Great Exercise During Pregnancy: Pregnant Yoga

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You probably already know that staying active while pregnant can have all kinds of great benefits for you and your baby. Besides pregnant stretches, prenatal yoga is a great way to get physically stronger and emotionally healthier during pregnancy. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, the modified moves taught in prenatal yoga are both safe and beneficial to expectant moms. Plus, women with difficult pregnancies may find comfort in yoga’s gentle motions and breathing.

 

Benefits of Pregnant Yoga

 

Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, pregnancy yoga is a multifaceted approach to help alleviate aches and build strength in your legs, back and abdominals to prepare you for giving birth. Yoga also can ease labor and delivery, with moves that relax the hip muscles and use gravity to your advantage.

Research suggests that pregnant yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.

  • Improve sleep
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
  • Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, headaches and shortness of breath

 

Pregnant yoga can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent.

 

Prenatal Yoga safety precautions

 

As with any exercise, you need to take certain general precautions when you’re pregnant.

  • Avoid lying on your back, especially after the first trimester.
  • Skip headstands and shoulder stands.
  • Skip positions that require extreme stretching of the abdominal muscles.
  • Avoid doing yoga in hot, humid conditions.
Some Pregnancy Yoga Poses

 

  1. Standing Mountain

To warm up your muscles, most yoga sequences start with this pose: Stand with feet farther than hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and toes pointed straight ahead, your palms touching at “heart center” (in front of your chest). Close your eyes and breathe deeply

  • Inhale and sweep your arms out and overhead, bending back slightly (next slide).
  • Exhale and stand upright, returning your hands to your heart center.
  • Repeat for 10 full breaths.

  1. Supported Triangle

Triangle strengthens your entire body. Stand with your feet farther than shoulder-width apart. Face your right toes forward and left toes out. Bend your left leg, placing your left hand on the thigh, eyes looking down (this slide).

  • Inhale, then exhale as you lift your right arm above your shoulder and turn your head, eyes looking up. Place your left arm on your thigh for support (next slide).
  • Hold for 1 full breath as you lower your right arm and straighten leg. Return to starting position, then repeat for 5 full breaths.
  • Reverse feet and repeat sequence on the other side.

  1. Cow (Cat/Cow Sequence)
  • Kneel on all fours, abdominals drawn in. Inhale and gently arch your back, tipping your tailbone up, eyes looking up toward the sky (this slide).
  • Exhale and round your back as you tuck your chin in toward your chest (next slide).
  • Sit back on your heels into Child’s Pose and relax for 1 breath.
  • Repeat sequence 10 times. Remain in Child’s Pose for 5 slow breaths to cool down.

  1. Supported Squat
  • Stand with your feet wider than hips, with a stack of pillows on the floor behind you. Bend your knees to lower your hips into a deep squat, sitting on the pillows, palms together at your heart center.
  • Breathe: Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose as you relax your pelvic floor (the muscles surrounding the vagina). Hold for 10 full breaths, then go onto hands and knees for the next move. This move is a great preparation for birth.

Note: This pose is not recommended if you are experiencing any signs of premature labor.

 

  1. Child’s Pose
  • Kneel on all fours, abdominals drawn in. Inhale and gently arch your back, tipping your tailbone up, eyes looking up toward the sky.
  • Exhale and round your back as you tuck your chin in toward your chest (previous slide).
  • Sit back on your heels into Child’s Pose and relax for 1 breath (this slide).
  • Repeat sequence 10 times. Remain in Child’s Pose for 5 slow breaths to cool down.

 

The benefits of yoga aren’t limited to your pregnancy and physical well-being.  Taking a prenatal yoga class is also a great way to socialize and meet other pregnant women.  Being in a positive, supportive environment with others can give you a regular emotional boost and keep you motivated to continue exercising.

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