Having a baby is an incredible life changing magical experience. During this time it is important that time is taken to nurture and cultivate positive emotions and feelings of wellbeing. Yoga is the perfect activity it will enhance and support your pregnancy and prepare both body and mind for birth and beyond.
Amongst many things Yoga encourages mindful movement; which becomes extremely valuable as the body changes in shape, becoming aware of how you move, sit, stand and lie will provide protection and minimise any strain or joint pain.
Yoga also helps to balance emotions; this is beneficial as there are times during pregnancy when hormone levels change and becoming a “little” emotional is only to be expected. Yoga will provide you with techniques to help you adjust to these changes and cope when you feel physically or emotionally challenged.
Yoga will teach you valuable breathing and relaxation techniques and provide a time for you to connect with your growing baby.
It is no secret that during pregnancy the body is undergoing continuous changes, many of which are necessary and some of which are of course side effects due to the constant changes. It is usual to feel tired and for some a little anxious too, pain can be experienced as the body changes shape, bowel movement may become sluggish, you might find that you pass water more than usual as the baby may apply pressure to the bladder, the body may swell and emotions can run wild! Yoga can help us embrace these changes so long as your yoga practice is a gentle, safe, effective and nurturing.
Yoga during pregnancy will:-
- Relieve Stress
- Encourage relaxation
- Enhance a healthy sleep pattern
- Improve circulation
- Balance emotions and helps to control mood swings
- Strengthen and lengthen necessary muscles
- Relieves edema (fluid retention)
- Reduces nausea
- Relieves tension around the cervix and birth canal
- Helps open the pelvis to ease labor
- Provides techniques to relieve pain
- Calms the mind
- Improves patience and tolerance levels
- strengthen the bond between mother and baby
- Prepares body and mind for labor
One of the great things about pre natal yoga is that practices include sitting comfortably with a straight spine and breathing slowly or lying on your left hand side just resting and breathing slowly. So if the thought of performing yoga postures (asanas) at any time during your pregnancy feels a little inappropriate then do not fear, because it still possible to enjoy some of the many benefits that practicing yoga during your pregnancy will bring by relaxing and just breathing.
It is important to realise that with each new day brings a different set of circumstances as the body changes so too will your yoga practice and your ability to perform postures. Energy levels will change constantly and as the baby grows and begins to move inside you, there are just some days when the baby is not in a position that permits you to practice yoga – you will recognise these days and find gentle relaxation and breathing practices to be more beneficial. Just make sure that you always listen to your body and if anything feels uncomfortable then don’t do it. If you have been pregnant before you will also realise that no two pregnancies are the same so again make sure that you listen to your body.
Always practice yoga mindfully and listen to your body if something feels uncomfortable don’t do it. Do not compete with yourself or others. Take time to rest and enjoy your pregnancy.
It is important now to mention that before you commence your pre natal yoga practice you should always consult either your GP or midwife as they can advise you when the time is right for you to begin your yoga practice. If there is a history of difficult or complicated pregnancies it might be advisable to focus on relaxation and meditation techniques.
Having a baby is a magical life changing experience. Yoga has the ability to enhance this experience for all parties.
Sue Fuller is a leading yoga teacher with a range of over 40 audio yoga classes, including a selection of pre and post natal Yoga classes. All yoga classes are available on CD or as a MP3 download from www.wellbeingworldonline.com or from www.yoga2hear.co.uk. Classes are easy-to-follow and suitable for all levels of yoga experience.
Sue is also the author of The British School of Yoga Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teachers Course, The resident yoga expert for Natural Health Magazine UK and a mother of two.