Prenatal Yoga Explained!
Carrying another life within your own body is a very beautiful feeling, however, this comes with its own challenges. The nine months of your pregnancy is the time when there are not only major changes in the body but also emotionally and mentally. You are carrying your baby and you want to do the best for your baby.
There are lots of factors influencing the unborn baby; your physical activity, your thoughts, your diet, your discipline and your routine all affect the growth and development of your baby. This is also very important for the baby’s physical and mental health after birth. The more relaxed mother is, the same emotions pass to the unborn and create a long-term impact. It’s very important to follow a very healthy lifestyle right from the day you get to know you are expecting.
It is very important to eat nutritious healthy meals in time, to move around and do physical activity like walking, prenatal yoga, sleep well and in time, do Mediation to keep your self calm and mentally stable, and follow a disciplined life where you have a good timetable of your activities. You must avoid consuming alcohol and smoking during pregnancy. It’s very important to get your regular checkups done by your doctor.
The first three months are very critical wherein the fetus is getting placed so it's very critical to take all the care in your movements. It’s important to consult your doctor before you plan to start a prenatal yoga practice. Yoga, as we know, is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices to bring the mind-body and soul connection. Prenatal yoga is very important for the physical body as well as the emotional state to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.
In the first trimester, there are few basic postures and movements that should be done to keep the body fit and prepare for the next trimesters. Since there are no major changes in the external body in the first trimester but a lot of internal bodily changes, our practice should also focus on this aspect. The kind of movements that we should be doing in the first trimester is Neck rotations, shoulder rotations, arms stretches, small joints movements (Sukshma Vyayam), slow legs stretch, ankles and feet movements. These movements along with deep breathing and relaxation help the body deals with the internal hormonal changes. This keeps the body healthy and strong.
There are certain things to take care of:
You should start with simple poses to build up your flexibility; you may use cushion, pillows, chair or wall to take support and balance;
Completely avoid backbends, planks, or twists that put pressure on the belly;
Give enough time to relax at the end of the class and proper breathing throughout the asanas;
Listen to your body and never over push yourself;
Modify these poses based on comfort level and physical health and practice;
It is advisable to practice under the supervision of a good instructor.
Second trimester onwards when the fetus is more stable we can introduce more asanas to strengthen the legs, pelvic region, thighs, calves, lower and middle back along with shoulders. Let's understand why is it important to do prenatal yoga. We come across many women who are actually very scared to start yoga during pregnancy, they think moving their body much, or side bends, sitting in squats etc. are all to be avoided during pregnancy. We need to understand that body needs to be mobile and active with strong muscles and bones for this period.
Since there are many physiological changes like increased pressure on the bladder, muscle mobility reduces which can cause stiffness and pain in the back, body alignment changes, the abdominal muscles are stretched throughout the pregnancy, thus there is a loss of tone and strength. Also since the body produces high levels of the hormones estrogen and relaxin during pregnancy which cause the ligaments to soften and allow the pelvis to be more flexible. These ligaments hold the bones together in the body. The pelvic bones start moving to make it possible to give birth to your child.
Yogic practices and diet are most important during pregnancy as well as throughout labour and on birth outcomes. It improves neuro-muscular coordination, sleep, quality of life, reduces stress, anxiety and increases the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth.
Prenatal Yoga is the way to maintain a healthy mind and body as it focuses on poses for pregnant women, in order to increase strength and flexibility. It also helps to develop proper breathing and relaxation techniques for easier and more comfortable labour.
Some of the benefits of prenatal yoga are:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
Decrease lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath
Reduce stress and anxiety
This improves sleep
Gives focused time for yourself
You connect with your baby while you are going yoga and relaxation
Helps you to be mindful of the changes and appreciate everything without judging yourself
Helps deal with postpartum depression better
Helps the body to find its way back to its original shape much faster after delivery
Yoga helps release oxytocin which is a happy hormone which keeps moms to be relaxed and happy
Not only doing warm-up and yogic postures are beneficial, but even relaxation in adapted Shavasana is also very important. It's important to lie down on your side comfortably and do Shavasana and not lie down on your back. Breathing exercises are very important during pregnancy; this ensures efficient removal of toxins and a plentiful supply of oxygen for both mom and the baby. However, it is not advisable to hold your breath during pranayama in pregnancy as it can restrict oxygen supply to the baby. Alternate nose breathing in Anulom Vilom Pranayama is a very important technique that should be practised. Along with that deep Yogic breathing and Ujjayi Breathing is also very helpful.