Prenatal Yoga: 10 Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga
Opinions on what women should and shouldn’t do during pregnancy vary across different cultures. Some insist on moms-to-be slowing down and pretty much spending most of their pregnancy in bed. Others encourage them to stay active.
If you’re confused, my future mommas, rest assured. It’s been scientifically proven that, if you and your baby are healthy, exercise and yoga during pregnancy is beneficial for both of you. Even in late term.
So, let’s look at 10 benefits of prenatal yoga.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
1. You’ll Develop Overall Strength, Endurance, Flexibility, and the Sense of Balance
During pregnancy, your body experiences numerous changes. As your little one grows in your belly, you need an increasing amount of strength to carry the weight. Your gravity center shifts forward as your belly expands, making it harder to balance and maintain a good posture.
Some easy everyday tasks become a lot harder, too. Try putting on shoes in the third trimester, and you’ll know what I mean.
In addition to all that, a hormone called relaxin loosens your muscles. It happens so that your hips can expand and make it easier for you to birth the baby.
While relaxin increases your flexibility, it also makes your joints more vulnerable to injury. That’s why you’re advised not to lift heavy if you’ve not done it before.
Yoga is excellent for all of the above. It makes you stronger and more flexible and improves your balance and posture. It also strengthens and stabilizes the muscles around your joints.
2. Prenatal Yoga Helps You Practice Breath Work
Breath is something we rarely think of in our everyday lives. Yet it’s extremely important during labor.
You may have seen women rapidly breathing during contractions in movies. Well, that’s not what you should be doing. You won’t get enough oxygen, become even more stressed out, may get dizzy, and even hyperventilate.
What’s effective, in actuality, is slow and deep breathing. It signals the nervous system to relax and can help you to cope with pain better. It’ll get you through contractions easier and save you energy. And perhaps even speed up labor.
No yoga class goes by without focusing on the breath. Prenatal yoga is not different.
One of the benefits of pregnancy yoga is that it’s a perfect breathing practice for labor. You learn how to focus your attention on your breath and lengthen your inhales and exhales. You’ll also practice deep belly breathing and use your breath to relax your body.
Ultimately, what you’d also learn in childbirth classes.
3. You’ll Strengthen Your Hips and Improve Hip Mobility
Although relaxin will lengthen your muscles, that alone may not be enough. Developing additional flexibility in the hip joints through prenatal yoga will better prepare you for labor. It’ll make it easier to adopt different positions during it.
In addition, flexibility without strength can be dangerous. Especially during pregnancy. By practicing standing and balancing postures, you’ll be able to stabilize your hip joints. You’ll strengthen the muscles around them, thus making hip pain or injury less likely.
4. Prenatal Yoga Keeps Your Core Strong
Having a strong core is always a good idea, and even more so while you’re expecting. It will provide additional support for your back, especially the lumbar area.
It’ll also make pushing during labor easier and recovery after childbirth faster.
Keep in mind, though, that pregnancy isn’t the time for hardcore ab work or crunches. During pregnancy, you should avoid yoga poses that involve that.
Many yoga poses will need to be modified, too. Otherwise, you risk developing a severe case of diastasis recti that may be difficult to heal.
5. Prenatal Yoga Strengthens the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a part of the core that, like a hammock, supports the inner organs and the baby during pregnancy. Strong pelvic floor muscles can make carrying the increasing weight more comfortable.
On the other hand, weakened muscles can cause quite a few health issues. Such as urinary incontinence, bowel problems, lower back pain, pain and inability to orgasm during sexual intercourse.
Since I’m pretty sure you don’t want any of those, try yoga. It is great for targeting these muscles because there is lots of work on the deeper layers of the core. Including the pelvic floor.
6. Prenatal Yoga Relieves Pain and Tension
Because of the many changes happening in your body, you’re likely going to feel aches and discomfort in your shoulders, back, and neck.
Yoga can help you ease that by strengthening and opening different areas of the body. It’ll also improve your posture, which can help you to alleviate tension and discomfort.
7. You’ll Be in a Better Mood and Experience Less Depression, Stress, and Anxiety
Pregnancy sends your hormones on a wild rollercoaster. As a result, your mood and emotional well-being can drastically suffer. As a matter of fact, about 20% of pregnant women experience major depression.
Different factors can also cause stress, anxiety, irritability, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Practicing yoga can help with the above because it calms the nervous system. It increases the number of neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for a good mood.
8. You’ll Be Able to Better Connect with Your Baby
When I was expecting, I was working a full-time office job. I knew that during my leave, there would be no one there to take over my duties. That meant doing lots of work to make sure everything kept functioning while I was not there.
You’re likely in a similar situation.
In addition, you also need to learn tons about how to take care of a little human, do the shopping for the baby, prep the nursery, and go to the doctor’s appointments.
As a result, you may not have much time to just be there and simply enjoy your pregnancy.
During yoga, you get the chance to slow down, be in the now, breathe, and focus on what’s going on inside you.
Being able to better connect with your baby is also among the benefits of pregnancy yoga. Studies have also shown that expecting yogi mothers reported a stronger bond with their babies.
9. You Can Make New Mommy Friends
The benefits of pregnancy yoga aren’t just about your body. If you take a prenatal yoga class, you have a great chance of meeting likeminded (yoga and healthy lifestyle loving) future mommies. And you can keep in touch with them after your babies arrive.
You’ll be able to not only share experiences, give advice, and support each other, but will also have more playdate options later in the future.
10. Prenatal Yoga Helps You Recover Faster after Delivery
Your activity level and the intensity of your practice will likely drop during pregnancy. And there may be periods of time when you don’t do anything at all. Nonetheless, doing yoga during pregnancy can prove to be beneficial even after you have your baby.
Studies have shown that active moms can have an easier time bouncing back after pregnancy.
You are one curious momma and wonder why that’s so. Got you!
In strength training, there’s a term “muscle memory” that refers to the ability of muscles to “remember” what they were able to do before a lot faster than learning something new. Even if they haven’t done it for a long time. Sort of like picking up your bike again after several years and being able to get back to where you left off in virtually no time.
You can regain muscle mass and strength you’ve previously had much quicker than if you were just starting out.
So, if you keep coming to prenatal yoga and working on your core (and other parts of your body), you may have a much easier time regaining your strength and resuming your everyday activities.
And finally, always …
Listen to Your Body and Stay Safe
You have a little human growing inside you, so it’s important to be careful about what you do. Make sure that your baby is developing well, there are no complications, and you are feeling well.
Talk to your obstetrician first and get a green light to practice yoga and/or exercise. And always take notice of how your body feels.
If you are experiencing morning sickness, are tired, or just feel like you need to sleep, rest, or binge-watch some Modern Family instead of going to yoga, then perhaps that’s a better option. And definitely stop, and don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you feel that something’s not right.
Check out pregnancy yoga dos and dont’s for more information.
Are you expecting? (Congratulations if so!!!) Are you doing prenatal yoga? How about other types of exercise? Is that making you feel better, and how?