Maternity yoga, or yoga done during the course of your pregnancy, is a safe way to exercise and can actually help prepare the body for childbirth. If you’re looking for a way to stay fit or to increase your fitness level safely during pregnancy, read on for some great reasons to give maternity yoga a try.
1) It gives you a chance to focus on you.
As your pregancy progresses, you will naturally find yourself thinking more and more about the life inside you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with planning, preparing or even just worrying about all the things that could possibly go wrong. The breathing and centering techniques yoga teaches will focus you back on what your body is feeling and what it needs from you to be relaxed and ready to take on the challenges of parenthood confidently.
2) It helps the body prepare physically for childbirth – and beyond.
Regular practice of yoga poses over the months leading up to childbirth will strengthen many of the muscles that will be needed when the time comes to give birth, as well as increase stamina that may be needed for the labor process. That doesn’t mean you won’t have the strength to give birth without taking yoga classes, but yoga may make the whole process less of a strain on the body, and you may bounce back quicker afterward and have more energy to make it through sleep interruptions and carrying baby and equipment around everywhere you go.
3) It improves circulation and releases tension in the body.
The poses involved in yoga increase circulation within the joints as the muscles are moved and stretched. Enhanced circulation decreases swelling in the body and improves immune system function, all of which helps with the strain put on the body during pregnancy. Additionally, the poses release tension that can cause discomfort in the lower back, legs, and neck so that you can be more comfortable as the pregancy progresses.
4) It improves posture.
Pregnancy can bring challenges even to those with the best posture, and posture isn’t likely to improve after childbirth while constantly lifting a newborn, not to mention carrying a newborn around in a carseat or sling. Jyothi Larson, author of Yoga Mom, Buddha Baby, says that maternity yoga will help with awareness of good posture, which will help during and after the pregnancy.
5) It provides a community of support.
Joining a maternity yoga class will help you get to know other moms-to-be who also want to be fit and healthy during their pregnancies. Developing friendships with other expecting moms can give you a place to vent, get information, and just feel understood by others in your situation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Maternity yoga should not be practiced without a doctor’s okay. Certain poses such as those lying on the back for extended periods and certain types of yoga like “hot yoga” (Bikram yoga) are not recommended during pregnancy. Gentle poses are best, with support from yoga straps or blocks during the second and third trimesters. Always follow your doctor’s advice and practice with a yoga teacher who is experienced in maternity yoga.
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