I've been asked a lot about yoga and pregnancy. Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogini, it's a wonderful way to take care of yourself and your baby-to-be.
Here are some things you should know if you are expecting...
- Most gentle types of yoga are appropriate during pregnancy. Of course, tell your obstetrician or midwife you are practicing yoga - you'll probably be given an enthusiastic "thumbs-up." If you have high blood pressure or other complications, you'll want to ask first before starting (or continuing) your yoga practice.
- Prenatal Yoga focuses a lot on opening the hips, releasing and stretching the lower back, relaxation skills, and pranayama (breath). By using and stretching the muscles you'll be needing during birth, you will essentially be making labor easier.
- Prenatal Yoga also benefits your unborn baby - when you experience peace and relaxation, so will your babe.
- While pregnant your body produces a hormone called relaxin which is intended to soften your inflexible bones and ligaments to make room for your growing baby and to prepare for birth. Avoid stretching further than you normally do, you don't want to pull a muscle.
- Try to find a Prenatal Yoga class so you'll be able to get your questions answered. It's also a great way to meet new moms - to share with women who know exactly what you're going through.
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- You may want to avoid lying flat on your back after the 1st trimester - This position puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava which will diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus and can make you dizzy.
- There are a few poses and actions you should avoid - deep twists from the belly, jumping, deep back bending, holding your breath or rapid breathing (kapalabhati), abdominal work such as boat pose, lying on your belly such as in cobra pose, Bikram/Hot yoga (you don't want to raise you body's core temp), and anything that feels uncomfortable.
- In the 3rd trimester, avoid all inversions - your baby is getting ready to move into birthing position and you don't want to disrupt that. This means any pose where your head is below your heart, even in down dog. Substitute hands and knees pose instead.
- Drink plenty of water and be sure to get the extra 300-500 calories you need during pregnancy, especially if you are exercising.
- Yoga can also alleviate some of the discomforts caused by pregnancy. There are poses for sciatic pain, round ligament pain, and yes, even morning sickness.
- Listen to your body. If you get too hot or too tired during class, take a break. And don't overdo it.