The Lowdown on Prenatal Yoga
Are you weighing the pros and cons of various pregnancy workouts? If you are, think about yoga, which can be a good way to stay fit and limber, while also helping to manage stress. Whether you’re already an active yogi, or considering taking up the challenge for the first time, you may find that prenatal yoga is relaxing and enjoyable, not to mention the fact that it can also help prepare your mind and body for labour and delivery.
What’s So Great About Yoga for Pregnancy?
For starters, yoga helps tone your muscles, and some positions may help relieve back pain. Most positions suitable for pregnant women have a low impact on joints, making yoga a safer and more comfortable choice than other, more demanding types of exercise.
Yoga also focuses on breathing techniques and meditation, strategies that can prepare you for labour by helping you manage stress and pain. And, although you can certainly practice in the comfort of your living room, if you choose to get out and join a pregnancy yoga class, you’ll have the added benefits of prenatal yoga including meeting other moms-to-be, swapping experiences, and building friendships. The second trimester is a great time to work on your fitness, and you can learn more about what’s going on during this time here.
Prenatal Yoga for Every Trimester
As with other forms of exercise, yoga for pregnant women needs to be tailored a bit for each trimester.
Once you know your due date, the next step is to check with your healthcare provider before beginning or continuing to practice yoga during pregnancy. Next, you’ll want to find an instructor with prenatal yoga experience, or at least inform your current instructor of your pregnancy. Although there generally aren’t too many restrictions at this stage, it’s probably best to slow down a bit and not push yourself too hard.
Be aware of your changing body and shifting sense of balance during the second trimester. Move more slowly, and don’t hold prenatal yoga poses for longer than they are comfortable. You’ll want to start using a wedge or pillow to raise your upper body when lying down.
Now is the time to really slow down and take precautions. Listen to your body, and avoid certain postures like back bends or twisting poses that put pressure on your belly. A good rule of thumb is to not stretch any further than you would have before you were pregnant. You can also use props like blocks or straps for stability. Keep moving slowly, and don’t hold poses very long during the third trimester.
A Few Dos and Don’ts to Remember
Stay hydrated — drink plenty of water before, during, and after yoga.
Listen to your body. If anything is uncomfortable, stop!
Wear loose-fitting layers.
Check with your healthcare provider before engaging in any exercise.
Lie flat on your back after the first trimester.
Attempt headstands, shoulder stands, or any inverted pose.
Overstretch your abdominal muscles.
Do hot or Bikram yoga.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yoga’s not the only way to stay fit during pregnancy. Find out about other forms of pregnancy exercise, including running and Kegel exercises. And, download our pregnancy guide to find out more about symptoms and milestones coming up during your pregnancy.
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