What Is Prenatal Yoga & Understanding the Basics
If you do not have any idea what prenatal yoga is, then you have come to the right place!
A lot of people don’t understand the main difference between regular and prenatal yoga and how it can benefit someone pregnant.
If you have done yoga before you got pregnant, chances are, you would like to continue doing it.
But, it doesn’t mean that you can get away with every pose. You will need to modify poses to ensure your baby’s safety and avoid injury.
Pregnancy yoga poses are meant to prepare your body for childbirth and help relieve pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Doing yoga exercises offers several benefits for pregnant women, such as reduced nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
You will also find that yoga is excellent for improving sleep and in helping you achieve a calm state.
Breathing and meditation can help lower the risk of hypertension, high blood pressure, and preterm labor. It can also help improve balance, strength, and flexibility.
Many women have used yoga to prepare their body for childbirth and labor.
Types of Yoga You Need to Avoid
Yoga has many benefits, but you must do everything with caution.
The best choices for someone pregnant is hatha yoga and prenatal yoga (obviously). These types of yoga are gentle and low-impact.
Styles such as power yoga, hot/Bikram, and Ashtanga yoga will need to be avoided because they can be strenuous on your body.
Before you start prenatal yoga, make sure to consult your doctor. They know if it’s a good for you or not.
Start slowly and set goals that are realistic, especially if you have never done yoga before.
Give yourself enough time to get used to the poses. Avoid poses that involve bending, twisting, jerking, or jumping.
5 Ways Prenatal Yoga Helps You Have a Healthy Pregnancy
Prenatal yoga uses a lot of breathing exercises and poses similar to traditional yoga.
There are several poses that you can do during pregnancy, and these can provide you with a multitude of benefits.
By doing yoga exercises, you can certainly work on your breathing techniques.
This should help you get your body in peak condition in preparation for labor and delivery. It doesn’t stop there, because yoga can benefit your body after the birth of your child.
1. Improve Strength
Having a healthy pregnancy requires strength and balance.
As your pregnancy progresses, you will mostly rely on your body’s physical strength to carry your growing belly. Your lower body will take most of the beating, which is why you need to work on your balance as well.
As you gain strength from doing prenatal yoga exercises, your balance will improve dramatically.
This will be a big help after you deliver your baby, especially if you want to lose post-baby weight quickly.
2. Relieve Pregnancy Pains
Anyone whose been pregnant is all too familiar with the aches and discomfort that comes with pregnancy.
As you start to condition your body with prenatal yoga, you will notice a big difference with how you feel- less pain and less discomfort. Your upper and low backaches, leg cramps, and pelvis contractions won’t be as bad.
The half-moon and pigeon poses are great for relieving pain. Don’t worry because they are safe for pregnant women.
3. Learn Breathing Techniques
If you have ever been to a Lamaze class, you know how important it is to learn how to breathe correctly for the birthing process.
Yoga will help you discover the right breathing techniques for working through the pain and finding a calm and quiet place during labor.
The earlier you start, the better. Breathing is going to aid in maximizing your oxygen flow, and this is crucial for managing labor pains.
4. Prepare for Childbirth
Yoga does not only help your mind and body during pregnancy but also after giving birth to your child. You will notice your improved strength, flexibility, and balance.
These benefits are beneficial during childbirth.
Mastering proper breathing and poses that involve doing squats and opening your hips are all vital for a smooth childbirth experience.
5. Relieve Anxiety
Being pregnant can be overwhelming. Aside from a great deal of physical discomfort, you also have to deal with anxiety, mood swings, and emotional stress.
You can blame your pregnancy hormones for that.
Your mental health during pregnancy is equally important with your physical health, and this is where yoga comes in. By doing relaxing yoga poses, you will learn how to control your emotions and reduce your anxiety.
Doing prenatal yoga is beneficial regardless of which stage you are in your pregnancy. Make sure you talk to a professional though before starting.
The Best Prenatal Yoga Poses & Why
Learning the appropriate breathing methods will not only help alleviate pregnancy aches naturally, but it will also prep your body for childbirth.
Prenatal yoga is one of the best things you can do to help yourself. It can be done any time during the pregnancy.
The poses are safe, and they won’t cause any pain or discomfort.
You don’t have to worry about causing strain on your body because the exercises are low impact.
With yoga, you can strengthen your muscles, release tension, and reduce pain and discomfort dramatically.
By doing basic prenatal yoga poses, you are helping your body prepare for childbirth. Some poses can be done throughout the pregnancy, but the poses listed below will give you an insight of individual poses for each trimester.
The first trimester starts before you even know you are carrying a baby. During your first trimester, you will hardly feel the changes in your body. You may not even show yet at this stage.
You may experience minor discomforts like leg or pelvis cramping, back pain, nausea, and headaches. These symptoms can be reduced with the help of prenatal yoga.
Some of the best poses to do during the first trimester are the standing poses that will not require you to jump, twist, or do sun salutations.
Stick to poses like the upward-facing bow instead of the camel or bridge pose.
Majority of poses you can do comfortably in your first trimester are prone poses such as; bow, cobra, locust, deep twists (these should be avoided later during the pregnancy) and abdominal strengthening exercises.
A lot of these poses can be modified during the first trimester based on your level of comfort. Someone who has been doing yoga before they got pregnant will find it easy to do the exercises involved in prenatal yoga.
You need to practice caution when doing poses that require you to bend over, twist, or jump. These are usually allowed only during the first two months of pregnancy.
Once you reach 14 weeks, you are officially on your second trimester. You may start feeling better, and you will experience fewer headaches and queasiness.
You will enjoy poses that help you bond with your baby.
However, keep in mind that you will need to be more cautious with the poses you do during this stage. Your belly is fast-growing, and now is the time to stop doing any pose requiring you to bend over twist, or jump.
You can continue doing the same poses, such as the upward-facing bow, child’s pose, and half-moon.
Don’t worry about it too much if your body can’t adjust as quickly as it should.
Do whatever feels safe for you and remember, stick to the standing or sitting poses. Yoga in pregnancy can be a lot of fun too!
Keep in mind that you if you have lower blood sugar levels, you can get dizzy very quickly. Make sure you eat a light snack before and after your yoga class.
During your third trimester, which begins around 28 weeks, you are nearing childbirth. What an exciting time!
During this stage, the yoga poses should be gentler, and you may need to limit the intensity of your routines. you should stick to mostly standing or sitting poses that are comfortable for you to do.
You should put more emphasis on breathing exercises and other techniques to open up your hips and learn how to manage pain.
Don’t push yourself too hard at this point.
You should still be able to do the corpse, warrior, and child’s pose. You can also do half-butterfly, full butterfly, and sleeping abdominal pose.
You can always modify these poses according to your level of comfort.
The poses you will do in your final trimester will help you get ready for childbirth. When you reach the 36th week (full-term), you should do fewer inversions.
Prenatal Yoga Poses
The following are some of the best prenatal yoga poses you can do at any stage of your pregnancy. They are very doable and safe for your baby.
Modified Bow Pose
A great alternative that allows you to get in a heart-opening stretch and work the back. Kneel on the ground and reach back until you feel the ground. You can also place your hands on your lower back/butt for support.
Modified Runners Lunge
This pose is great for your hips and for your back as well.
To come into this pose, start in a lunge with your right foot forward, right knee over ankle and right shin perpendicular with the floor. Use your left toes for balance, dropping the knee if you need the extra support. Take a few breaths here with your hands on either side of your right foot.
Sit on the ground come into butterfly pose by bringing the bottoms of your feet together in front of you. Wrap your hands around your feet and sit tall for a few breaths. Once you settle into the pose, start to hinge forward with a flat back at your hips to deepen the stretch.
This yoga combo move is good for a number of pregnancy ailments including relieving back pain brought on by belly weight. Start on all fours and then move through cow pose (letting the belly drop, lifting the tailbone, and looking forward) and cat pose (rounding the spine, looking at the belly button and creating space between the shoulder blades). Breathe in with your cow pose and breathe out with cat pose.
This pose is excellent for relieving muscle stiffness, expanding your pelvic area, and decreasing lower back pain. It also helps stimulate the abdominal organs and improves digestion.
Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold
Another forward folding yoga pose you can do during pregnancy is the wide-legged forward fold. It will help relieve pain in the back as well as tightness of the joints, which is very common during pregnancy. Other benefits include lower blood pressure and better circulation.
Sit on the ground and separate your legs as wide as you can. Bend your knees slightly (so they’re not locked), flex your feet, and start to fold forward. If you can, rest your forearms on the ground.
Yoga Modifications During Pregnancy
If you have been doing yoga before becoming pregnant, you might’ve changed your methods as you progressed.
When you find out you are pregnant, you might not expect it, but you will need to start modifying your routine.
Instead of going through every yoga pose and modification, you should look to the accessories that can help you with the modifications.
One of these accessories is yoga blocks.
Yoga blocks should be used to brace your arms, your back, and to give you some relief for neck and backpressure.
One important thing to do when you are pregnant and performing yoga, is to make sure your body is braced and given the proper support.
Yoga blocks will help with that.
Downward or Front-Facing Poses
You will want to avoid downward-facing positions, like a downward-facing dog.
You want to keep out of front-facing poses that have you laying on your belly. This will limit the chances of falling or stretching that would hurt the womb area.
Straps for Stretching
One way you might not think of is to use straps for stretching.
All too often you may be in a pose, like a side stretch and feel the stretch go too far only after it has happened.
Instead of stretching your legs or arms on your own, consider using yoga straps as the modification to these stretches and bends.
This modification can be used on most any pose that requires these stretches in legs and arms.
Why Prenatal Yoga
Yoga in pregnancy is not only beneficial, but it can also be a very rewarding experience for you. As long as you know how far you can go, you should be fine.
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