Pregnancy yoga is increasingly recommended because it is a gentle way of maintaining or gaining fitness while reducing anxiety with breathing and relaxation techniques. The yoga practices are selected and adapted to ensure that they are safe and most appropriate for pregnant women.
the benefits of yoga during pregnancy
Practising yoga in pregnancy can help to physically prepare the body for birth building strength, energy and agility and improve posture and alignment. It creates space and increases comfort and ease in the body as baby grows up towards the ribcage.
Yoga encourages greater body awareness, a sense of well-being and helps build confidence and trust.
Emotions can be up and down during pregnancy due to the extra hormones in the system, yoga can improve the quality of breathing which will calm the nervous system. Through the breath and movements energy can be increased and a sense of relaxation and calm. Yoga can help to create a bond with baby prior to birth.
The breath is a powerful tool to help energise and calm the nervous system and promote physical and emotional wellbeing which is particularly important in pregnancy when it is very common to feel tired. It can help to reduce anxiety (fear and tension tend to increase pain) through specific breathing techniques which can be used during labour.
Rather than pelvic muscle tone, pregnancy yoga promotes elasticity and stability, that are the best foundation for birth and postnatal recovery
Yoga provides a multitude of physical and emotional benefits that can enhance the whole experience of pregnancy and birth. Many common complaints in pregnancy such as tiredness, back pain, general discomfort due to the growing weight of the baby, swelling of the ankles and hands, can be alleviated through yoga.
the three stages of pregnancy
the first trimester (0 – 14 weeks)
During the first 14 weeks it is recommended to do very little, there are so many hormonal changes in the body there is often sickness and extreme tiredness experienced. The emphasis should be on rest and relaxation. It is not recommended to start pregnancy yoga until the second trimester.
the second trimester (14 – 30 weeks)
Now pregnancy is firming, established hormone levels begin to balance out; practising pregnancy yoga at this time is ideal to build strength and comfort as baby begins to grow.
Hormonal changes in pregnancy can mean that muscles and ligaments soften in pregnancy and it is important not to overstretch, particularly for those already naturally flexible (especially dancers, experienced yogis, gymnasts) and avoid hyper-extension through the joints. Postures in class are practised in a more fluid way, rather than held statically, to avoid over stretching.
Pregnancy yoga will help to improve posture as well as ease and prevent back problems, which are common in pregnancy due to the growing weight of baby.
the third trimester (30+ weeks)
The aim of yoga now is to help increase comfort and prepare physically mentally and spiritually for the birth. After 30 weeks it is not recommended to lie on the back (the weight of the baby can press on the main vein and artery that run through the body and cause discomfort) so alternatives will be offered for both prone and supine postures. The focus now is on increasing comfort and using the breath to calm and prepare for birth.
“The ancient self-help system of yoga promotes mental and physical well-being and balance, which is vital during times of transition or uncertainty. Pregnancy and giving birth involve great physical and emotional changes and knowing how to use and adapt yoga technique to breathe, move and relax during this time will help lay deep foundations for decades of mothering.” – Francoise Barbira Freedman
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