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Yoga and Healthy Pregnancy

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s how important your health and wellbeing is. Staying active, eating well and relaxation are key to your physical and mental health. When you’re pregnant, your baby is completely relying on you so it’s even more important to take it seriously.

The experts all agree: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK and The Australasian College of Sports Medicine all say that moderate-intensity exercise is important for pregnant women.

Yoga is the best all-round form of prenatal exercise and stress-relief which is why it’s recommended by so many Midwives and Doctors. When practiced correctly yoga is safe and beneficial for both mum and baby.

This guest blog is written by Caroline Bagga, a registered Senior Yoga Teacher and the Founder of Mother Nurture Yoga, Australia’s leading pregnancy yoga experts.

 

Here’s just some of the ways that prenatal yoga can help you:

  1. Feel more energetic. Growing a baby is tiring! But we still need energy to live our busy lifestyles, which yoga will help to restore.
  2. Relax, reduce stress and anxiety. According to experts, everything the pregnant mother feels and thinks is communicated through neurohormones to her unborn child, just as surely as are alcohol and nicotine. So relaxation, positive thinking and connection can nurture a healthier and happier child during pregnancy. Yoga is highly effective in endorphin production, which lifts your mood and makes you feel great.
  3. Sleep better. Indigestion, insomnia and hip pain are common in pregnancy and prevent you from getting the rest you need. Yoga can help with all these conditions.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Gestational diabetes is particularly common in Asian women and puts you in a higher risk category. A healthy diet is critical but a regular yoga practice will also help you maintain a healthy weight which reduces your chance of developing Gestational diabetes.
  5. Build strength. Yoga poses strengthen the legs, glutes and core to prevent and ease lower back problems so you can carry your growing baby with ease.
  6. Reduce back pain. Back pain is very common during pregnancy, affecting around 50-60% of women. Yoga will stretch out your upper and lower back, help you improve your posture, as well as helping you to build strength as mentioned above. Many women experience great relief from back pain after a yoga class.
  7. Position your baby correctly. Prenatal yoga is designed to assist with correct positioning of the baby – making the labour as easy and smooth as possible!
  8. Build your pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy and birth places your pelvic floor muscles under enormous strain. Just like any other muscle in your body, you need to work your pelvic floor to keep it strong and healthy. You also need to learn how to consciously relax these muscles in order to delivery your baby. A good prenatal yoga instructor will teach you how to activate and relax these muscles correctly to help with the pushing stage of labour. This will also make your postnatal recovery easier and quicker.
  9. Feel prepared and confident for an empowering birth. Regular practice of breathing techniques and positions for active birth will build your confidence and increase your chance of a natural delivery.
  10. Get back into shape more easily after giving birth. Keeping active during pregnancy will make it easier to bounce back after giving birth.
  11. Start bonding with your baby. A yoga class gives you special time to turn your attention inwards, learning to listen to and connect with your baby. Guided visualisations and touch are an important part of prenatal yoga.
  12. Connect with other pregnant women. It’s lovely to be able to share this special journey into motherhood with other women from your local area.

There is often time to chat with the other ladies after the class to share your experiences, tips and form new friendships. Being a new mum can be isolating so these friendships are important.

 

So what exactly happens in a pregnancy yoga class? A typical class includes meditation, breathing, yoga poses and relaxation. It’s a great combination of getting a gentle work out – stretching and strengthening, relaxing and preparing for labour and birth.

 

Perhaps you did some yoga a long time ago, or you’re a complete beginner and are nervous about joining a class because you’re not very flexible, or you’re not sure what to expect. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In fact many women try yoga for the first time when they are pregnant. Choose a specific pregnancy yoga class with a qualified and experienced teacher.

 

“When is it safe to start?” is one of the most common questions. Many ladies choose to wait until after the 12 week scan but the sooner the better before your bump gets too big! If in doubt, discuss your specific circumstances with the instructor.

 

Here are 3 Pregnancy Yoga poses for you to try now:

- Child’s Pose (Balasana) – Bring your knees wide and your feet together, sit back on your heels, rest your head on the mat, or a block/your hands. Send the breath into your back as you surrender down to the mat. This is a very grounding and relaxing pose, as well as a good hip opener. It can release tension from your lower back.

- Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) – Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop down to the sides. Sitting up on a blanket/towel can help to create extra length in the spine. Hold onto your ankles, take your elbows out towards your knees and keeping your spine straight to allow space for your baby, begin to come forwards. Relax your shoulders. Spend 5 breaths or more here. This is a great hip opener and increases circulation to the pelvis.

- Seated Side Stretch – Sit in easy cross-legged. Take your left hand out to the side and as you inhale raise your right arm. Get length through both sides of the waist before coming over into a side stretch to the left. Open your chest to the ceiling and turn to look up. Send the breath into your right lung. Take 3-5 breaths here then swap sides. This pose is great for stretching the sides of the body, creating more space for your internal organs which become compressed during pregnancy, especially your lungs, and opening the front of the body.

 

Caroline Bagga is mum to three beautiful girls aged 8, 6 and 4. She is the Founder of Mother Nurture Yoga, Australia’s leading Pregnancy Yoga experts. Check out the timetable to find a class near you, or join us online with live virtual classes: www.mothernurtureyoga.com.au

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