If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you know that the benefits are beyond the realm of physical and send you into a deep dive of calm readiness to take on the hours, days and life ahead. Why wouldn’t prenatal yoga be any different? “I love seeing students feel good in their bodies and finding the rhythm between movement and breathing. Once you feel that connection, healing is definitely around the corner,” Says Kallie Marcus, certified Yoga Instructor, and owner of Kinetix-Natural Movement Bermuda. Here are the reasons why she wholeheartedly suggests finding a prenatal yoga class during pregnancy.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 1998 Women and Sleep poll, 78% during pregnancy than at other times. Fortunately, it has been reported that women who begin mindfulness meditation techniques and prenatal yoga practice in their second trimester have significantly few awakenings during the night.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
By moving through a set of focused breathing techniques, gentle stretching and postures to cool down, yoga relieves stress and tension from the body. The calm state that you feel during yoga is similar, if not the same, as the rhythm we feel in sleep. Not only does this help you to fall asleep, but it helps you to stay asleep, which is a common symptom in sleep disorders that is ignored by practitioners during pregnancy.
Increase the Strength and Flexibility
Maintaining flexibility during pregnancy allows you to adapt more quickly to the changes that your body experiences throughout pregnancy. The poses promote the correct body alignment, can reduce blood pressure, and strengthen the muscles that are needed for birth. The lack of flexibility can cause a functional muscular imbalance, which can pull the body out of alignment and even translate to postpartum pain and injury.
Decrease Lower Back Pain
The following muscle groups need consistent stretching during pregnancy and are targeted safely during mindful yoga practice: hip flexors, Iliopsoas, quadriceps (front of the thigh), lower back, pectoral (front of the chest), internal rotators of the shoulders, and the back of the neck and shoulders.
Establishes a Habit of Setting Aside Time for Self-Renewal
Prenatal yoga is a way to start (or continue) your practice of self-care. Although you’re preparing for chaos after the birth, carving out and committing your mind and body to daily practice can train your mind for needing that mind-body connection postpartum. This along with eating well, staying hydrated, and getting sufficient rest.
“A regular practise during your pregnancy improves sleep, increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles needed to give birth, decreases lower back pain, not to mention, helps you to find that village of other pregnant mums,” says Kallie, however, it’s important to remember that levels of relaxin (the hormone that relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix) increase. Relaxin also lubricates and loosens the joints and ligaments of the pelvis, which can allow you to overstretch in activities like yoga. For this reason, stretching too enthusiastically can be dangerous, as it may cause injury.
To avoid any potential problems, try not to go deeper into poses than you could before pregnancy. If you’re a beginner, “gently and slowly” should be your mantra.
Be sure to get your doctor’s approval before practicing prenatal yoga. Certain pregnancy complications might make exercise dangerous.
Tips for Safe Stretching for Prenatal Women
Perform all stretches in a slow and controlled manner—no bouncing.
Only go as far as your body comfortably allows.
For maximum effectiveness, contract the opposing muscle group as you stretch to work both sides of the pulley system simultaneously. For instance, when stretching the hamstrings, tighten your thigh muscles.
Breathe deeply and hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Try to relax excess tension that might occur in other areas of the body.
Avoid positions that tend to collapse your body weight or allow your body to give in to the force of gravity. Select positions where your spine is supported and long as you stretch.
After 20 weeks, choose stretches that keep the head above the heart.
After you reach your maximum safe extension, return gradually to your starting position.
Levana’s Well holds classes at the Kintetix-Natural Movement studio every Sunday at 10:30 AM. Click to register.