Yoga is a great way to relax and stay fit during pregnancy. What many might not know is that yoga during the 9 months of pregnancy, also known as prenatal yoga, can help the expectant mother stimulate the baby’s growth and help prepare for labor.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga is a comprehensive fitness program that involves focused breathing, stretching and centering of mental energies. The benefits of yoga during pregnancy include:
- Better sleep
- Reduced anxiety levels and stress
- Reduced symptoms of pregnancy-related physical problems like lower back pain, shortness of breath, headache and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Reduced risk of pregnancy induced hypertension, premature labour, restriction of intrauterine growth
- Increased flexibility and strength of muscles, necessary during childbirth
- A chance to connect with other pregnant women and share the joys and stresses of pregnancy
What to expect?
Prenatal yoga sessions involve:
- Deep breathing – Yoga classes focus on deep and slow breathing and also include practising different breathing techniques. These are useful in managing shortness of breath that most pregnant women face, along with helping their way through labor contractions.
- Stretching – Gentle stretching of different body parts is encouraged.
- Postures – Different yoga postures build balance, flexibility and strength of muscles that help carry the weight of the growing baby and aid smooth labor.
- Relaxation and cooling down – The muscles are relaxed slowly while the heart and breathing rates get restored to normal.
Best Prenatal Yoga Postures
- Triangle pose – The triangle pose stretches the side body, legs and hips, and opens the shoulders.
- Extended side angle pose – Stretching the upper arm at an angle above the body extends the complete side body from the leg to the fingertips. This is helpful if a woman is feeling lethargic during the day.
- Cat or cow pose – This pose is performed in a kneeling position on the knees and hands with the torso at right angles to the floor. The cat and cow pose alternates between pulling and pushing of the back upwards and inwards, and is useful in providing relief from back pain.
- Sitting side stretch – This is performed by sitting cross-legged and extending an arm over the head, tilting it to the other side. It stretches the waist while opening the pelvis and side waist.
- Mountain pose – In a sitting position, arms are raised and palms joined in a ‘namaste’, with hands near the ears, keeping elbows straight.
- Child’s pose – This is a resting pose that starts on the hands and knees. The torso must be folded over the thighs and forehead should be brought down towards the floor.
- Twisted pose – This pose starts by sitting straight with feet stretched ahead. Arms are raised to shoulder level, keeping palm downwards. The body, along with head and hands, is then twisted from side to side.
- Butterfly pose – While sitting, outstretch the legs and bring the feet together. This pose strengthens the pelvic region and inner thighs.
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“Prenatal Yoga: 7 Pose Tutorials For Pregnant Moms-To-Be,” June 13, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/13/prenatal-yoga-pose-tutorials_n_3430850.html
“Prenatal yoga: What you need to know,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-yoga/art-20047193
“Top 8 Yoga postures for pregnant women,” Timesofindia.indiatimes.com, Ipshita Mitra, January 19, 2013, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/fitness/Top-8-Yoga-postures-for-pregnant-women/articleshow/14820868.cms
“5 Yoga Poses Every Pregnant Woman Should Know,” March 27, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/yoga-poses-pregnant_n_4961327.html