Pregnancy is a very exciting and exhausting time in a mother’s life. Women are engaged in the creation of a new life. It consumes their body, emotions, mind and spirit. In some cases it can leave them feeling stressed, unsupported or fearful. Prenatal Yoga includes postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques that can help by toning the body, relaxing the mind, and calming the spirit to prepare for labour. All poses are modified specifically for the needs of a pregnant woman, and adapted with each trimester. This rejuvenating practice will help mothers create a deep bond with their babies during pregnancy, and prepare them for what’s to come after they give birth.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Strengthen and tone the body to help manage the pain of contractions.
Strengthen and stabilize joints to improve balance.
Open the hips to ease labour.
Ease moodiness, backache, and sciatica.
Improve circulation to reduce swollen ankles.
Reduce stress, and improve sleep.
Energize the entire body, mind, and spirit.
Most importantly, as the practitioner listens and connects to her body, mind and spirit through yoga she will facilitate a deep and profound connection with her baby.
What to Expect in a Prenatal Class
A combination of hip opening and strength building yoga poses with soothing stretches. Modifications will be made to each pose depending on where the practitioner is at in her pregnancy. All classes begin with a guided meditation to focus on throughout class and include relaxing and inspirational music to guide and encourage expectant mothers. During pregnancy challenging poses are not out of the question. The practitioner needs to focus on the breath and use it as a guide. If at any time her breath is compromised, she needs to shift the shape of the pose or take a short rest to be able to keep smooth, steady breathes.
Learn various breathing techniques that will benefit mother and child:
Practicing Ujjayi breathing (Victorious Breath) for at least 10 minutes a day can help to focus on the present moment and promotes relaxation.
Nadi Shodhana, (Alternate Nostril Breathing), this soothing practice can help balance the body’s energy flows.
Birthing breath, this is a helpful technique to practice during the pregnancy to not forget how to breathe during the labor. It helps to manage pain and ease contractions.
These techniques can also improve sleep, reduce moodiness, and ease shortness of breath.
We focus on relaxing the mind, as well as the muscles of the body while taking into consideration the enhanced emotions a woman can have during pregnancy. One form of relaxation is meditation, which can reduce stress and improve the ability to concentrate.
What We Are Aware of
Our teachers are aware of the changes that occur in the body during pregnancy. Here are some of the precautions and modifications we teach. The body produces a hormone throughout pregnancy called relaxin. This hormone’s intent is to soften your inflexible parts (like bones and ligaments) to make room for the baby and to prepare for birth. This softening of the ligaments can make them vulnerable to over stretching. Deep twists from the belly compress the internal organs, including the uterus. Instead, twist more gently from the shoulders. A safe adaptation is to do an open twist instead. Any Pranayama (practice of the breath) requiring retention or rapid inhales and exhales should be avoided. Deep back bends should be avoided unless they are part of your regular practice. If you are completely comfortable with back bends, you may continue to do them in the first trimester.
Intense abdominal work should be avoided. Your abs should be allowed to soften a bit to be able to adapt to the stretching that is to come.
If it’s comfortable, poses that involve lying on the belly can be practiced, but only in the first trimester.
In your second trimester, your doctor may advise against lying on your back for long periods, even encouraging you to sleep on your side. You can start doing Corpse Pose lying on your left side as early in your pregnancy as you like.