So you’re pregnant, how exciting! Are you enjoying your pregnancy so far? Some women are lucky enough to have an easy pregnancy and many others have to work through a variety of challenging symptoms. Either way, pregnancy is a time to slow down and focus on taking care of yourself and your growing baby. Easier said than done right?!
So how can you fit in some self-care? Especially if you already have children? Start by attending a pregnancy yoga class once per week.
Yoga has lots of fantastic health benefits which you can read about in my previous blog “What are the benefits of yoga and is it for you“. But, specifically, it also has numerous benefits during pregnancy.
Here are my top 5 reasons for attending a pregnancy yoga class
1. It gives you time to connect with your baby and other mums-to-be
It can be hard to connect with your growing baby when life is busy around you. And it can be even harder if you’re in those early weeks of pregnancy when you are not yet showing and perhaps not feeling any movement. Pregnancy can also be isolating if you don’t have family or friends pregnant at the same time, so attending a pregnancy yoga class gives you the opportunity to meet other mums-to-be and share your pregnancy experience.
During a pregnancy yoga class, techniques to build that connection with your baby are often utilised. For example; visualisation exercises during relaxation and meditation practices; utilising poses which embrace your growing belly and yogic breathing exercises aimed at encouraging the flow of energy between you and your baby.
2. Yoga can help you adjust to the changes of pregnancy
As you are probably aware, your body goes through incredible physical transformations throughout your pregnancy. Your organs move out of the way for your baby to grow, your blood volume increases significantly and your hormones go wild (to name a few).
You also have the psychological aspect of pregnancy such as preparing for the changes a baby will bring in to your life, sharing your news with family and friends, telling your boss and preparing for maternity leave, and the list goes on.
Yoga gives you the time and space to put all of those thoughts on hold. Yoga helps you relax, to switch off your sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight mode) and switch on your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest mode). This not only allows you to release your psychological stress and worries, but also helps to modulate your stress hormones.
The movement of yoga encourages circulation and boosts your energy levels, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised. It can also reduce common pregnancy symptoms such as aches and pains, muscle cramps, fatigue and heartburn.
3. Yoga develops your inner strength and empowers you to trust in your body
Pregnancy is finite and labour lies ahead. Whether you are opting for a natural physiological birth, or whether you need to have a c-section, you will want to feel strong and empowered leading into your birth.
Pregnancy yoga incorporates poses which align with natural birthing principles and prepare you for the physical and emotional journey you will take during your birth. Yoga poses can be challenging, and a pregnancy yoga class is dynamic and active. During your class you will identify and draw on your inner strength to keep moving, but also learn when you need to stop and rest.
Yogic breathing (pranayama) and sound is often used during a pregnancy yoga class to mimic the breath and sound women make during the various stages of labour. By regularly practising calming breaths, active and controlled breathing, as well as sound exercises, you will be well prepared to draw on these skills during your birth.
Pregnancy yoga encourages you to listen to your body, to get to know the changes taking place and trust in yourself. Speaking from experience, all of these skills transfer to the labour room when the time comes.
4. Yoga builds strength and endurance
Carrying a growing baby is hard work. Keeping up your physical strength and even improving it throughout pregnancy can prepare you for the strength you need during labour, as well as to aid your recovery.
Yoga poses build strength through your whole body, particularly your legs, which need to be super strong when it comes to labour.
Yoga also strengthens your pelvic floor, a very important aspect of your genitourinary health. If you’re pregnant you will no doubt be aware of the importance of exercising your pelvic floor to reduce the risk of incontinence during pregnancy and after birth.
In your yoga practice you might be required to hold a pose for longer than is comfortable and this builds endurance not only physically but also mentally. A very important skill to learn heading into birth and motherhood. (Some days it feels like I’ve run a marathon after looking after two small children all day).
5. It’s fun!
Yes yoga is fun. It’s not all chanting, meditation and bending yourself into weird and wonderful shapes. It’s a place where you can relax and let go. It’s some time out for you to enjoy your pregnancy, and surrender to all the physical, emotional and spiritual changes you are going through. All you need to think about is you and your baby.
When is yoga not suitable for pregnancy?
Yoga is suitable for most pregnant women, unless your treating health practitioner has advised you not to exercise. However, there are some pregnancy conditions your teacher should be aware of so that appropriate modifications can be made for you during your class.
Types of conditions your teacher should be aware of include:
- High or low blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Morning sickness
- Back pain
- Pelvic girdle pain – if you have severe pelvic girdle pain you may need to have a one on one session to ensure all poses support your pelvic stability
- A history of miscarriage
If you have any of the above conditions (or something else) it doesn’t mean yoga is not suitable for you. Just make sure you find a knowledgeable yoga teacher who can modify the class to suit you.
Feel free to get in touch with me to chat about whether our pregnancy yoga class is for you. You can call 03 9620 9503 or email lee@lavidahealth. Or better yet, take up one of our introductory offers for our yoga studio and join me for a class. I hope to see you on the mat!