Establishing a yoga routine during pregnancy helps the moms-to-be to remain in prime condition before and during childbirth, and in combating postnatal depression and stress. Read on to know more about how yoga for pregnant women keeps them healthier and more relaxed.
Pregnancy is a period of anticipation, filled with both, the fear and the joy of having a baby. It is also a time when your body goes through various physical and mental changes. While there are other physical exercises that help, yoga has been known to be a beneficial way to deal with changes of the body and mind during pregnancy.
The art of yoga originated in ancient India and has since then become a popular way of increasing flexibility, building strength, and decreasing the stress levels. This versatile discipline has also been modified to suit the physiological needs of the moms-to-be. Prenatal yoga not only relieves the pregnant women from the mental stress of pregnancy, but also allows the body to remain fit during labor and childbirth. It can help in providing respite to pregnant women from common problems like fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, cramps, and swelling. With the correct guidance by an experienced trainer, yoga exercises can increase flexibility, strength, and balance. As your trainer will tell you, routine practice of yoga can be incorporated in your daily life, by the regular practicing of asanas, pranayama, and yoga meditation. You may now be wondering about the yoga exercises that are safe for both you, and the baby. As each person’s body and health is unique, so are the level of risks involved. Therefore, before you can start your yoga routine, it is important to consult the doctor.
Yoga Poses for Pregnant Women
While starting off with your yoga exercises, choose some simple asanas which do not overstretch the muscles and ligaments. Also take into account the trimester of the pregnancy. While in the first trimester, the sitting and standing postures like, ‘the mountain’, ‘the triangle’, etc. are considered safe bets, during the second and third trimester, remember to cut down on the time of the sessions to avoid fatigue. Avoid back and belly poses and do not hold the positions for too long. Poses like ‘the hero’, ‘the sage twist’, and ‘the full butterfly’ are considered beneficial during the second and third trimester.
Breathing Exercises: The basic yoga techniques taught to pregnant women, are the breathing exercises which are considered vital for the control of the energy (prana). A few simple Pranayams (breath control) helps in releasing the emotional tension and the likelihood of postnatal depression. Some of the suggested breathing exercises are a mild form of kapalbhati and lots of anuloma-viloma.
- Kapalbhati: Take two normal breaths and then inhale. Exhale while pulling in the abdomen, (remember not to stretch the muscles of the stomach) and repeat as required while keeping the emphasis on exhalation. Inhale and exhale fully before inhaling once, and hold your breath for as long possible. Exhale very slowly.
- Anuloma Viloma: This involves adopting the Vishnu Mudra. With your right hand, tuck your index and middle fingers into your nostrils, while placing the thumb and other fingers on either side of your nostrils. Inhale through the left nostril, while holding the right one closed with your thumb, and count to four. Close both nostrils and count to 16 before breathing out through the right nostril. Now repeat the exercise by inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left.
Mountain Pose: This helps in inducing the power of stillness and immovable stability. It involves standing up straight with both feet at hip width. Turn your heels and let the weight rest on the toes, while you let the arms hang downwards towards the body. Breathe in and out, letting your shoulders relax. While doing this asana, look straight and try to avoid motion, with as little effort as possible.
Triangle Pose: The triangle pose or Trikonasana involves starting with a downward facing dog pose and then moving the left foot forward by 1 meter. Place your left hand beside your foot and carry your weight to the lower back and on the heels of your foot in the front. Now slowly raise the upper part of your body, until the lower back is straight, while the right foot (the one at the back) rests on the floor. Stretch the leg which is in front, without bending the back or twisting your body. Keeping your back straight, look at a point on the ground, and then breathe in and out. Press your left hand against the heel and twist your chest to the left, while your hip, lower back, legs, and head remain stationary. Now stretch your right arm upward and your head to the left, while looking upward along your outstretched arm and stretching out your neck.
Hero Pose: One of the fundamental seating poses, the hero pose allows the arches of the feet and the ankles to be stretched, while also improving the posture. Place your hand and knees on the floor, keeping the knees ‘hip-width’ apart so that the thighs are parallel to one another. The feet should point backwards. Sit between your feet by slowly lowering your hips to the floor. Straighten your back, while you continue to sit tall. Place your hands on your thighs, close your eyes, and relax.
The Full Butterfly: This pose eases the tension from the inner thigh area, while stretching your knees and groin area. Sit on the yoga mat, keeping your legs stretched out. Now holding your ankles, pull both legs inwards so that your heels touch your pelvic area. Now clasping your ankles, bounce your knees fifteen to twenty times. This yoga posture helps greatly during childbirth and can be done from the first trimester itself.
It is important to keep in mind, that if a particular yogic posture causes any discomfort, then it is advisable to stop it immediately. There are many yoga classes for pregnant women, which have trained yoga practitioners to help you. With the right technique and guidance, yoga can be beneficial in keeping the moms-to-be fit, while they get ready to welcome the little angels into their lives.