Pregnancy yoga is a full range of modified yoga postures designed to complement the growing needs of a pregnant body during all three trimesters. It is suitable for both new and experienced yogis. Pregnancy yoga is intended to provide comfort, build stability and strength, promote calmness and boost vitality. It also includes breathing practices (pranayama) that will guide you through the emotional and physical changes you're going through as well as during labour and birth.
Movement is what your body needs for the aches and pains of a growing pregnant body. Yoga is critical for your circulation, your overall body awareness and a sense of self confidence that your body is reliable, strong and supple. You will want to feel connected to your body, ensuring that it is strong, capable and trustworthy. Through the practice of yoga you learn to listen to your body and to breathe and rest when you need to.
As a mother and now in my second pregnancy, I am grateful to have a yoga practice that supports me while pregnant, for post-natal recovery and motherhood. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice, it attends to the needs of mind, emotions and spirit. It provides a sense of connection, awareness and presence that allows you to show up better for yourself and your family. Developing these self-care practices can help you tune into your body, so you can slow down, relax and learn to be more mindful of your breath and body, as it goes through these drastic changes.
Top health benefits of practicing pregnancy yoga:
1. Keeps the body active.
Since pregnancy and childbirth involve a huge challenge for mothers, both physically and mentally, pregnancy yoga build flexibility, mobility and strength which is vital for supporting and maintaining a healthy body during pregnancy.
2. Reduces anxiety and stress
Yoga is known for its ability to help reduce stress and manage the symptoms of anxiety, through the breathing techniques and relaxation. During pregnancy, the experience of a range of emotions can become intense and overwhelming; yoga can support you in learning how to manage stress and increase your resilience.
One study found that practicing integrated yoga during pregnancy has an added benefit of protecting against prenatal depression. In class we learn various breathing techniques that are specific for dealing with anxiety, sleep issues, labour & birth and connecting to yourself and your baby. Learning to breathe through new feelings and sensations helps you lessen anxiety and concern during pregnancy.
3. Reduces overall symptom burden of pregnancy.
Pregnancy can put a lot of added pressure on your lower back - and your body in general. This often leads to pain in areas such as the hips, pelvis, shoulders and legs. Your spine and posture changes, adapting to your growing baby, which requires a lot from the body. Pregnancy yoga takes that into account and focuses on specific muscle groups to support you.
One study found that participating in a prenatal yoga program can have a positive effect on reducing the overall burden of pregnancy-related symptoms as well as improving the stride and gait during walking.
4. Focuses on pelvic floor muscles.
Prenatal yoga classes often emphasize strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, as well as learning how to let go and release. Both are equally important. Often referred to as Kegel exercises, I always recommend becoming familiar with your pelvic floor muscles and to make sure you're doing them correctly.
"Reut's classes have been a stabilising influence throughout the second and third trimesters of my pregnancy. They have kept me calm and grounded, and given me excellent mindfulness tools and coping strategies to practice before labour. They have also kept me mobile and supple. Before pregnancy, I suffered with lower back pain, but since doing Reut's class, I have had none, except for the one week I was unable to attend. I have also greatly benefited from Reut's generous, nurturing manner. She has looked after all her mamas-to-be during lockdown, going above and beyond to make sure we all felt supported and had a safe space to discuss any worries or concerns about pregnancy, labour and motherhood."
5. Prepares the body for childbirth.
Labour is one of the most physical things you’ll ever do. You would not run a marathon without preparation: Prepare for your childbirth!
Every yoga class brings you one step closer to being prepared for childbirth, through learning how to breathe, how to move, strengthening, softening and increasing awareness of your body will all support you in childbirth.
6. Aids with post-natal recovery
Practicing yoga during pregnancy builds a good foundation for a rapid post-natal recovery. Through the yoga asanas and the connection with the breath, it supports and nurtures you in the post-natal period. Yoga promotes deep rest, relaxation and an ability to adjust to your life with your new baby with ease and calm. Another important aspect is the improved connection between mother and baby which aids to the health of mother and baby.
7. Encourages community support.
A prenatal yoga class is an excellent place to connect with other expecting mamas and a place to share your experiences and emotions. Starting to 'build your village' during pregnancy will be invaluable in the post-natal period, having a support system is crucial for your recovery and your enjoyment as a new mama.
As a pregnancy yoga teacher I feel passionate about supporting women in their pregnancy and post-natal recovery. I believe that when we learn to take care of ourselves during pregnancy, through nutrition and movement, we feel empowered and strong to adjust to the dramatic changes we go through. And of course, for the health of your baby too.
My classes are focused on dynamic movement and breath awareness. By becoming more aware of our breath and body it allows you to feel confident and trust your body through this process. Classes are strong yet gentle and safe for pregnancy to keep your body strong and supple.
If you would like to join a pregnancy yoga class, I teach regularly on Sundays 9.15am at 6 Ways Yoga.