Author: Pallavi Marshal, Certified Yoga Trainer, Bodhi Yoga Academy
“Giving birth and being born brings us into the essence of creation, where the human spirit is
courageous and bold and the body, a miracle of wisdom.”
Pregnancy is a beautiful chapter in the expecting parents’ life; one, that is cherished forever as in the end there is a tiny bundle of joy waiting to be taken home. Pregnant women are full of doubts and concerns and often rely on the advice of elders. While there is a lot of emphasis on the dietary requirements, factors like physical and emotional well-being are vital for a healthy pregnancy.
Yoga is becoming popular as a preferred form of prenatal exercise as it gives benefits of a good exercise like improved circulation, strength and flexibility but also is gentle for the joints. Yogic techniques have numerous benefits for the health of the mother and the growing fetus. Gone are the days when elective C-sections were the choice of delivery for many. Women, now are aware that a normal child birth will help them heal faster – it is the natural way.
A typical prenatal Yoga class consists of restorative asana flows with increased focus on breath to gently stretch and relax in a calm setting. With the help of props like chair, yoga belt and blocks, the yoga teacher ensures increased flexibility and strength while cushions, bolsters etc are used to provide further support and comfort for easing into asanas.
Personal yoga sessions are tailored according to one’s specific needs and expectations while for a healthy risk free pregnancy, group prenatal classes are a good idea as one can bond with other would be mothers.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
The benefits of Yoga surpass the physical level and extend to the mental and spiritual level as well. Relaxed body and positive state of mind results in an overall healthy pregnancy where the mother is in tune with the changes in her body :
- Yogasanas provide the needed flexibility and strength to the right set of muscles required for child birth.
- Hip openers and gentle supported back bends can help ease tension and prepare the body for delivery
- Relaxation techniques like Yoga Nidra and Meditation are beneficial in keeping depression and anxiety away
- Pranayama increases the Prana and is great for energizing the entire body
- Breathing techniques practised during pregnancy are also helpful when in labour
- Regular Yoga practice can result in mindful eating and healthy weight gain
- Improvement in the quality of sleep
- Prenatal yoga classes are a perfect time to connect with the baby and feel its movements
- A Stress-free healthy pregnancy reduces the chances of complications during birth and thereafter
Contraindications and Precautions
- Doctor’s approval is essential before starting the practice as women with certain medical conditions and those with high risk pregnancies need to exercise caution
- Expecting mothers should practice under the guidance of a certified yoga professional
- Hot Yoga, Power Yoga and intense forms like Vinyasa are not recommended during pregnancy
- Inversions, deep twists and backbends, Lying on the belly or flat on the back (second trimester onwards) are contraindicated
- Asanas which put too much pressure on the abdomen (Boat Pose, Chaturangasana etc)
- Kumbhaka (holding of breath) and Pranayamas which involve rapid breathing like Kapalbhati to be strictly avoided
- Yoga should be practised in a well ventilated room
- Staying cool and hydrated is crucial
- Practising Yoga with awareness is fundamental but is particularly relevant to listen to the body during pregnancy