Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life. She is growing a new life within her, and if one starts to contemplate about that, it is a miracle within itself. Pregnancy is a whole new experience, and though it is associated with the cliché ‘radiant skin, happiness and health consciousness’, the reality can be quite different.
Overwhelmed with the effects of changing hormones, a good number of pregnant women in fact end up with skin breakouts, mood swings and unnecessary weight gain. If not addressed properly, these concerns can cause a pregnant woman to end up in prenatal depression, which should be the last thing an expecting mother should be facing during this important life event.
If you are reading this and are pregnant, first of all, congratulations! Second of all, don’t despair if you are facing any of the adverse effects of pregnancy. In fact, one of the most common pregnancy issues mothers-to-be face is gaining excessive weight. There is a great way to control all these symptoms and also keep your body in shape. That way is to adopt a healthy practice like prenatal yoga.
Mentioning prenatal yoga may have you raising an eyebrow in disbelief, especially if you are a complete novice when it comes to all things yoga. But hear me out. This is actually an ancient practice designed specifically for expecting mothers and it has a surprising number of benefits.
Expecting mothers can experience a lot of anxiety and stress throughout their pregnancy, even if the baby is developing fine. They are especially worried about labor. Prenatal yoga helps ease your anxiety by making you center your mind through various deep breathing exercises.
One of the main things expecting women learn is ujjayi, a special breathing technique where you learn how to breath fully. Basically, you inhale air through your nose slowly until your lungs are full and then exhale slowly until your stomach compresses.
This teaches you mindfulness, increased focus and a way to relax and stay calm during labor. Controlling stress is one of the main reasons the modern day individual is turning to yoga, as a lot of studies have proven yoga reduces stress and anxiety.
This reason alone should be enough to motivate you to do prenatal yoga, since it also helps improve your sleep, something I know a lot of pregnant women struggle with, especially in their third trimesters.
Prenatal yoga also encourages you to do gentle stretching using your different body parts like arms, legs and neck. Studies show that stretching is good for you and stretching can in itself have various health benefits for pregnant women.
It is a way to relax your muscles and ease the physical tension in your body. It also gives you greater flexibility over time, which is very beneficial during the time of delivery. Of course, it is important that you remember to breathe properly during these stretches and not force your body to do anything that would make you uncomfortable.
Stretching also helps improve your blood circulation which is a great advantage. Better blood circulation translates in to a healthier body and better flow of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
Prenatal yoga also involves doing various poses which are thought to be beneficial for the expecting mother and her baby. These postures help you in toning your muscles, give your body the right amount of exercise and are also easy on the joints unlike other types of exercise.
They also help you get a greater range of motion and flexibility, keep your weight in check and at the same time preparing you for the delivery day. Some yoga postures let you connect with your baby emotionally and spiritually such as the Hero pose where you sit with your spine straight and breathe deeply with the intention of connecting with the unborn life force growing within you.
Prenatal yoga also means incorporating a healthier life style. Being pregnant, you know that you should be eating healthy for yourself and your baby and cutting back on those ice creams and fries.
However, sometimes your hormones can get the best of you, and you may find yourself in the kitchen indulging in some comfort food. Yoga has been shown to gradually improve a person’s willpower. Prenatal yoga gives us the clarity and will power to help make better health choices. It helps improve your mood and sense of wellbeing which in turn leads to less emotional eating and binging.
Sometimes pregnant women can end up feeling isolated because they think others can’t understand the experience they are going through. By enrolling in a prenatal yoga class, you will likely end up meeting a lot of new expecting mothers and making new friends. This will help you build a sense of community and a support system which is very beneficial for a healthy state of mind. Maybe you could even treat yourself and go away on a beneficial prenatal yoga retreat.
All these above factors should be enough to motivate you to search for a good prenatal yoga class and start as soon as possible. Just remember to check that the yoga teacher has prenatal yoga teaching credentials because certain types of yoga should not be practiced by pregnant women, such as Bikram yoga which can lead to overheating of your body and prove dangerous for the baby.
Always ensure you get your doctor’s thumbs up before joining any exercise regiment, even prenatal yoga. Keep conscious of your body’s needs and don’t do anything that feels uncomfortable.
The benefits of prenatal yoga have also been proven by a study done in India which compared 335 pregnant women between the 18 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. 169 women were put in a yoga group where they practiced an hour of yoga daily whilst 166 were in the control group where they took two daily walks of 30 minutes each. The study found that prenatal yoga improves birthweight of babies, and reduces chances of preterm labor, leading to a healthier pregnancy and outcome.
Prenatal yoga is an ancient practice that has been developed for the benefit of expecting mothers and it is something that all pregnant women need to do regularly to reap its many advantages and have a healthier and happier pregnancy.