Yoga and Pregnancy: What can you do?

Yoga students who have recently found out they are pregnant may still practice this form of exercise, contrary to myths that it will harm the baby to work out. In fact, exercise does just the opposite-when done correctly, it creates a healthy environment for your baby. Therefore, you can begin yoga for the first time if you are pregnant as well. There are certain poses to avoid and things to consider, so carefully learn about prenatal yoga before you begin or continue practicing this form of exercise. Your pediatrician may be able to direct you to yoga classes specifically for women who are expecting. Be sure that whatever you are doing is safe for you and the baby.

Yoga is beneficial because it is a mental exercise as well as a physical one. Those who practice yoga can easily relax and control their breathing. This will help you during labor, especially if you are opting to give birth without the use of drugs. It can also help you stay calm in the later stages of pregnancy, when many soon-to-be mothers become easily frustrated. 

There are, however, some rules you should know if you are practicing yoga while you are pregnant. First, stay hydrated, stopping often for water breaks. If you get too overheated, your core body temperature rises even more, which can harm the baby. For this reason, “hot” yoga is dangerous and should be avoided while you are pregnant. Also take in extra calories-remember you are eating for two, and exercise takes away calories from both you and your baby.

There are certain poses you should avoid, as they are not safe for your baby. Lying flat on your back, for example, can cut of blood flow to your brain and to the uterus, making you dizzy and causing developmental problems for your baby. After the first trimester, this is not safe. Also skip positions that are inverted, or those which require great amounts of balance. Remember that your stomach is growing every day, so you will never be able to fully get used to your new shape and stay balanced. Falling can hurt you and your baby. If the position includes major twisting or stretching in the abdominal region, they may also not be best for you and your baby. Finally, avoid transitions in which you must stand quickly from a laying or sitting position, since this can be uncomfortable and cause you to be dizzy, as well as restrict blood flow to your uterus. 

A number of positions, however, can be very helpful. Most pregnant women, even if they do not practice yoga, like to stretch using a squatting pose, for example. A yoga instructor can recommend other positions that will make labor less strenuous as well. Speak with your doctor, as always, before beginning a new exercise routine, but consider yoga to help you and your baby stay healthy. 

Photo by Kona Yoga (cc)

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