Whether you worked out regularly before pregnancy, or have decided to find a way to have the healthiest pregnancy possible by starting an exercise program, prenatal yoga has many benefits to offer both mother-to-be and baby.
Obviously, increased flexibility and strength will relieve some stress the rapid weight gain of pregnancy places on the body. But there are many other ways prenatal yoga can help women stay strong and healthy until their due date, and beyond.
Check out 7 of the many great things prenatal yoga can do for expectant mothers below:
1. Yoga Reduces Anxiety—
Bringing a new human into the world can be a simultaneously joyful and stressful time for anyone, but for the well-being of both mother and baby, it’s important to keep anxiety levels low.
Yoga has been proven to reduce nervousness, lower blood pressure, and increase oxygenation through deep breathing, all of which create a soothing sense of peace and calm.
Breathing exercises during yoga can also teach women to control pain and tension during labor, increasing the chances of achieving a natural birth if so desired.
2. Yoga Improves Balance—
Because the body is growing and changing so quickly during pregnancy, it can be hard to maintain balance, giving expectant mothers the reputation for being clumsy. But to be fair; who wouldn’t be clumsy when faced with trying to adjust to a new, larger body every week or so?
During this constantly-fluctuating bodily transition, building the balance-giving leg muscles through certain yoga poses (such as tree pose, for example) can really reduce the wobbliness and off-kilter sensations many pregnant women experience.
3. Yoga Increases Mindfulness—
Yoga is great for encouraging people to become more in touch with their bodies, allowing them to better listen and respond to needs.
Never in a woman’s life is mindfulness more important than during pregnancy, because now another person’s needs must be considered and recognized. Being aware of certain food cravings and indulging them, for example, can give the body necessary nutrition.
Remembering to treat yourself with care, respect, and having patience with the pregnancy process are examples of enhanced mindfulness that can benefit both mother and baby.
4. Yoga Reduces Aches and Pains—
Pregnancy can be an uncomfortable and even painful experience for some, with common ailments often occurring in different trimesters. Many women feel nauseated in the first trimester, for example (or the entire pregnancy), and some experience heartburn, back pain, or joint pain as the baby grows.
By increasing flexibility and strength, yoga can alleviate or even prevent many issues during pregnancy, with poses that open the hips and shoulders to reduce strain. Certain yoga positions can also lessen back pain, and help with digestive problems like constipation or heartburn.
5. Yoga Provides Emotional Support—
As any support group member will tell you, there’s something very soothing about being around people who can understand the matters with which you’re dealing, and a room full of other pregnant women is no exception.
By doing taking a prenatal yoga class together, you’ll likely find yourself making friends, relating and bonding with other mothers-to-be, which can help you feel less alone or worried about what’s normal.
Bonus: Talking with women who are further along in their pregnancies can better prepare you for what to expect.
6. Yoga Maintains Fitness—
Doctors disagree on whether or not women can continue to lift weights, run, and do more strenuous exercises during pregnancy.
Activity levels while pregnant also vary from person to person, and those with high-risk pregnancies may be forbidden from certain exercises for this reason as well.
But yoga, when done gently and carefully (with a doctor’s permission, of course) can be a gentle way to retain muscle mass, strength and flexibility.
It’s more important than ever before to stay healthy during pregnancy, so don’t use it as an excuse to lie around and lose all of the fitness progress you’ve made; simply modify your routine and keep moving.
7. Yoga Encourages Meditation/Naps—
One of the best pieces of advice any new mother will hear about her infant is “sleep when they sleep.” But this can be a frustratingly difficult goal to achieve, because when you’re constantly getting up to change diapers, feed and soothe a baby back to sleep, it’s hard to wind back down enough to fall asleep yourself after they finally nod back off.
But prenatal yoga teaches the relaxation pose and often ends with a session of quiet meditation that trains yoga students to relax on command. If you can carry this ability into motherhood, you’ll be able to rest quickly whenever your new little one does, which is a wonderful skill to have in your parenting arsenal.
As you can see above, prenatal yoga has many benefits for mind, body, mother and baby. Consider adding this wonderful practice to your exercise regimen today to stay in great shape throughout your pregnancy, and consider doing postnatal yoga for a great way to lose the baby weight faster afterward.