Pregnancy Yoga

Pregnancy Yoga

Assisting you through pregnancy, birth and beyond

How can pregnancy yoga nourish you?

Many women find that practising yoga during pregnancy helps them stay relaxed, fit and flexible, and research indicates it is a safe option[1] for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Working with a prenatal yoga instructor with specialised training in pregnancy and childbirth will best support you with suitable poses, breathing and relaxation techniques in addition to optimising lifestyle transitions.

Practicing yoga in pregnancy nourishes your body, mind and soul by improving circulation, minimising stress and relieving minor discomfort like back aches and oedema.

However, not all styles of yoga are suitable: some poses (asanas) may be too strenuous to be safe for mother and baby, and hot yoga should be avoided[2] due to a possible risk of hyperthermia. Any asana which involves lying on your belly, bending or twisting[3] in a way that puts pressure on your abdomen is also not recommended. 

If you have had strong yoga practice prior to pregnancy then continuing a modified practice during your first trimester may be fine as long as there has been no bleeding or spotting.  Do make sure to let your yoga teacher know you are pregnant. In most other cases it may be advisable to wait until the second trimester[4] before commencing.

Postnatal yoga can be a helpful way of supporting your recovery[5] from labour and birth as your body adjusts back into your non-pregnant state.  Postnatal yoga stretches and strengthens your body, gently assisting a gradual return to physical strength and encourages a soothing environment for babies to experience their own bodies alongside their mother’s bodies.

Instructors trained in yoga suitable for new mothers can recommend postures and techniques to help rebuild weakened abdominal muscles[6] and help you reconnect with your post-baby body. It is not recommended to practice a full yoga session until six weeks after a normal birth or eight weeks after a cesarean birth. As with pregnancy yoga, it is crucial to obtain the advice of your medical professional about undertaking yoga after giving birth

Benefits of pregnancy yoga

Randomised controlled trials consistently indicate that yoga is a more effective form of exercise[7] during pregnancy than walking or ‘standard’ prenatal exercises, and it can be safely practised by women at high risk or suffering from depression. There is evidence to suggest prenatal yoga significantly reduces women’s stress levels and improves immune function[8] during pregnancy. 

“Yoga-based interventions” are described as a “promising” alternative to medication[9] for pregnant women who are depressed, but more research is recommended. Stress during pregnancy has been associated with premature birth, developmental difficulties and other issues; practising yoga as a path towards reducing anxiety has been linked with a reduction in such problems[10].

There is evidence to suggest that prenatal yoga may reduce the duration of labour and the intensity of pain[11] experienced, and mindfulness-based yoga may have beneficial effects for pregnant women who have trouble sleeping[12].

Pregnancy yoga may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Anxiety
Back pain
Balance, stability and coordination
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
Childbirth and labour
Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
Concentration, focus and problem solving
Depression
Energy and vitality
Flexibility, endurance and strength
Headaches and migraines
Immunity issues
Insomnia and sleep disorders
Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
Pain relief
Posture and spine issues
Pregnancy, birth and antenatal support
Relaxation
Respiratory and breathing issues
Stress and tension
Vomiting and nausea
Weight control and obesity
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What to expect from a pregnancy yoga session

SoulAdvisor is clear about the qualification levels we expect from practitioners working in the field of pregnancy yoga. Those who are listed on our site have further qualifications beyond their basic yoga training to diploma level.  All practitioners listed on SoulAdvisor have undergone a strict approval process to ensure you will be receiving the very best care available.

Yoga for pregnant women may take a variety of formats, depending on the stage of your pregnancy, your general health and fitness, and whether you have practised yoga before. A prenatal yoga session will often include breathing exercises (pranayamas), guided relaxation and meditation[13]. Gentle stretches and ‘low-intensity’ Hatha poses are also included, some of which might be modified to minimise any potential risk. 

A popular feature of pregnancy yoga is the use of props such as straps, bolsters and blankets[14] to provide additional support and make the poses easier to perform. Studios with dedicated pregnancy yoga sessions also encourage fostering a community spirit among mums-to-be, as well as helping you bond with your baby[15].

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your midwife, doula, obstetrician or other medical professional before commencing pregnancy yoga. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or other health issue, or any concerns at all, discuss these with your pregnancy yoga instructor, who will be happy to address these and advise you on how the session can be adjusted to suit your individual requirements. 

References

  1. Safety of Yoga in Pregnancy | Obstetrics & Gynecology
  2. Prenatal Yoga | American Pregnancy Association
  3. Prenatal yoga: What you need to know | mayoclinic.org
  4. About prenatal yoga | Younga Yoga Studio
  5. Postpartum Yoga: Health Benefits and Safety Considerations | WebMd
  6. Yoga For Your Post-Pregnancy Body | Mother Nurture Yoga
  7. Effects of Yoga Intervention during Pregnancy | American Journal of Perinatology
  8. Effects of prenatal yoga on women’s stress and immune function across pregnancy: A randomized controlled trial | ScienceDirect
  9. A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga-based interventions for maternal depression during pregnancy | ScienceDirect
  10. Yoga can help keep expectant mothers stress free | sciencedaily.com
  11. Research Summaries for Normal Birth | The Journal of Perinatal Education
  12. Effects of Mindful Yoga on Sleep in Pregnant Women | Biological Research for Nursing
  13. Prenatal Yoga Poses for Each Trimester | yogajournal.com
  14. Pregnancy yoga: how to use yoga props to get comfy | spoiltyogi.com
  15. Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga | yogaashfield.com.au