What is Prenatal Yoga? An excellent way to prepare women for childbirth, prenatal yoga has all the known benefits of yoga practice but is tailored to meet the needs of expecting moms. By practicing prenatal yoga, moms-to-be learn more about their changing bodies, connect with their unborn child, and prepare their bodies for childbirth. In fact, many health experts recommend yoga as a type of childbirth preparation class.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Classes
Prenatal yoga classes focus on breathing, stretching, postures, mental centering, and relaxation. Research confirms that prenatal is safe throughout pregnancy and offers the following benefits:
- Back, neck and shoulder tension relief
- Strengthening of the lower back and hips
- Reduced back pain
- Reduced anxiety
- Excellent breath work practice (preparation for breathing during labor contractions)
- Increased flexibility of muscles used during childbirth
- Reduced nausea
- Fewer headaches
- Better quality of sleep
- Lower risk of preterm labor and hypertension
- Sense of community by meeting and interacting with other expecting mothers
- Opportunity to give/receive support regarding the stresses of parenting
Prenatal Yoga Precautions
Depending on which trimester women are in as well as their personal health situation, there are certain styles of yoga and some yoga poses which are not recommended during pregnancy.
While gentle hatha yoga is the practice of choice, power yogas or more strenuous forms such as Bikram (hot yoga) and Ashtanga yoga should be avoided. Some of the yoga poses which should be avoided are: backbends, handstands, headstands, camel, twisting poses, and poses balancing on one leg.
Prenatal Yoga Safety Guidelines
While deemed safe for pregnant women, the experts offer the following prenatal yoga safety guidelines:
- Consult with your health-care professional before starting any yoga program to rule out any unforeseen risks
- Pace yourself (listen to your body!)
- Avoid postures which cause pain or put too much pressure on your abdomen or belly
- Use props to assist you and to support your changing center of gravity
- Stay hydrated (avoid overheating)
- Know your limits
- Shorter consistent workouts are sufficient to help prepare for labor
- If you experience pain, bleeding, or unexpected contractions, contact your health provider immediately
Why Doctors Recommend Prenatal Yoga
Doctors also recommend prenatal yoga as a means of calming the nervous system, developing the strength necessary to carry the baby’s extra weight, improving balance as the fetus grows, and becoming more aware of changes happening in a woman’s body.
Finally, prenatal yoga is an opportunity for expecting moms to take some time out to pamper and nurture themselves – ultimately benefitting their baby too.