Yoga is a safe and enjoyable way to exercise while pregnant.
Yoga is a great way to stay fit, and it’s so much more than just exercise. Through regular yoga practice you will connect with yourself and your baby, discover a new community of mothers-to-be, reduce stress and physical discomfort, and experience easier pregnancy and labour. Here are some of the most important benefits of pregnancy yoga.
Calming effect on the nervous system
It’s no secret that your emotional state during pregnancy affects your baby. If you’re calm and relaxed, you’re not only giving yourself an opportunity to enjoy this precious time in your life, you’re also creating a happy environment for your baby to grow in.
Yoga will help you reduce the effects of everyday stress by encouraging you to stay in the present moment, connect with your breath and your body. A single session of yoga has been found to reduce expectant mothers’ anxiety by one third and lower the level of stress hormones by 14%. When you participate in a pregnancy yoga class, you will find even bigger emphasis on slowing down and relaxation than in a regular class.
More comfortable pregnancy
As your body is changing, you may experience some not-so-pleasant symptoms – back pain, tense neck and shoulders, cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome and weak pelvic floor. Pregnancy yoga classes are designed to strengthen your core stability and pelvic floor muscles. It also involves a lot of stretching to relieve your back, neck, shoulders and hips.
It’s unfortunate that during pregnancy, when you need a lot of rest, insomnia is a common complaint. Regular practice of yoga, especially if you begin in the second trimester, results in better and longer sleep, and fewer awakenings during the night.
Preparation for labour
Research shows that pregnancy yoga contributes to shorter and less painful labour. Through yoga women learn to connect with their bodies, which helps them feel more in control while they’re giving birth.
Pregnancy yoga classes include breathing exercises in preparation for labour. Breathing is an excellent tool to manage pain. It also helps use the muscles that are involved in birthing the baby in the most efficient and gentle way. Imagine breathing the baby out (as opposed to pushing the baby out) and you immediately feel more peaceful, whether you’re just thinking about the labour or you’re in the middle of it.
Bonding with your baby
In your busy day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget to stop and wonder at the developing miracle inside you. When you come to yoga class, you’re dedicating time to focus on your pregnancy. You will have the opportunity to relax, become aware of how you’re feeling and connect with your baby. You will notice that your bond is growing stronger and stronger over time.
A sense of belonging
Social support is vital for your emotional wellbeing during pregnancy and after birth, but you may not always find a supportive community in your existing network of family and friends. When you come to pregnancy yoga, you will meet other mothers-to-be, who have the same worries, challenges and joys. You will build a circle of friends, who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Often these friendships last beyond the birth of your child. When the baby comes, you will already have a network of mums in your local area.
By now you’re probably thinking…
‘Pregnancy yoga sounds amazing! When can I start?’
Yoga is beneficial in all stages of pregnancy, but before you jump in, it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you’re still in your first trimester, you might be nauseous and tired, and would rather stay in bed than come to a yoga class. If that’s the case, take all the rest you need. Wait until the nausea is over and you’re feeling a surge of new energy, which usually happens at the beginning of the second trimester. You can continue to come to classes until you’re ready to give birth.
Feeling great and can’t wait to get started? Talk to your doctor first to make sure yoga is right for you, and once you get medical clearance, come along to our class.
Living Flow Yoga Ashfield holds regularly Pregnancy Yoga Classes on Saturday mornings, 11am to 12pm (currently suspended due to Coronavirus impact). And if you’re reading this during the Covid-19 pandemic why not join us for the Calm and Connection Prenatal Live-Stream Class and Q&A on May 24, 2020.