For anyone who’s already a practitioner of yoga, you need no persuasion about its benefits. From improved blood circulation, muscle strength, coordination to weight loss, this ancient practice is well-loved by many. What about prenatal yoga though? Is it safe enough to practice while pregnant?
The answer is a resounding yes. As long as you receive instruction from a certified yoga teacher, you are in safe hands. Be sure to voice any discomforts and know your own limits. In general, pre-natal yoga is gentle enough to impart health benefits, boosting your immune system, while potentially helping you with your birthing process.
According to research from the Mayo Clinic, prenatal yoga can:
1. Improve sleep
2. Reduce stress and anxiety: breathing exercises improve the flow of oxygen in your body and to your brain, alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety.
3. Improve strength, flexibility, and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth: these are your pelvic floor, hip, and abdominal core muscles.
4. Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
5. Decrease headaches and shortness of breath.
6. General improvement in mood: exercise releases endorphins, the hormone that helps to boost mood and sense of wellbeing.
7. Bonus: meet other soon-to-be mothers! Prenatal yoga classes could also offer an opportunity to connect with other moms-to-be. If you’re looking to build a casual support network, share tips and make friends, these classes could prove to be a great chance to connect.
Some general tips to make sure you’re practicing safely:
1. Know your limits. Certain styles of yoga, such as Bikram yoga or hot yoga, may be too strenuous. Bikram yoga involves practicing in a room set at 38 – 43 deg C, resulting in copious perspiration that could lead to rapid dehydration. If you have not tried this style of yoga prior to your pregnancy, it may be advisable to avoid this until after your pregnancy.
2. Do your research. Make sure your teacher is certified and inform them of any prior injuries.
3. Know your body. Be aware of any discomfort and know when to stop. Don’t force yourself into positions or overdo it.
4. Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water after any physical activity.
5. Wear comfortable, supportive yoga gear. Neither too tight nor too loose, invest in yoga gear that can see you into your post-pregnancy days. If you’re nursing, our yoga nursing bras will be an invaluable item in your wardrobe as you go about your active days.
As long as you’re getting your 30 minutes of exercise a day, it doesn’t matter how you do it – from walking to swimming, what counts is that you’re keeping active and taking care of your overall wellbeing. Prenatal yoga is just one of many options – stay fit and healthy, mama!