Yoga During Pregnancy: An Expert’s Guide

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These days it is common practice  for thousands of women to find comfort and relief from common pregnancy troubles through yoga. That being said, not all yoga is appropriate for your growing baby. Luckily, over the years yogis have developed a separate branch of yoga for to-be mothers. Called prenatal yoga, this form of yoga uses traditional yoga postures and concepts to target the special needs of expectant mothers.

At a prenatal yoga class, you’ll get the opportunity to try low impact poses targeted towards your pregnant body and mind. Whether you practice in a class or at home, you should try adding some of these pregnancy approved yoga postures to your day.

Cat/Cow Pose

There’s not a pregnant woman in the world who isn’t familiar with lower back pain. As your abdomen stretches, the muscles weaken. This throws off your center of gravity and puts undue pressure on your lower back to support your posture and growing belly. As your belly gets bigger, it also begins to put strain on your spine, so it’s no surprise that back pain is one of the most common pregnancy symptoms.

The gentle movement of Cat/Cow Pose, also known as Marjaryasana Bitilasana, can help to bring relief to your lower back and spine while stretching your abs. The tabletop position that you must assume for this pose provides special relief for the spine. Keep this in mind when you’re facing labor pains. Gently stretching your abdomen is also a natural way to treat pregnancy related constipation.

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Extended Triangle Pose

Extended Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana, stretches your shoulders, back, and inner thighs, helping your body to prepare for the many hours you’ll spend in labor. Although this pose usually reduces neck pain, roaming eyes in this position can cause neck strain, so be sure to focus your drishti (gaze) or close your eyes.

Another common pregnancy complaint is indigestion. One minute your body is begging you for food and the next it seems to be punishing you for eating! Extended Triangle Pose is known for helping with indigestion.

King Pigeon Pose

King Pigeon Pose might just be the king of all hip openers. Stretching your hips, thighs, and groin is super important during pregnancy because these areas will be under serious strain during delivery. Increasing strength and flexibility in these areas can bring you great comfort during labor. Luckily for you, King Pigeon Pose targets all of these spots.

Your body naturally releases a hormone to help loosen up your joints and connective tissue, so you should be wary of overstretching in this posture. As your belly grows, you may need to add props like a block or strap in order to safely work this asana.

Child’s Pose

This restful pose is ideal for those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed. Child’s Pose is helpful in stretching your hips and bringing relief to your lower back, so it’s a double whammy. This posture is deeply relaxing, helping to reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep, something pregnant women need way more of. Some women also use Child’s Pose to treat nausea, so try out this relaxing pose when you’re feeling morning sickness coming on.

Savasana

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class before, you’re probably familiar with Savasana, also known as Corpse Pose or Resting Pose. Traditionally, you lie on your back in Savasana at the end of your practice for a few minutes. Some people consider it the dessert of their yoga practice.

Pregnant women should keep in mind that after the first trimester, it is unsafe to rest on your back, as it could cut off blood flow to the fetus. In order to reap the benefits of relaxing Savasana, try lying on your side instead of your back. You can use pillows or blankets to cushion your head and joints in order to make Savasana more comfortable.

Tips

If you’re like most healthy women, yoga is probably a great addition to your pregnancy routine, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is always important. Not only does water help you to detox chemicals, keep you regular, and make your skin glow, but becoming dehydrate could have serious repercussions for your baby. Dehydration can even cause preterm birth. Be sure to eat fruit, drink lots of water, and reduce caffeine intake to stay hydrated. Don’t worry if you have to run to the bathroom five times in one yoga class, you won’t be the only one.

Eat a Snack

Pregnant or not, there’s no shame in needing to nosh. As your pregnancy advances, your metabolism will increase, meaning you’ll need more calories. Hello, cravings! You should always have a healthy snack like hummus or a banana with you when you’re pregnant to avoid low blood sugar and lightheadedness, but it’s especially important to have a light bite before exercising. Don’t over do it though!

No Hot Yoga

Scientists believe that extreme heat can cause birth defects, so hot yoga and Bikram are best avoided at this time.

Treat Yourself

Maybe most importantly, you should remember to treat yourself. Whether that means getting a prenatal massage or sleeping in, you need all the self-love that you can muster.

Show yourself, and your growing baby, some radical kindness by going to a prenatal yoga class. Between the stretching, meditating, and meeting new friends, prenatal yoga might just change the way you experience your pregnancy. Whatever you do, don’t forget to breathe!

Kosta Miachin is the creator of VIKASA Yoga method - a unique, challenging and effective approach to yoga. He is also the founder of VIKASA Yoga Academy. You can find him online: http://www.vikasayoga.com

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