Prenatal yoga started out as a fitness trend, but it’s become a fitness practice with staying power. Yoga is a great form of pregnancy exercise because it’s effective, yet low impact.
What is prenatal yoga?
Yoga is a practice that focuses on both physical poses and spiritual discipline. Its roots date back to ancient India, but over the past few decades, it’s become a mainstream practice worldwide.
Prenatal yoga is the act of practicing yoga while pregnant. However, unlike “regular” yoga, there are some poses that pregnant women generally shouldn’t attempt (more on that later). As such, prenatal yoga focuses more on pregnancy-safe positions and poses and, especially, on breathing.
Benefits of prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga has many benefits for pregnant women.
First, practicing yoga while pregnant is a great way to stay in good physical shape. Many forms of exercise can be too challenging, or even unsafe, for pregnant women (contact sports, for example). Yoga, on the other hand, can be a healthy way to maintain your physical strength during pregnancy.
Second, yoga focuses on coordinating muscle groups and movements. Your pregnant body works differently than you’re used to. Spending this time connecting to your body, with all its physical changes, can be beneficial.
Third, yoga focuses on deep breathing. This is more important in pregnancy than ever. Your body uses more oxygen when pregnant and deep breathing can become more challenging as your baby grows. Plus, delivery is a physically taxing event and breathing plays a key role.
Things to avoid when practicing prenatal yoga
Although it is generally safe, there are a few precautions pregnant women should take.
- Know your physical limitations. Even if you’ve been practicing yoga for a long time, your pregnant body is different. Your joints will be looser, your balance may be off, etc.
- Keep it cool — no hot yoga. Excessive heat isn’t safe for pregnant women. It can make you dizzy, ill, and compromise your and your baby’s health.
- Avoid certain poses. Inversion poses like head or shoulder stands aren’t safe during pregnancy. You could fall and injure yourself or your baby. Being upside-down can also make you feel dizzy and light-headed.
You should also avoid any poses that put pressure or strain on your abdominals. Twists and inversions can stress your already-strained abdominal muscles and uterine ligaments. This can cause you pain or injury now and also increase your chances of experiencing diastasis recti.
Prenatal yoga can be very beneficial. It can lower your stress, maintain or improve your fitness level, and contribute to a more comfortable and healthy pregnancy.
By checking with your provider and following just a few safety precautions, you can make prenatal yoga a key part of your pregnancy fitness routine.