregnancy, but can be uncomfortable for those in their third trimester.
Two, always remember that while it's good to do the poses in a way that gets optimal results, you and your baby's comfort and safety should always come first. If you experience pain or severe discomfort at any point while doing a pose, stop and call the attention of your yogi so he or she can provide suggestions on how you can do or hold a position more comfortably. Yoga for pregnant women can be challenging, but it's even better if you can do the poses at a safe and comfortable pace that won't endanger you or your baby.
Lastly, make sure you have the appropriate yoga mat and clothes to do yoga. Wear comfortable, lightweight, and non-restrictive clothes. If you notice your hands tend to get slippery on the mat when you start sweating, feel free to use gloves (or also socks, if applicable) so you can have a better grip. Safety is of utmost importance in yoga especially if you're pregnant and this is your first yoga for beginners class.