Yoga During Pregnancy

image001Yoga is an ancient form of physical activity that has contributed a lot in the holistic living of individuals of all age groups. It is a spiritual way to relax the mind and heal the body. During pregnancy, a female battles with disturbing mood swings, persistent feeling of sickness and fatigue, breathing problems and contraction issues. By performing yoga exercises, postures and techniques, a pregnant female can help ease the pain and discomfort. Likewise, yoga exercises are also helpful in making the delivery process smoother and uneventful. Read on to learn essential safety tips for practicing yoga during pregnancy as well as recommended yoga for pregnancy.

Is Practicing Yoga Safe During Pregnancy?

Yoga has always played a favorable role in the optimal well-being of pregnant females. It makes them relax and helps in breathing problems. It calms the body and mind and also provide relief from emotional and physical stress. It is healthy to join prenatal yoga classes; however, taking several precautions during yoga exercises is absolutely essential for the safety of both you and your baby.

Benefits of Yoga During Pregnancy

Yoga is a versatile approach to exercise which encourages mental centering, stretching and focusing breathing. Prenatal yoga can:

  • Improve sleeping problems
  • Decreases anxiety and stress
  • Increases the muscle’s flexibility, strength and endurance required for childbirth
  • Reduces nausea, back pain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and breathing problems.
  • Reduces risk of having preterm labor, hypertension induced in pregnancy and intrauterine growth restriction

Precautions to Take for Yoga During Pregnancy

Warning: If you have never exercised (or at least not for a significant interval of time) then ask your doctor about starting yoga during pregnancy or any other form of exercise and also discuss with your yoga instructor about any concerns you might have. Before starting regular yoga classes it is important to inform the instructor about your pregnancy and which trimester you are in.

Precautions

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Know when is the best time to start

Doing yoga in second trimester is the best time to start with, after 14th week. You will feel less sick and tired during a long yoga class. According to yoga guidelines, avoid doing yoga in first trimester if you are not familiar with it. However, if you have decided to start doing yoga exercise in first trimester then keep it to breathing and relaxation exercises.

Start slowly and modify the posture

Always start slowly and gently with each exercise. Yoga instructor will help you in modifying the posture that best suits your pregnancy. It is important to listen and follow the advice of instructor.

Go gentle

While doing yoga poses gently allow body to lengthen or open rather pushing the body in order to achieve the pose. If during class your body feel tired then take a break (in fact take frequent breaks).

Keep water at hand

Keep water with you and sip it whenever you feel thirsty. It is good to have a light snack before an hour or two of yoga class.

Be careful with twisting poses

While doing twisting poses, avoid twisting more from waist as it can put pressure on abdomen; twisting the back muscles and shoulder region is fine. Twist only as long as you feel comfortable; but make sure to avoid deep twisting during pregnancy.

Be careful with pelvis position

During poses try to keep pelvis in an unbiased position by tucking down slightly the tailbone and engaging the abdominals. This is helpful in relaxing muscles of buttocks and hip flexors which further prevent sciatic pain at the back side of leg.

Find support to keep your balance

During the second trimester, the center of gravity begins to shift so you should always use a chair or wall for support when performing standing poses so that you do not lose your balance.

Avoid hot yoga and certain poses

  • Avoid doing poses involving your back after first trimester as it can decreases the flow of blood to uterus
  • Avoid the poses that put too much stress or strain on the abdominal muscles (especially the anterior abdominal wall muscles)
  • Avoid doing hot yoga exercise as according to several studies, overheating is dangerous for the growth of fetus.

Know when to stop

If you feel any discomfort during certain poses or exercises, immediately stop doing exercise and tell your instructor about it. He will help you in customizing yoga poses which suits you better during pregnancy.

Yoga During Pregnancy-- Safe and Unsafe Poses 

Generally the following poses are considered as safe in pregnancy:

  • Butterfly stretch
  • Triangle pose
  • Cobra
  • Cat-Cow
  • Side angle pose
  • Seated forward bend
  • Standing forward bend

Avoid doing the following poses during pregnancy

  • Camel
  • Upward bow
  • Backbends
  • Handstands
  • Balancing poses on single leg (unless it is supported by wall or chair)
  • Headstands

Recommended Yoga Poses During Pregnancy

1. Vakrasana (Twisted Pose)

image002Benefits: In this pose, your hands, legs, spine and neck are exercised with gentle massage applied on abdominal organs

Instructions:

  • Sit in erect posture with your feet stretched in front.
  • Inhale and elevate arms till shoulder level with palms in face down position
  • Now exhale and twist body from waist towards right side, move hands and head simultaneously. Swing your arms back and avoid bending knees.
  • Now come back at original position and repeat on other side

2. Paryankasana (Ham's Pose with Single Leg)

image003Benefits: Strengthens pelvic, thigh and abdominal muscles

Instructions:

  • Lie down straight on back and put the legs straight and knees together.
  • Now fold the right leg and breathe normally.
  • Hold this position as long as you feel comfortable
  • Repeat with other leg

3. Panangustasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose)

image004Benefits: Strengthens thigh and pelvic muscles

Instructions:

  • Lie down straight on back, keep your legs straight and body in line.
  • Place hands in T position with palms faced down.
  • Now slide the right leg on right side. If possible hold the toe with right hand. Avoid pushing body hard.
  • Now slide the leg back and repeat with other leg on other side.

4. Bhadrasana (Butterfly Pose)

image005Benefits: Strengthens pelvic region and inner thighs

Instructions:

  • Take a mat and sit over it with fully stretched legs.
  • By keeping the legs contacted with mat, form a Namaste with feet.
  • Sit rigid and avoid leaning forward. Place hands on thighs or knees.

5. Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

image006Benefits: Relief in back pain and improves body posture

Instructions:

  • Sit straight on mat in padmasana, ardhapadmasana or sukhasna
  • Inhale and lift arm and join palms to make Namaste position.
  • Keep elbows straight.
  • Repeat twice or thrice.

6. Konasana (Angle Pose)

Benefits: Controls the fats and flexibility of waist in waist area

Instructions:

  • Stand rigid with 24 inches gap in feet. This pose can also be done with the help of wall.
  • Lift the right hand and keeps the elbow straight. Inhale and stretch hand upward and then bend towards left side.
  • Now exhale and come back at original position by keeping hand down
  • Repeat same with other hand

7. Yastikasana (Stick Pose)

Benefits: Stretches body, gives relief in body tension and corrects body posture.

Instructions:

  • Lie down straight on back and keep the legs straight and body in a line. Put feet and knees together with feet pointed upward and hands resting on sides.
  • Inhale then lift both hands and push toes out simultaneously.
  • Exhale and come back to normal position

Videos for Pregnancy Yoga--A Practice for Each Trimester

Pregnancy Yoga with Esther Ekhart and Jess: