February 26, 2019 7 min read

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down,'' the quote sure seems deep and intriguing and for a novice who’s just starting to find the correct balance of his or her feet without shifting that yoga mat, such yoga quotes works like a “vitamin pill”, necessary to excel this ancient Indian way of life.

Now if you are someone who does a set or two of basic sun salutations along with your CrossFit or Pilates regimen or you are what they call a true blue “Ashtanga Yogi”, well then you are quite aware of the fact that “How Yoga is a real deal” which can take your mental, psychical state on to the celestial level.

By looking at the overall structure, form of yoga, where deep breathing, hands, and leg twisting techniques are necessary to excel, you may wonder if I can pull this off? Now, for someone who’s generally active and fit can ace this fitness form in no time and those who forever struggle with weight and chronic issues can tame their shortfalls to a great extent with yogic discipline.

That leaves set of group, who are soon going to join the club of “mommyhood”, yes, pregnant mammas who are enjoying the new phase of life where there is a lot to take onto like annoying heartburn, food cravings, swollen feet, basically all things preggers! 

As a would-be mamma, you want to be healthy and happy for that baby in the belly but secretly you are worried about weight gain, lethargy and bloating too. You pleasantly nod at the compliments like, oh look at you, chubby mama! All glowing and growing!!! But you have that fear cloud question above the head that reads, what if I can’t reduce this pregnancy weight post-baby? How do I keep fit? 

One breath at a time..

No matter the stage of your pregnancy (first or even third trimester), it’s never too late to start a prenatal yoga session.Thanks to the global awareness of this “mind and core enriched” fitness activity, there are now trusted and certified yoga centers in each lane. Or else, countless online videos and posts can guide you everything you want to know about what, why and where’s of prenatal yoga. 

Prenatal yoga keeps you physically fit but prepares you for that easy labor too. What’s more, with correct and guided breathing techniques, your baby’s health too remains A-class.  

Now, before you decide to give a go for prenatal yoga, it is very important to consult your doctor first and get to know about where you stand on the pregnancy safety meter. If you get “all healthy and no trouble” report card, you can kick start with the basic and primary asanas, breathing techniques right way, under the experts' surveillance. Please, do not attempt any twisting and balancing acts unless you get familiar with the primary or core series necessary to make you aware of “what prenatal yoga really is”. 

For mamas, who’s been advised to be extra careful (high-risk pregnancy), can totally embrace this yogic regimen too (again, consult your doc first). In fact, studies have shown that yoga can potentially be an effective therapy in reducing hypertensive related complications and improving fetal outcomes. 

During pregnancy, the body changes rapidly, but with regular yoga practice, you can embrace these changes which can make you strong and flexible in all the right places for smooth labor, delivery, and recovery.

Now before you go in search of that perfect yoga mat and pregnancy yoga wear, understand the outcomes, benefits as well as what a basic session of 30 mins yoga looks like and safety measures. 

Yoga with a bump

Listen to the bump..

Agreed, Lamaze, Pilates squatting and even brisk walking are enough to give you that strength, stamina, and overall activeness during the nine-month journey. So why pregnancy yoga? what sets it apart from the other forms of fitness regimens? 

Simply put, prenatal yoga is like a multi-faceted diamond. Basic asanas like a warrior pose, downward-facing dog, cat pose, etc give your body enough stretch which helps build up core strength and help melt excess fat. What’s more? While performing these asanas you need to concentrate on the breathing (inhale and exhale) which gives fresh oxygen to your body necessary for that mental and physical being. Needless to say, it’s a wholesome mixture of mind, body and soul fitness.

Prenatal Yoga can offer you:

  • Relief from depression, anxiety and mood swings

  • Trouble getting sleep due to constant heartburn? Take two-three sessions, you will sleep like a baby.

  • It increases the core strength, flexibility of muscles, preparing you for that “push” during childbirth.

  • Once, you are engaged in the daily session, you will notice that nausea, headaches, back pain, etc will rarely trouble you.

  • You will glow in and out. Happy hormones will never leave your side thanks to the oxygen flow you get from chanting that OM or folding hands in Namaste pose.

  • You will increase the mommy bond with fellow would-be mamas in a class. Talking about food craving, varicose veins, and frequent pee break, you can bare your heart out over laughter.

What a typical prenatal yoga session looks like:

It all starts with a yoga mat..

Now before you take up that first session, your instructor may advise you to invest in some basic pregnancy yoga gear to kick-start the regimen. Get a quality yoga mat, yoga wear(yoga tees and leggings, mommy sweatpants) and a water bottle. That’s it! 

No extra weights, No ropes. All you have to do is balance your own body weight. That’s what makes yoga even more interesting!

Breathing comes first

Before you jump to the stretch worthy asanas, you will be encouraged to focus on the breathing techniques. Gentle inhale and exhale (not rapid) is introduced with pranayama like Om, Ocean breath (ujjayi), complete breath (Dirgha pranayama) are practiced that helps in reducing shortness of breath during pregnancy. These breathing techniques help a great deal during labor.

Note: Rapid breathing forms such as bellow’s breath (bhastrika) and cleaning breath (kapalabhati) are not recommended in pregnancy.

Stretch baby stretch

Different areas of your body will get stretch and strength with simple asanas like lotus pose, head-to-knee forward bend (Janu shirshasana), warrior-two, etc. You will notice that the recurring back pain, indigestion, and stress is slowing say bye to you for good.

Note: If you are familiar with all twelve postures forming Sun Salutation(king of all the asanas), then go ahead and practice the modified version of the same around 5-6 times(slowly). If sun-salutations are new to you, then seek expert guidance first before bowing your head for the sun god.

Ace the postures

As you get familiar with basic sitting, standing asanas like mountain, lotus, cat pose, etc, your body will slowly open up making you ready for the more flexible postures like downward dog, eagle and pigeon pose. Your hamstrings, waist, arms get enough massage and toned effect. Your balance improves a great deal allows you to try other pregnancy-friendly asanas and postures.

Note: Pay attention to the balance and seek support if needed. Use props like yoga blocks, cushions, and belts that give you additional support especially in twisty asanas.

Relax now

A good ten to fifteen minutes of relaxation is advisable after each yoga session. It helps relax tired muscles, joints and basically your overall being. You will be encouraged to relax pay close attention to your own breathing and emotions. While relaxing on the yoga mat, one can even add a mantra and mudra (hand postures) which adds to the calmness and serenity.  

So manyyoga styles, which one’s for you?

Iyengar or Bhakti yoga?

You choose…

Cliched but every day a new style gets added to the yoga wagon. Now, for pregnant mamas, basic Hatha and restorative yoga are advisable which can be performed by even a novice who has never seen or heard it before.

Note: Give all the details to your yoga instructor beforehand (pregnancy stage, side effects, physical ailments if any), so that they will advise you on the type of yoga suitable for you. Advanced yoga style like ashtanga, vinyasa, Bikram (hot) yoga, etc are advisable for those who have embraced yoga for years before. Not suitable for newbies.

Safety first over postures and chakras

Yes, yoga can heal, encourage and uplift you during pregnancy but it is very essential to follow some of these safety guidelines:

  • If you suffer from heart disease or other chronic illness, then it is better to take guidance from the yoga instructor about which asanas or postures are suitable for you or the ones to be avoided.

  • Those, who are at increased risk of preterm labor, should avoid the prenatal yoga for fetus safety.

  • Avoid postures that can aggravate pressure on your abdomen. Make sure you are not lying on your belly or back when doing deep forward or backward bend. Keep the twists restricted towards the upper back, shoulders and rib cage.

  • Go easy on the yoga timings. Basic 30 minutes of a yoga session for 5 days a week is what experts normally recommend. You can modify the timings (even shorter) and days (less frequent) which will still help you to remain fit and prepare for the baby birthing process.

  • Always practice prenatal yoga in an airy room to avoid dullness and overheating issues. Keep yourself hydrated with water and plenty of fluids.

  • Learn to relax and slow down. If you feel you are getting familiar with the daily session and ready to move on to the secondary level, stop right there. Don’t overdo it and try the advanced ones unless the experts give it a thumbs up. 

  • Pay attention to the red flags. If you experience any pain, contractions, vaginal bleeding, etc, stop right there and immediately rush to the hospital or contact your healthcare provider.

Mammas, take a gentle breath. You are fine. Baby is fine. It’s going to be all right!

Namaste,

Anna


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