Health and fitness are essential aspects of human life and you can tell by how vibrant and radiant-looking anyone who engages in these activities are.
For instance, many people would hit the gym or join some sports activities to get fit. On some occasions, many people result to engaging in different forms of strength training to get into shape. To what end, you ask, well to a very good and advantageous end.
Although some exercises come with some pangs of pain and soreness, however, the cheering news is that exercise as a means of getting fit has been reported to increase the rate of blood flow across the body and in turn, decrease the risk of any chronic and terminal diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases amongst many others.
While anyone can indulge in exercises, the case is slightly different for pregnant women. That is to say, some exercises are not recommended for this category of people. Hence, at any stage of your pregnancy, you should take extra caution about the type of exercise you may want to engage in.
However, there is a form of exercise that is safe for you to engage in during pregnancy and would even add some great benefits to you upon delivery.
Just as the title of the article reads, this post is a complete guide to yoga practice for pregnant women. It covers different aspects of yoga for pregnant women and what you need to know. And if you are about to skip this post on the premise that “ I’m not pregnant after all ” just hold on a sec, you might be needing this information for someone in the future. So, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to settle in and read. Remember, no knowledge is a waste.
Imagine you being able to perform your daily routines actively without fatiguing out. Oh, yeah, you love the idea already. So, let’s get started.
What is Yoga?
If you are an avid reader of our posts, you could almost guess that the “ what is ” section would most likely be a starting point. This is because we love to give you an overview of our subject matter so, you can understand in clearer terms our bone of contention. That said, what exactly is yoga?
In simpler terms, yoga is an agelong practice that caters to your physical and mental well-being.
It draws upon its historical background from the spiritual aspects of the Indian philosophy where ancient and highly complex practices happen.
However, modernization has taken its toll on this practice and there have been several modifications to almost every aspect of Yoga, yet without compromising its many benefits. For instance, the types of yoga practiced in other countries of the world, outside the Asian continent are seen to have adopted many other elements such as pranayama (breath control), asana (Posture), pratyahara (thoughts awareness), and dhyana (meditation). Nonetheless, the result of these modifications still stands to help you improve your physical and mental well-being. Now, if you want to know if engaging in Yoga is safe during pregnancy then stay close as the next section sheds more light on this question.
Is yoga safe for pregnant women?
A straight answer is yes, yoga is safe and good for pregnant women. It is a highly beneficial kind of exercise for expectant mothers since it can both ease pregnancy-related discomfort and get your body ready for giving birth. Additionally, calm breathing and gentle motions might help you ease tension. Albeit, the best time to incorporate yoga into your exercise routine is in your 2nd trimester after 14 weeks.
Although there are many different styles associated with yoga practices, however, as a pregnant woman, you want to focus more on the milder ones rather than the strenuous ones to avoid compromising your health and complicating childbirth. Also, you want to pay more attention to the health of your unborn baby and some other medical factors too. In cases where you are not sure if you want to engage in Yoga because of health reasons, be sure to speak with your doctor.
Having known this, you want to know which yoga postures are best for you during pregnancy, and the next section addresses that.
The 4 best yoga postures for pregnant women
1. Easy Pose
Also known as sukhasana, the easy pose is the most common and convenient pose for pregnant women. You definitely must have seen them assume this posture countless times. Just as its name, it is super easy to take this posture because it is convenient. This posture leans more towards meditation. It promotes mental peace and aids in reducing tension and worries. Here is where you get to bid backaches goodbye as this posture is great for easing lower back pain and loosening up the hips. To assume this pose, sit on a clean floor or yoga mat with legs in a crisscross position. Let the soles of your feet point outwards such that your legs make a triangle with your crossed shin. If you want something extra, you can place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up and your thumbs holding down your first fingers respectively. You can play a solemn sound or soft piano music to get you in a meditative space.
2. Bound Angle Pose
Similar to the easy pose, the bound pose also assumes the same posture. The bound angle pose helps to achieve a good posture and also gives you total control of your breath. In a sitting position, sit with your thighs apart and your feet clapping each other. Put your hands together (in a namaste form) as in an A shape from you, with your belly dividing both hands. In the process, you could hold your feet to massage them while in this posture or you could even massage your calf. Assuming this posture would help boost blood circulation and also help reduce the pressure from the extra weight of the baby.
3. Cat/Cow Pose
Back pain is a common symptom during pregnancy as such you would be needing a posture that would relieve you of this pain. Luckily the cat/cow yoga pose caters to this pain as this simple series of motions stretches your spine and lets your tummy dangle, which might help you de-stress. This pose will also help set your baby in the best position for birth and also relieve you of labor backpains. To get the most out of these positions, breathe in and let your abdomen expand when you perform the cow stretch, then exhale and let your abdomen compress when you do the cat pose. You should try this pose, bet you would enjoy the process.
4. Goddess (Wide-legged) squat
This pose is greatly recommended especially if you would love to have an easy birth – who doesn’t want one, by the way?
To achieve balance, you can use the wall for support or you can choose not to do so, whichever works for you. The wide-legged squat posture promotes hip opening, improves the pelvic floor, and supports the legs, which are important to help ease your birth process. Assume this posture by standing in a position, legs wide apart, you can put your hands as in a namaste sign or hold the wall for support, then gently squat.
Now that you know the 4 best postures you can take for your yoga practice, now let’s examine the benefits you can derive from yoga.
Benefits of Yoga for pregnant women
Generally, yoga can be beneficial to health by reducing stress, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, and enhancing mental and emotional health, sleep, and balance. Others include;
- To relieve pain
Many studies have found that Yoga can help relieve pain especially those occurring in the neck and lower back. Also, it has been found that yoga can help relieve headaches resulting from stress, and also knee osteoarthritis pain.
- To improve mood
Many pregnant women experience depression and mood swings due to hormonal changes. However, there is evidence that yoga can help improve moods, relieve anxiety, and manage depressing feelings.
- Improve breathing
Engaging in yoga can help you breathe well. This in turn will help you relax your muscles and stay calm too and prevent you from getting tensed. To achieve a state of self-awareness and inner peace, you can be advised to listen to your breathing, pay special attention to feelings, thoughts, and emotions, or repeat a mantra or word.
- To Boost Mindfulness
Many of the yoga elements are focused on mindfulness and being conscious of your thoughts. Hence, engaging in yoga can help you stay mindful of your thoughts and be able to catch yourself when slipping into any depressive state.
Risks of Yoga for pregnant women
Just as with every other thing you can think of, the yoga practice also has its downsides, especially for pregnant women. Below are the most common risks yoga poses for pregnant women;
- Ankle sprains and strains
- Lower leg injury
Although yoga is beneficial to your health during pregnancy, however, it is important to understand the frequency of exercise to avoid harming yourself.
While pregnant, ensure you check in with your doctor to know if any underlying conditions may prevent you from exercising. However, if you are cleared on exercising, there may be a need to make changes to some of your activities, especially in your first trimester. For instance, you may be restricted from exercising in hot weather conditions and so, you may be exempted from taking the hot yoga class. Also, you should avoid any activity that requires you to lie on your back for an extended period. In all, ensure you are in constant communication with your doctor all through your pregnancy period.
If you are just getting into yoga, begin with only mild practices and avoid dangerous positions like forceful breathing, headstand, and shoulder stands. Also, it is important to learn injury prevention tips to help make your yoga practice safe.
Although being pregnant can be a lovely and amazing time, there can also be a lot of pain. Your body often begins to experience these pains in a bid to adjust to the new changes.
So, what can you do to make your pregnancy months more bearable? Exercise. Despite how worn out you may be, it is essential to exercise when pregnant. This will be helpful for you and your unborn child.
Reading this complete guide would help you participate in your Yoga practices adequately. In addition, you can also follow top yoga influencers on their social media platforms to stay encouraged on your journey.