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The Dos & Don’ts of Prenatal Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy

As a mom-to-be, your health and wellbeing take centre stage. Also, if your concerns drift towards being in shape, what you will read here is tailor-made for you. Prenatal yoga is a complete package as it guarantees a healthy pregnancy, prepares you for an easy delivery and gently takes care of that bun in the oven. We present a handy guide for expecting moms who are curious about prenatal yoga.

The many benefits

Along with adding to your vanity, prenatal yoga offers multiple benefits if you are preggers:

  • Lowers blood pressure, pulse rate and respiratory rate.
  • Improves cardiovascular function.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Better sleep, more energy and endurance.
  • Relieves of back pain.
  • Reduces depression and anxiety.
  • Improves balance and posture.

As Yoga teaches relaxation and meditation, it helps you to learn how to breathe deeply and relax. These techniques are your tools when as you face the physical demands of labor, birth, and motherhood. In fact, one of the first things you learn in a yoga class is how to breathe fully. The breathing technique known as ujjayi requires you to take in air slowly through your nose, filling your lungs, and exhaling completely until your stomach compresses.

Learning this breathing technique prepares you for labor and childbirth as this is your training to stay calm. When you're in pain or afraid, your body produces adrenalin and may produce less oxytocin, a hormone that makes labor progress. Regular yoga practice will help fight the urge to tighten up when you feel pain, and teach you to relax.

First-trimester yoga tips

Look for a trainer or instructor who is specifically trained in prenatal yoga. If that's not possible, make sure your instructor knows that you are pregnant and in the first trimester. You probably don't have many restrictions in early pregnancy, but remember to follow the rules of safe pregnancy exercise such as -

  • Drinking lots of water before, during, and after exercising to keep your body hydrated.
  • Listen to your body, start slow, always warm up an cool down.
  • Breathe deeply and regularly as you stretch. If you're a pro at yoga, recognise and accept that your regular routine will require modifications as you progress in your pregnancy.
  • Listen to your body and trust what it tells you. If you're feeling pain or discomfort, make a modification or ask your instructor to recommend an alternative position.
Second-trimester yoga tips

Your joints are beginning to loosen up now, so proceed with caution. Be aware that your slowly expanding girth will affect your sense of balance. Don't try to hold poses for a long time, and remember to sink into yoga positions slowly and carefully to avoid injury. Take your time and don't overdo it. Avoid lying flat on your back to keep blood flowing properly to your uterus.

Third-trimester yoga tips

You're probably feeling less graceful now that your belly is bigger, so perform standing poses with your heel to the wall or use a chair for support to avoid losing your balance and risking injury. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through different poses with greater stability.

And remember, don't hold poses for a long time as it's important to keep moving.

Yoga safety precautions during pregnancy

As with any exercise, you need to take certain general precautions when you're pregnant.

  • You may want to skip any movements that require you to lie flat on your back for longer than a few minutes, especially after the first trimester. Lying on your back can put pressure on your inferior vena cava, the vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart. This can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. But some women are comfortable lying in this position well into their pregnancies.
  • If you've never done a headstand or shoulder stand before, skip these poses.
  • Pregnancy is not the time to start an inversion practice, although many women who are used to these poses can continue to perform them well into their second trimesters. Use caution or avoid these poses altogether during the third trimester.
  • Skip positions that stretch the abdominal muscles too much, such as deep forward and back bends and deep twists. You're more apt to tear and strain muscles now because pregnancy hormones expand the uterus and loosen other connective tissue.
  • Stay away from Bikram or hot yoga classes, in which the room is heated to 90 degrees or higher. This temperature is harmful for you and your baby.
  • Do consult your obstretrician before taking up any exercises

If you want to be a happy and healthy mom-to-be, we say give prenatal yoga a go!

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