Why Pregnant Women Should do Yoga
My gorgeous friend Lou from Yogi Tree is a yoga instructor with a special interest in pre-natal yoga. I have asked her to share a bit about why this is so good for expectant mummas.
Although I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years – it was falling pregnant that really made me realize how amazing it is.
I guess growing another little human being inside is the ultimate motivation for a bit of self-care, yes? During my pregnancy, yoga helped me relax my mind, stretch and open my body, all while teaching me the fundamentals of a magically strong BREATH which, boy oh boy came in handy during labour.
Putting the physical and emotional benefits aside for a minute (of which there are MANY!) – simply taking time out for yourself is something so important (and often pushed aside with our hectic lifestyles). When you take time for yourself and focus on simply BEING and BREATHING you let external distractions simply melt away…. giving you the amazing opportunity of connecting with yourself, and your child.
I love the energy of a pregnant woman – vibrant, excitable, dedicated, determined, and brimming with love. It is usually yoga that helps coax out these qualities – the focus that I see from my prenatal clients has no rival! So why should someone do prenatal yoga? What if you are a beginner? What if you have specific injuries or pregnancy complications?
♥ First things first – choose your teacher wisely. Prenatal yoga (to me) is a lot more of an intimate learning environment. A lot of my classes end up in a huge counselling session where we all start venting and sharing our experiences! Choose someone you feel comfortable with, and trust – follow your gut – a good prenatal teacher will be there to support you through EVERYTHING. Prenatal yoga is so much more than just doing a few yoga postures. Your perfect teacher will be able to specifically tailor your practice depending on your stage of pregnancy and your general health & fitness.
♥ Prenatal yoga brings so many benefits – physically you help your body stretch and open…. it’s all about creating SPACE for baby, in an increasingly restricted area! Building strength and muscle tone is something that will help your body carry the extra weight of a growing child, plus get you through an active labour and childbirth – not to mention a speedy recovery!
♥ Yoga will help improve your posture, which in turn helps you BREATHE better. A straight spine and an open chest helps prana (breath) flow. The energy of breath flowing through our bodies is our life force – when you breathe properly, your internal organs receive fresh, oxygenated blood more easily, in turn helping your whole body feel and function BETTER.
Speaking of breath – prenatal yoga will teach you the fundamentals of a beautiful, calming breath which you will use during labour. A calm and deep breath helps relax the body and clear the mind of negativity – crucial during labour. The breath also helps you focus when you are physically challenged (through dynamic yoga OR a contraction – it’s the same breath!) so by practicing during your yoga class, you are practicing for birthing your child.
♥ Pregnancy complaints such as insomnia, sciatica, lower back pain, mood swings, nausea (yes the list goes ON) can all be addressed and relieved through certain yoga postures, stretches and breathing exercises.
♥ Prenatal yoga will help you learn to TRUST your body, and let go of fear and anxiety. Through asana (yoga postures) and pranayama (yoga breath) we can address, and in turn, release negative energy which can hinder the birth process. When we tense up and fear the pain of childbirth, the physical body goes into a state of “fight or flight” where all the blood rushes to our external limbs. Through yoga (meditation & breath work) we can learn to surrender and trust that our bodies KNOW what they are doing – by staying calm & relaxed all of that blood stays pumping around the uterus, keeping labour progressing as it should.
♥ Through positive visualization and meditation, yoga can help you connect with YOUR true self…. help you find your courage and determination…. and most importantly give you some precious quiet time to connect with your child. It truly is a magical experience.
I could go on for AGES (I often DO during my classes!) about the amazingness of pregnancy and childbirth (and beyond). For me, yoga augmented my experience.
When the body, mind and spirit combine – magical things do INDEED occur.
Here’s a super easy 5 minute meditation-exercise that allows you to both connect with your breath AND your baby.
Place your hands on your belly, gently cradling the baby. Observe the sensations felt beneath your hands. (Do you feel warmth? Movement? Can you feel the gentle rhythm of your breath? Your heart?) Relax your shoulders down away from your ears and make sure your face is beautifully soft. Breathe slowly, in and out – inhaling and exhaling smoothly and deeply through your nose. (If your mind wanders off, breathe deeper into your belly – right down, deep deep deep.) If a thought arises, let it float away with your exhale. Focus on just your breath, and those subtle sensations going on inside your belly.
Try doing this for five minutes each day, gradually adding more time each week.
Hi there lovely NNAM readers, my name is Louise Mackie, and among other things I am Mum to an energetic 3 & 1/2 year old, a yoga teacher, doula and wholefood cook. I have recently started my business Yogi Tree on the Gold Coast which focuses on a few holistic “branches” of wellbeing (a few being because I have SO many interests & passions I can’t limit it to one).
Basically, my passion is helping women feel empowered to have beautiful, healthy birthing experiences through yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and good food. Preparation and education is key – starting awesome habits during pregnancy sets up your whole family for maintaining a healthy and positive lifestyle. If you live on the Gold Coast, I would love to see you at one of my yoga classes! Check out my shop on Etsy for some lovely treats for mums homemade with love.