Watch this video on a very famous movie star performing sessions of yoga. She is in her second trimester and these yoga are mostly helpful for pregnant women.
Yoga and pregnancy
Yoga can help women get through their pregnancy with minimal discomfort. It also helps the birth and post-delivery stages.
Independent midwife Manijeh Nedas says: ‘In my experience, I believe that yoga plays a very important role in pregnancy. Generally, pregnant mums who do yoga exercises appear healthier, both in mind and body. Their bodies are more flexible, which enables them to adapt to various positions when in labour and the ligaments are more elastic, which in turn can help to reduce labour pain.’
Andrea Fox, an antenatal yoga teacher in Somerset, says that yoga classes help to boost circulation and also help with fluid retention. The stretching exercises relieve aches and pains.
Posture is also improved by yoga and this can help ease back problems, which are common in pregnant women.
She adds: ‘Yoga helps to prepare for the birth – it encourages breath and body awareness, reduces worry and teaches women to adapt to new situations.’
And yoga continues to have benefits after pregnancy, too. Postnatal yoga, which can be started about six weeks after the birth, strengthens abdominal muscles and your pelvic floor. It also helps you to get back to your pre-pregnancy shape faster.
Starting yoga is no different to starting any other form of exercise – the same advice applies.
If you are not used to regular exercise then you should start slowly and if you are pregnant of course, take it very easy at first. If you already had a yoga practise before becoming pregnant then it is good to continue.
Many mums-to-be prefer to wait until the 2nd trimester to begin again. If you are new to yoga, find a qualified prenatal instructor. If in doubt consult your doctor or midwife.
According to Andrea Fox, any position which feels uncomfortable should be left out. Ms Fox points out: ‘Lying on the front soon becomes inappropriate.
Strong back bends are to be avoided, as are postures that involve using the tummy muscles strongly, such as the boat pose, or supine leg rising. Any posture involving balance should be tackled with great care.’
Mothers-to-be should pay attention not to overstretch the body – the ligaments around the joints become loose and soft during pregnancy. The abdomen should stay relaxed at all times so one can use the gluteus muscles instead.
One should not try to ‘work out’ too hard, but stay in one’s comfort zone and use the class to open, relax and stretch, without overexertion or overheating.
However very often pregnant women feel fantastic and strong and really enjoy using their bodies. Giving birth can be strenuous so keeping fit and healthy is excellent preparation.
No kind of pain or nausea should be felt during or after yoga. If this happens, you should stop exercising and contact your GP or midwife.
After giving birth, it is advisable to continue with the pregnancy modifications to the yoga poses for another 4 to 6 months, as ligaments and muscles have not yet returned to normal, and one needs to go slow and not strain them.