Prenatal Yoga

The Lowdown on Prenatal Yoga

Are you weighing the pros and cons of various pregnancy workouts? If you are, think about yoga, which can be a good way to stay fit and limber, while also helping to manage stress. Whether you’re already an active yogi, or considering taking up the challenge for the first time, you may find that prenatal yoga is relaxing and enjoyable, not to mention the fact that it can also help prepare your mind and body for labor and delivery.

What’s So Great About Yoga for Pregnancy?

For starters, yoga helps tone your muscles, and some positions may help relieve back pain. Most positions suitable for pregnant women have a low impact on joints, making yoga a safer and more comfortable choice than other, more demanding types of exercise.

Yoga also focuses on breathing techniques and meditation, strategies that can prepare you for labor by helping you manage stress and pain. And, although you can certainly practice in the comfort of your living room, if you choose to get out and join a pregnancy yoga class, you’ll have the added benefits of meeting other moms-to-be, swapping experiences, and building friendships.

Prenatal Yoga for Every Trimester

As with other forms of exercise, yoga for pregnant women needs to be tailored a bit for each trimester.

First trimester

Once you know your due date, the next step is to check with your healthcare provider before beginning or continuing to practice yoga during pregnancy. Next, you’ll want to find an instructor with prenatal yoga experience, or at least inform your current instructor of your pregnancy. Although there generally aren’t too many restrictions at this stage, it’s probably best to slow down a bit and not push yourself too hard.

Second trimester

Be aware of your changing body and shifting sense of balance. Move more slowly, and don’t hold poses for longer than they are comfortable. You’ll want to start using a wedge or pillow to raise your upper body when lying down.

Third trimester

Now is the time to really slow down and take precautions. It’s a good idea to do standing poses against a wall, or use a chair to steady yourself. You can also use blocks or straps for stability. Keep moving slowly, and don’t hold poses very long.

A Few Dos and Don’ts to Remember

Do

  • Stay hydrated — drink plenty of water before, during, and after yoga.
  • Listen to your body. If anything is uncomfortable, stop!
  • Take breaks.
  • Wear loose-fitting layers.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before engaging in any exercise.

Don’t

  • Lie flat on your back after the first trimester.
  • Attempt headstands, shoulder stands, or any inverted pose.
  • Overstretch your abdominal muscles.
  • Do hot or Bikram yoga.

Yoga’s not the only way to stay fit during pregnancy. Find out about other forms of pregnancy exercise, including running and Kegels.

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