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For most of my life I feared giving birth more than anything else. My pregnancy with my firstborn was a joyous surprise that also brought a flood of worry about labor. I knew that I could spend nine months fretting about one day of my life, or I could empower myself through prenatal yoga. I committed to practicing every single day during pregnancy and with the help of a doula, was able to face my fear of childbirth.
When I became pregnant with my second child I felt more comfortable with the idea of labor, until my doctor told me she was sunny side up. Again, I turned to my yoga practice to relieve worry and stress, as well as try to reposition my daughter. And once again, I was empowered to face my fear.
Transform your Pregnancy
I know firsthand the transformative power of prenatal yoga. It builds the strength we need as mothers. Yoga teaches us to breathe. It helps to relieve common symptoms during pregnancy. Yoga and mindfulness also contribute to better overall health and wellbeing which makes the transition into motherhood smoother and more enjoyable. In fact, studies show evidence that prenatal yoga can provide the following benefits:
- Promote relaxation
- Lower stress and reduce chance of preterm labor
- Prepare body for labor through opening the pelvis
- Create strength and stamina
- Reduce back pain
- Improve sleep
Find a Class or Instructor
So now that you are ready to practice prenatal yoga, here are a few helpful tips to get you started. If you can find a local studio that offers prenatal classes, I suggest attending at least one to learn from a skilled teacher.
Prenatal yoga classes are also a great way to meet other women in the same stage of life as you. If you are brand new to yoga and can’t find a prenatal class, then a gentle or beginner’s class would still be really helpful.
Prenatal Yoga Safety Tips
Whether you are practicing yoga at home or in a group class, there are a few guidelines to keep both you and your baby safe:
Never lie on your belly: This is to avoid compression of your uterus and the baby.
Avoid deep twisting: This is also to avoid unnecessary compression.
Don’t hop: Jumping into poses requires core strength that just isn’t available while carrying a baby. Your body is also full of the hormone relaxin that helps soften your pelvis as well as all of your other joints. Jumping while pregnant puts stress on your joints when they are more susceptible to injury.
Avoid lying flat on your back after 20 weeks: There is a large vein just to the right side of the body that helps regulate blood pressure. As your baby grows, lying flat on your back could lead to low blood pressure, nausea or dizziness for the mama and reduced blood flow, oxygen and provide fewer nutrients for the baby. Lying on your left side for resting is preferred.
Regulate body temperature and hydration: take plenty of rests, modify as needed and drink plenty of fluids.
You may also like:
- 5 Major Postpartum Mindset Changes Every Mom Goes Through
- Pregnancy Brain
- 10 Fitness and Wellness Strategies for New Moms
Use support and do not take poses further than before pregnancy: this supports the health of your joints by not overstretching them.
Keeping these guidelines in mind, you can now move through a yoga sequence at your own pace. In general, a consistent, shorter practice will offer more benefits than a sporadic, longer practice. For example, twenty minutes every day has the power to transform how you feel throughout your pregnancy, but ten minutes every other day would still offer some relief of symptoms.
Try it at Home
A sample home practice might be:
- Five minutes of slow, relaxed breathing
- Breathe through a few rounds of cat/cow
- Choose 3-5 standing poses such as Warrior 1, Triangle or Extended Side Angle. Take five slow deep breaths for each.
- Move to the floor for bridge pose and a hip opener such as double pigeon.
- End with legs up the wall (place a pillow under your hips so that you aren’t lying flat on your back) followed by Savasana lying on your left side.
Yoga gives us the opportunity to breathe, to stand in our strength and to practice acceptance. These are all skills that will serve us throughout the journey of motherhood.
Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
Sacred Pregnancy: A Loving Guide and Journal for Expectant Moms by Anni Daulter