How can pregnancy yoga nourish your soul?
Many women find that practising yoga during pregnancy helps them stay relaxed, fit and flexible, and research indicates it is a safe option for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. However, not all styles of yoga are suitable: some poses (asanas) may be too strenuous to be safe for mother and baby, and Bikram yoga should be avoided due to a possible risk of hyperthermia. Any asana which involves lying on your belly, bending or twisting in a way that puts pressure on your abdomen is also not recommended.
In some cases, for example if you are suffering from severe morning sickness or your pregnancy is classed as high-risk, it may be advisable to wait until the second trimester before commencing. The safest option is to seek a prenatal yoga instructor with specialised training in pregnancy and childbirth, who will be able to support you and advise you on the most suitable exercises.
Postnatal yoga can be a helpful way of supporting your recovery from the exhausting process of labour and birth. Instructors trained in yoga suitable for new mothers can recommend exercises to help rebuild weakened abdominal muscles and help you reconnect with your post-baby body. 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 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 during pregnancy.
“Yoga-based interventions” are described as a “promising” alternative to medication 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.
There is evidence to suggest that prenatal yoga may reduce the duration of labour and the intensity of pain experienced, and mindfulness-based yoga may have beneficial effects for pregnant women who have trouble sleeping.
Pregnancy yoga may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Back pain
- Balance, stability and coordination
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
- Childbirth and labour
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Concentration, focus and problem solving
- 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
- Respiratory and breathing issues
- Stress and tension
- Vomiting and nausea
- Weight control and obesity
What to expect from a pregnancy yoga session
Searching online will reveal plenty of options if you’re wondering, “Where can I find a studio specialising in pregnancy yoga near me?” It’s advisable to ask your instructor about their qualifications and experience in this field. 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. Gentle stretches and ‘low-intensity’ Hatha poses are also included, some of which might be modified to minimise any potential risk.
Pregnancy yoga sessions tend to be relatively short in duration, often taking about 30 minutes. A popular feature is the use of props such as straps, bolsters and blankets 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.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your 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.