1. Breathing: Breathing, or ‘pranayama’ as it is called in yoga is an integral part of any yoga class. Deep controlled breathing helps to reduce anxiety and stress, flood sthe body with oxygen (which is great for your baby), and helps to prepare your body for the process of labour and the breathing associated with it. Regular pranayama during pregnancy helps to increase your lung capacity and learn greater control of your breath - an effective tool for managing the discomfort and pain associated with the birthing process. Slow deep breathing also helps to calm the body and mind, relieving anxiety and instilling a greater sense of peace.
2. The Pelvic Floor: We’re sure you’ve been told about these magical muscles and that you need to exercise them regularly before the birth. This hammock of muscles forms a bowl attached to the pelvis which supports your vital reproductive and digestive organs, supports the baby during pregnancy and has a vital role in sexual intercourse. During pregnancy these muscles support a much larger load than normal, and both pregnancy and birth can weaken the pelvic floor leading to a host of unpleasant symptoms long term. In regular yoga as well as prenatal yoga the pelvic floor is frequently engaged and lifted in order to strengthen and provide lightness and balance to the body. Prenatal yoga provides a setting in which you are consciously encouraged to strengthen these muscles, and can be a great starting point for developing a regular home practice of pelvic floor exercise.
3. Posture: As your baby grows throughout each trimester, your growing belly leads to a change in your regular centre of gravity. With the diminished strength of your abdominal muscles throughout pregnancy coupled with the extra weight being carried on the front of your body, lower back pain can be a particularly large issue - especially in the third trimester. Prenatal yoga can help to gently keep some strength in these muscles, stretch out and provide space in the lower back and lengthen the hamstrings in order to minimise this pain as much as possible.
4. Feet: As your centre of gravity shifts throughout your pregnancy, the way you stand and the pressure on your feet and ankles (which contain 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles) can lead to excess pressure and foot pain. Over pronation and oedema are two of the most common complaints during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga helps to stretch out these joints and muscles, provides you with greater knowledge regarding standing and walking mindfully for your changing body, and also gives you plenty of opportunities to elevate your legs - leading to a decrease in swelling.
5. Hips: Prenatal yoga can help bring flexibility and comfort to the groups of muscles and bone structures in the front and back of the hips. Hormones released during pregnancy soften and relax joints and cartilage between bones in your pelvis to prepare it for child birth, while yoga can work on stretching out through the muscles with important guidance to prevent overstretching given these hormonal changes.
Other Prenatal Yoga Benefits
Research suggests practicing yoga while pregnant can also improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth. Yoga may also decrease nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath, and decrease the risk of preterm labour, pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction — a condition that slows your baby's growth.
For more information on the latest dates for Stretch Yoga Brisbane’s Prenatal Courses check out our Yoga Courses Page and our Prenatal Yoga 6 Week Course Page.
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