5 ways prenatal yoga benefits your physical and mental health
Practising yoga during pregnancy helps to support you throughout each trimester right through to labour, here's how.
Now that you're eating and breathing for two it can be hard to know how to exercise safely during pregnancy. Although exercising isn't harmful for your baby, you may feel more comfortable practising low-intensity workouts such as yoga. For many, it's a tool for switching off the mind and is also a gentle yet strengthening exercise that will not put the body under any additional strain.
Yoga is recognised as an alternative birth preparation method, and a recent initiative by the NHS is offering mum’s to-be yoga classes to help tackle any fears they may have around labour, and to reduce the number ofC-sections occuring in the UK.
In a recent survey conducted by Pommama, London’s first and only private pregnancy service, a group of women practising prenatal yoga were asked whether they found it beneficial enough to continue practising post-pregnancy. The results revealed that 42% of the interviewees had never practised yoga before, a whopping 75% of them said yes when asked if they would carry it on post-pregnancy.
Mums-to-be with existing yoga practice (58%) felt confident in continuing during their pregnancy, recognising both the physical and mental benefits of staying connected to the body, mind and spirit.
With the popularity of prenatal yoga on the rise, Pommama shares the benefits of practising the exercise and how it will help support you throughout your pregnancy.
Toning and strenghtening your pelvic floor muscles
Various yoga poses such as lunges, stretches or easy backbends amongst others help toning and strengthening muscles to make the nine months of pregnancy healthier and happier. Building up as well as maintaining the muscle tone is crucial not only for experiencing a relatively comfortable pregnancy but also to help bringing the body back to a toned state after delivery.
The pelvic floor muscles help to support the vital reproductive and digestive organs, as well as the baby during pregnancy. In yoga you are encouraged to lift the pelvic floor to strengthen the muscles to help compensate for the increased weight load. Regular yoga sessions from the 2nd trimester onwards can help to strengthen your pelvic floor and contribute to a speedier recovery post labour
Prenatal yoga helps you to bond with your unborn baby
Mindfulness and meditation are both aspects of yoga, bringing ourselves into the present moment and enjoying the full connection with the physical body whilst calming the mind. Deep relaxation is a wonderful way to bond with baby and find a little bubble of peace together.
It helps you to improve your posture
As the baby grows over the course of 9 months the body’s centre of gravity changes which can lead to poor posture. The increased weight in the belly causes the abdominal muscles to become weaker leading to strain on the lower back. Yoga is a great way to help alleviate this pressure on the lower back and specific yoga postures targeting the upper leg muscles and lower back can also help release tension.
It also helps reduces stress and anxiety
Breathing is something we do unconsciously but can be one of our most powerful allies helping us to stay calm and focused especially during labour. Yoga breath work increases the depth of our breath encouraging deep relaxation and helping us to ‘still the mind’.
And prepares you for labour and delivery
As mammals, our bodies are capable of following its instincts to give birth. However, fear, tension and stress cause our body to tighten up, making the process of childbirth painful and strenuous. Prenatal yoga classes train expecting mothers to keep their body calm through yogic methods. It gives a deep and calm breathing routine that can be followed, helping the body to relax and deliver more easily.
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