If you are pregnant and looking for ways to stay fit, naturally manage pregnancy pain, and alleviate stress, then prenatal yoga may be the right choice for your wellness needs. Prenatal yoga helps to prepare your mind and body for childbirth. Prenatal yoga is a multi-faceted approach that combines gentle movements and stretching with breathing exercises and meditation. This gentle form of yoga is ideal for women at all stages of their pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga has many benefits for expectant mothers. These benefits include increasing the strength, flexibility and endurance of the muscles needed for childbirth as well as helping to relieve pain associated with pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body secretes the hormone relaxin. This hormone loosens ligaments in the pelvic area, which helps accommodate the expanding uterus and growing baby. While some ligament relaxation is essential, too much relaxation can cause the pelvic bones to become unstable. As the uterus expands, it also places pressure on the lumbar spine while shifting the center of gravity outwards from the body. This combination can lead to significant pregnancy pain. Prenatal yoga helps to alleviate the lower back pain, hip pain and pelvic pain associated with pregnancy.
The following yoga poses are especially beneficial for managing pregnancy pain and preparing the body for childbirth:
#1: Extended side angle pose. This pose helps to open the hips and stretch out the side body. Extending the upper arm above the head at an angle stretches out the entire side body from back leg to the fingertips.
#2: Cat/Cow pose. Gently rocking between cat and cow pose warms up the spine and gently stretches the body, which helps to relieve back pain. This pose also helps to shift the weight of the baby away from the spine, which is also beneficial during the early stages of labor for relieving pain.
#3: Child’s pose. This relaxation pose helps to center the body, reconnecting breath with movement. Focusing on deep breathing and relaxation also prepares the mind for managing contractions during childbirth.
#4: Sitting side stretch. As you enter your third trimester, side stretches become especially important for opening the side waist, creating space in the pelvis and torso, and stretching out the hips.
In addition to managing pregnancy pain, attending prenatal yoga classes is also a great way to meet and bond with other pregnant women who are also preparing for childbirth.
Mayo Clinic, 2013. "Prenatal Yoga: What You Need to Know."