Hi! So you know I’m continuing to stay active throughout my pregnancy with running, strength training, walking and an occasional session on the elliptical. One thing I haven’t tried is prenatal yoga. I kind of fell out of my yoga practice last fall, after doing it 1-2x a week for 2 years. I really miss yoga but haven’t found a way to fit it into my life right now.
Gaiam contacted me about doing a guest post about prenatal yoga on my blog and I thought it would be the perfect opporotunity for me to learn more about it, along side of you. So with this post I’ll be trying a prenatal yoga class this week.
Some info on prenatal yoga:
Yoga brings together the mind and the body to achieve a state of relaxation and peacefulness. It is offered in a variety of styles and intensities to increase physical fitness and successfully manage stress or chronic health conditions through postures and controlled breathing. Whether done as a supplement to your normal exercise routine or as a way to help enhance physical and mental health, choosing to engage in a yoga practice will help you to feel relaxed and capable of handling daily challenges.
Pregnancy presents a multitude of physical and psychological changes in women. Each decision a pregnant woman makes must take into consideration the health of her unborn baby. Good prenatal care is essential and includes a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, adequate rest, medical care, and gaining weight in a range considered healthy. Prenatal yoga provides a way for women to relieve stress and improve physical fitness at the same time. Yoga for pregnancy makes accommodations for the physical limitations of pregnancy to ensure the safety and well-being of mother and child. Fully participating in the stretches and exercises involved in a yoga practice is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure, both of which may be compromised during pregnancy.
Yoga for pregnancy will be composed of a series of stretches, postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation or cool-down period. These exercises help reduce tension in the body and as a pregnancy progresses, minimize the discomforts associated with physical changes and your growing body such as back pain, problems with digestion, and swelling. Breathing is done through the nose in a focused, slow manner which is a technique also valuable in preparation for childbirth and contractions. Pranayama is used in yoga as a breathing method to clear the mind and body, therefore maximizing the beneficial aspects of yoga postures. With each inhale the body brings in oxygen essential for the mother and her baby and the exhale expunges the carbon dioxide present in the body.
Prenatal yoga features a variety of hip opening exercises that are safe to perform throughout pregnancy. The Cobbler’s Pose is performed in a seated position with knees bent and the soles of the feet touching. Completing this position with your back to the wall will help provide support and remain in the stretch for a longer period of time to maximize the opening of the hips and groin. A variation while seated is to then engage in the Fire Log Pose by placing one ankle to the opposite knee, keeping the shin and ankle parallel and both feet flexed. Stretches like the Dog and Cat Poses stretch the entire length of the spine through the neck, helping relieve some of the tension in the lower back from carrying a significant amount of weight in your uterus during pregnancy. Beginning in table position on all fours, the Dog Pose consists of letting the belly drop to the floor while gazing upwards and the Cat Pose reverses this by rounding the back and moving your focus to the floor. Alternating between the two and being careful not to overextend in either direction is an essential yoga posture for pregnancy.
Standing postures such as the Warrior I and II strengthen joints and improve balance and may be easier to perform than sitting stretches as the uterus continues to grow and expand. The feeling of invigoration through completing prenatal yoga postures is continued through the relaxation period where close attention is paid to the breathing and thought process. Self-awareness is crucial during yoga to ensure that you do not cause injury to yourself or participate too intensely. Yoga during pregnancy provides a wide range of physical and psychological health benefits that beginners and experienced women can participate in.
Erica Hill is writing on behalf of Gaiam TV, a healthy lifestyle and media company that offers a wide variety of online including prenatal and restorative yoga videos.
I’m excited to give Gaiam TV a try for a month and see which DVD’s I like. AND I have the chance to offer 2 of you free months as well! Go check it out and you’ll see there is plenty to choose from yoga to Jillian Michaels. I’m ready to feel the flow again!