Over the past couple of decades, pregnancy yoga has increased in popularity, with women flocking to specific pregnancy yoga classes. So what’s all the fuss about?
According to the experts, not only is pregnancy yoga heaven on aching, changing bodies and a soothing way to prepare for birth, but it may also help make birth more pleasurable. Pleasure during birth, where do we sign up?!
We asked two Australian pregnancy yoga teachers to take us through the most common questions about prenatal yoga, including when it’s safe to start, and how it helps during pregnancy and birth.
Can I do yoga in early pregnancy?
Knowing exactly when to start pregnancy yoga is something to discuss with your doctor or midwife at one of your early appointments. Yoga teacher and founder of SheBirths Nadine Richardson says most yoga teachers recommend starting after 14 weeks.
“Generally the first trimester is exhausting but also the chances of miscarriage are greater,” Nadine told Mum’s Grapevine. “However, for mums that are missing their yoga desperately and who have a long-standing practice I allow them to come into classes and just avoid all the deep pelvic opening poses.”
Nadine explains it’s also not too late to start pregnancy yoga even if you’re deep into the final stretch beyond 37 weeks. “There are numerous benefits to yoga and anything is always better than something. Even if you come to class and just roll your hips around, rest in child’s pose and stretch in the downward dog it can have fantastic benefits for your sleep quality and optimal positioning.”
What yoga is safe during pregnancy?
The most appropriate form of yoga during pregnancy is, obviously, pregnancy yoga! Founder of yoga studio Evolvere, Tatiana Klesikova, says it’s a safe way to help women feel good in their changing bodies.
“Pregnancy yoga takes into consideration the physical and hormonal changes a woman’s body goes through and takes into account potential injuries a pregnant woman can experience,” she tells Mum’s Grapevine. “It also builds specific strength and stamina that directly benefits the mum-to-be during labour and can aid in a more seamless postnatal recovery.”
Experts say pregnancy yoga is safe for all stages of pregnancy and has benefits through each trimester, including:
- Connection with your baby
- Helps you feel strong
- Teaches valuable breathing techniques for labour
- Builds stamina for labour
- Eases pregnancy-specific aches and pains
- Reduction in stress and anxiety in pregnancy
- Increases pleasure during birth (really!)
“My belief is to prepare my pregnant students for a marathon,” says Tatiana. “It’s not only physical preparation but getting though labour requires a lot of mental preparation and education as well. It doesn’t matter if you are planning a vaginal birth or caesarean birth.
“Having a strong and flexible body, knowing how to breathe to manage the stress from the unknown and an open mind to be able to navigate the birth, which does not always go according to our plans will help you stay calm and present and gives you the sense of control and empowerment.”
Is pregnancy yoga hard?
According to yoga teachers, it’s actually pretty easy, even for women who have never practiced yoga before.
“It is a great time to start,” says Nadine. “Your joints will be more flexible so the space you make in the body and endorphins you release will give you a great foundation to continue going forward. And it is obviously so much easier to start now than after birth!”
How to use a yoga ball during when pregnant
While yoga balls are often used during birth, they obviously very useful while practicing pregnancy yoga.
“The simplest exercise is to do pelvic circles on the ball,” explained Tatiana. “This exercise is so underrated but oh-so beneficial as it brings more blood flow into the pelvic area, creates healthy mobility in the pelvis and alleviates lower back pain. Also, it’s wonderful to do during labour as it helps bubba to move down the birth canal.
“All fours on the ball is great for relaxing lower back pain and for pelvic floor exercises practice. Small and big backbends over the ball. Great to open the chest and stretch out the front of your body.”
(Images: SheBirths and Evolvere)
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