Pregnancy Yoga Exercise and Benefits
Hillside Beach Club is the perfect place to enjoy some time during pregnancy and make the most of some down time before your new arrival. Yoga during pregnancy can offer a really special practice to connect the mother to her unborn child, as well as prepare her for labour. Of course, during this incredible period of creating new life, a mother goes through a huge amount of change in both the physical and emotional bodies, and so a regular practice of yoga can help to keep her grounded and connected to her sense of self as her role begins to change. On a physical level, yoga during pregnancy can also offer relief for many of the common ailments experienced during pregnancy.
Do’s and Don’ts of Prenatal Yoga
There are many, many different guidelines when it comes to practicing yoga during pregnancy. The key thing to remember is that, just as every individual is different, every pregnancy is different too, so always seek advice from a medical professional who knows your pregnancy before embarking on anything new.
DON’T JUMP INTO NEW THINGS
The first 12 weeks are a very sensitive time during pregnancy, so it is generally advised not to dive into anything new during this time. However, those with a regular practice may choose to continue that during this time, making appropriate modifications. This particularly applies to the physical side of the practice. Breath practices are welcome to be introduced
During pregnancy, the heart works up to 50% harder in response to a significant increase in blood volume. As a result, body temperature can rise and blood pressure can fall. In addition to this, later in pregnancy the breathing rate at rest increases as the shift in the internal organs means the diaphragm can’t move up and down so easily. Therefore it becomes more important to take regular rest during the practice to prevent fainting, lightheadedness and breathlessness.
DON’T OVER STRETCH
During Pregnancy, the levels of the hormone relaxin increase in the body. This means that there is greater risk of overstretching and causing injury in the body. The curves of the spine alter too and as a result of the changing weight and position of the baby, the lower back can become under pressure. So there is a a lot of benefit of strengthening parts of the body as well as gentle stretching to create space.
AVOID CLOSED TWISTS
One of the key guidelines in a physical practice is to make space for your baby. When twisting, you want to avoid twisting across the bump and instead opt for an open twist.
ADAPT PRACTICES FOR THE PELVIC FLOOR
Another place to find balance is with the pelvic floor. While strengthening is important, the pelvic floor also needs to release in order to support birthing the child. In a traditional practice of yoga, practitioners are encouraged to engage mulabandha (pelvic floor) throughout the practice. While some recommendations suggest continuing this practice, I have been trained to understand that this has the potential to interfere with second stage labour and, therefore, needs to be adjusted during pregnancy.
There are many other guidelines that will support the practice of yoga during pregnancy. It is always best to seek individual guidance where possible.
Beneficial Asana Sequences & Transitions During Pregnancy
Transitional movements are incredibly important during pregnancy as they have daily real life relevance. Being able to safely and effectively get up and down from the floor, stand with ease, support the spine whilst seated and rest well are all really important and can be taken into your daily life.
When moving from lying to sitting, roll to the side first if not already there and then use the upper body to avoid straining the abdomen.
From seated, you can then walk the the hands around to come onto all fours.
From all fours to standing, keep the knees and feet hip width apart minimum. Take the weight into the hands, and walk them back towards the knees, then lift both kns simultaneously to shift the weight into the heels. Always stand slowly and keep the knees bent on the way up.
These transitions can then be used as we begin to connect them together to create sequences such as a sun salutation.
Begin standing at the back of your mat. Then bend your knees and walk your hands down your legs until the hands come to the ground. Continue walking the hands forward, then lower the knees together to the ground to arrive on all fours. You can take a cat cow of the spine here, being mindful in thee cow pose to lift the chest but without overarching the lower back. Then walk the hands back to the knees, shift the weight to the heels and come all the way back up to standing.
Breath Exercises (Pranayama) During Pregnancy
The breath is a key part of yoga for connecting the body and mind and, particularly during yoga, it is important to practice pranayama (breath exercises) but there are some modifications needed in many of the practices. A key guideline is to always go with the flow, rather than trying to force or adjust the breath. Vigorous practices where the breath is held or pumped are not suitable during pregnancy.
Golden Thread Breath
This simple breath practice is a fantastic tool for supporting women during pregnancy and labour.
Start with a yawn to release the jaw, then close the eyes and set the teeth slightly apart, with a soft space between the lips.
Breathe in through the nose and out through gently parted lips, feeling the breath pass through the lips. Imagine the breath as a golden thread spinning out from between the lips.
Each time you breathe, let the exhale get a little bit longer without forcing. Just allow the out breath to get longer.