Yoga lovers are bound to want to practice while pregnant, but doing so can certainly pose some challenges. After all, throughout a pregnancy, your body's constantly changing. This can lessen your range of motion and you may have to modify poses or skip some altogether in order to accommodate your growing bump. We are here to explain the vast benefits of yoga for pregnancy and then, most importantly, give you some tips to comfortably and effectively practice yoga when you’re expecting.
The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
There are many benefits of prenatal yoga. Below are just a few of the many:
Increased strength and stamina
Carrying around the extra weight that comes with growing a person is not easy to do! The more your baby grows, the more strength and energy you’ll need. Yoga helps to build those levels.
It works to calm your nervous system
Because of the deep breathing exercises associated with yoga, your nervous system enters parasympathetic mode, which makes you more relaxed. This helps your digestive system work better, can help you get a better night’s sleep, and works to heighten your immune system.
Preparation for labor
Yoga can actually help you and your body prepare for labor. This is because yoga requires that you breathe through the exercises, even when they are uncomfortable or challenging. This is much like labor, where you must use breathwork to work through the tension and pain that is associated with the process.
Tips for Yoga for Pregnancy
Now that we’ve delved into some of the reasons to practice yoga while you’re pregnant, let’s get to the tips on how to master it during those nine months.
Allow yourself to slow down
Even if you’re a yoga guru, practicing while pregnant is bound to change your pace during class, especially once you hit your second trimester. Listen to your body and don’t push your limits. Remember that yoga is no longer about just you, it’s also about your growing baby, too!
Avoid certain poses
During pregnancy, there are several yoga poses that you should avoid. First, it’s important to avoid all poses that require you to lay on your belly as it can cause pressure that should not be placed on your growing baby. The Locust Pose is a good example of one to avoid. Also steer clear of poses that put too much pressure on your core, especially when it comes to getting in and out of the pose. For instance, the Plow Pose and Plank Cross should both be avoided during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, hydration is extremely important. In order to stay energized during class, have a bottle of water with you at all times and drink an adequate amount of water prior to class starting. Dehydration can lead to preterm or false labor, particularly later on in your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone called “relaxin”, which helps to relax your ligaments in order to allow your baby to be birthed through your pelvis. However, the effect of this isn’t limited to your pelvic area, causing the ligaments through your entire body to be more relaxed. For this reason, you should limit your range of motion during yoga. Always be in-tune with what motions feel painful and modify them accordingly to fit your comfort level.
Especially beginning in the second trimester of your pregnancy, your center of gravity will begin to shift with your growing belly. To ensure that you maintain your balance during standing poses, always use a chair or wall for support.
Go slowly and be gentle
Be gentle with your body! After all, it’s doing something pretty amazing. Start exercises slowly to ensure that you maintain your comfort level and adjust your posture as necessary to avoid straining your body and muscles. Remember that your instructor is a great resource to help you modify poses, reset your posture, and talk through any challenges you are experiencing.
There are undoubtedly struggles associated with practicing yoga while pregnant. It can be awkward and it definitely requires modifications and patience. However, the benefits surely outweigh the challenge. Follow the tips above to make it a seamless transition and to allow yourself to reap the benefits that accompany the practice of yoga for pregnancy.