Prenatal yoga classes are more popular than ever. When paired with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking, yoga can be an ideal way to stay in shape during your pregnancy. This age-old practice keeps you limber, tones your muscles, and improves your balance and circulation, with little, if any, impact on your joints.
Yoga is also beneficial because it helps you learn to breathe deeply and relax, which will come in handy as you face the physical demands of labor, birth, and motherhood. In fact, one of the first things you learn in a yoga class is how to breathe fully. The breathing technique known as ujjayi requires you to take in air slowly through your nose, filling your lungs, and exhale completely until your stomachcompress.
BENEFITS OF PRENATAL YOGA
Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.
For example, studies have suggested that prenatal yoga can:
- Improve sleep
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
- Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath
- Decrease the risk of preterm labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction — a condition that slows a baby’s growth
Practicing yoga safely during your pregnancy:
First, you should always consult your physician to find out what precautions are specific to each expectant mother.
The general rule is usually that a woman can continue with movements that she is accustomed to practicing before pregnancy (some may need to be modified) and not to take on any new challenging poses during pregnancy.
Also, it’s important to be aware of any other pre-existing physical limitations. Not one yoga practice will suit all pregnant women. Each woman must work according to her conditions. For most women, they may find that they can do most yoga without much modification during the first 17 weeks of pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent.
A typical prenatal yoga class may involve:
- Breathing. You’ll be encouraged to focus on breathing in and out slowly and deeply through the nose. You may also practice different breathing techniques and making deep sounds, such as humming or grunting. Prenatal yoga breathing techniques may help you reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy and work through contractions during labor.
- Gentle stretching. You’ll be encouraged to gently move different areas of your body, such as your neck and arms, through their full range of motion.
- Postures. While standing, sitting or lying on the ground, you’ll gently move your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength, flexibility and balance. Props — such as blankets, cushions and belts — may be used to provide support and comfort. You’ll also continue to focus on your breathing.
Cool down and relaxation. At the end of each prenatal yoga class, you’ll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm. You may be encouraged to listen to your own breathing, pay close attention to sensations, thoughts and emotions, or repeat a mantra or word to bring about a state of self-awareness and inner calm.
Prenatal yoga classes are more popular than ever?
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