Prenatal yoga

Pregnancy is a roller coaster ride both mentally and physically. From a growing tummy to raging hormones, a woman’s body is put to the test every single day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a way to calm your mind and strengthen your body? If you’re looking for a way to stay fit, flexible, and help clear your head, then a prenatal yoga class might be just what you need.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises women to do modified yoga, or more specifically, a prenatal yoga class, if they’re going to continue their practice during pregnancy. Prenatal classes are one of the best ways for beginners to practice yoga because they often teach modified poses that accommodate a pregnant woman’s shifting balance.

Benefits of prenatal yoga

Participating in a prenatal yoga class not only gives you time to bond with other moms-to-be, but it also provides the fundamentals of the practice. Prenatal yoga has a number of benefits including:

  • Easing tension
  • Boosting mood
  • Encouraging stretching
  • Helping with mental centering
  • Focusing the breath
  • Improving sleep
  • Decreasing lower back pain
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Increasing the strength/flexibility of the muscles needed for childbirth (which can help with an easier delivery)
  • Being gentle enough not to put a strain on your body when you stick with poses recommended in a prenatal class

The deep breathing and centering learned from yoga can help a mom-to-be face the physical and mental and emotional demands of labor and birth, and learning deep breathing is the foundation of any prenatal yoga class. Additionally, many prenatal classes focus on poses that address pregnancy-related concerns, such as strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, opening the hips and pelvis, and postural alignment.

Safe forms of yoga

According to the Mayo Clinic, prenatal yoga and restorative yoga are the best choices for pregnant women interested in yoga. Most experts recommend avoiding Bikram, or hot yoga, because it involves doing rigorous poses in a room heated above 95 F (35 C), which can raise the body temperature to an unsafe heat. They also caution against ashtanga (and other types of power yoga), which might be too strenuous for beginner and even intermediate levels.

Postures to avoid

The Mayo Clinic also advises women to be selective of the poses performed, and only practice the ones that are safe for pregnancy. It’s important to maintain normal spine curvature, avoid lying on your belly or back, stay away from doing deep forward or backward bends, or doing twisting poses that put pressure on your abdomen. Unless you’re advanced in the practice of yoga, they also caution against doing inverted poses, which involve extending your legs above your heart or head.

About the author:
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer focusing on parenting, health, and wellness. She is passionate about all things fitness and health and loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and son. 

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Prenatal yoga: What you need to know.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, December 15 2015. Retrieved July 12 2017.
  • “Exercise After Pregnancy.” American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians. Frequently Asked Questions, Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum Care 131. June 2015. Retrieved July 12 2017.
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