How Good is Prenatal Yoga?
Author credit Emily Castelino
There was a time when people thought that pregnant women needed complete bed rest but those days are long gone as medical scientists proved that exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for both mother and child. However, it is important to note that strenuous exercise can have a negative impact which is why pregnant women can only indulge in exercises that do not place undue stress on their bodies. The medical community has acknowledged that prenatal yoga is well indicated for pregnant women as studies show that it leads to improvements in labor and birth outcomes.
Why Prenatal Yoga is the perfect pregnancy exercise
Pregnancy places stress on the pelvis and lower back which increases the risk of bone and joint problems especially in these areas. Prenatal yoga includes breathing exercises and strengthening yoga poses that have been modified for pregnant women. Yoga during pregnancy is particularly beneficial as it helps to forge a connection between the body and mind through specific body positions and breathing techniques. Here’s why you should include Prenatal Yoga in your pregnancy fitness regimen:
Insomnia and sleep issues are very common during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. Prenatal yoga poses such as the triangle pose, supported pigeon pose, and final resting pose (savasana) help you relax physically and mentally to help you cool down at the end of a long day. These poses also help to regulate sleep rhythms which helps your body stay in sync with natural sleep patterns and makes it easier for you to fall asleep.
Reduced Back and Pelvic Pain
As your unborn baby grows bigger, your center of gravity shifts which places a significant amount of stress on your lower back – this is why back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy. Additionally, your body produces a hormone called relaxin that relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis in preparation for childbirth. Scientists have found that high levels of relaxin are associated with severe pelvic pain in pregnant women. Triangle pose, butterfly pose, and seated side stretch are some of the most effective yoga poses for back pain during pregnancy. Similarly, the reclined bound angle pose, squat pose, and goddess pose are very effective yoga poses for pelvic pain during pregnancy.
Lowered stress and anxiety levels
Pregnancy is a profoundly transformative experience but it comes with a whole set of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. Studies show that up to 25% of pregnant women experience stress and anxiety and that long-term stress can have a negative impact on the health of an unborn baby. Simple yoga poses during pregnancy such as the legs up the wall (Viparita Karan) pose, child’s pose (wide-legged variation), and easy pose (sukhasana) help to relieve mental stress and anxiety.
Strengthened Abdominal Muscles
Ab exercises are generally associated with six packs and toned tummies but they are also very important for pregnant women. This is because your abdominal muscles play a vital role during labor and strong abs can help to reduce your pain and discomfort. Simple seated forward fold pose, warrior 2 pose, and bridge pose are simple but effective yoga poses to strengthen abdominal muscles during pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga is the best pregnancy exercise but health experts at Whattoexpect warn women to clear their yoga workout with their ob-gyn before starting a prenatal yoga course. This is because there are several yoga poses that you should not attempt during your pregnancy as they could have a negative effect on you and/or your baby. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid closed twist poses, belly down poses, inversion poses, and intense backbend poses. Prenatal yoga is not just for fitness enthusiasts as even beginners can benefit from these sessions. Your baby’s health and well-being is your priority so don’t push yourself too hard. Accepting your limitations might even help you get the most out of your prenatal yoga sessions.