Any expectant mother can tell you that keeping fit while pregnant can be quite a challenge. As it gets more and more difficult to move, many forms of exercise become exceedingly awkward if not completely unsafe.
Today, more and more women are practicing yoga throughout their pregnancies and achieving outstanding results. Research has shown that, when paired with a low-impact cardiovascular exercise such as walking, many types of yoga can help pregnant women maintain flexibility and muscle tone while significantly improving overall balance and circulation. And, of course, yoga accomplishes all of this without causing undue pressure and impact on sensitive connective tissue and joints.
The Specific Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Experts recommend that expectant mothers find a reputable prenatal yoga class that caters specifically to pregnant women. Revolving around stretching, mental centeredness, and focused breathing, prenatal yoga shares much in common with many modern childbirth-preparation classes and exercises. Prenatal yoga has been proven to assist women and babies alike by:
- Improving sleep
- Reducing anxiety and stress
- Developing the muscles needed for childbirth
- Preventing and/or alleviating lower back pain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, nausea, and shortness of breath
- Decreasing overall risks of preterm labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and intrauterine growth restriction (a condition that significantly hiders the growth of the fetus).
Like any form of exercise while pregnant, yoga should be practiced with a great deal of caution and pursued with the full knowledge of your family physician and/or Ob-Gyn. If you cannot find a yoga class that is specifically geared toward expectant mothers, a general Hatha (or “gentle”) yoga class is a great alternative. Under no circumstances should you attempt any form of Bikram (or “hot”) yoga.
No matter what yoga class you take, as a pregnant woman, you must take care to skip any problematic movements such as those that require you to lie flat on your back for more than a few minutes. These precautions become even more critical as you progress through your first, second, and third trimesters.