Yoga & Pregnancy
"It's not very often, and shortly lived, that we are blessed with having more than one heart."
- Author Unknown
Hmmm … there must be something in the water. Have you looked around Harmony Yoga recently? Seems to me like there are an unusually high number of pregnancies. In fact, three of our teachers are expecting early this summer! I can think of no other time in a woman’s life when she is more aware of her body than when pregnant. During pregnancy your body is changing as you grow a human life. And since yoga is at least in part about being in tune with yourself (physically, mentally, spiritually), the two naturally go hand in hand.
Studies have shown that yoga during pregnancy reduces stress and anxiety as well as improves sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga increases strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth. For many women, yoga assists in reducing lower back pain and nausea commonly associated with pregnancy. Pregnant women are encouraged to check with their doctor before starting a yoga practice. When practicing, be gentle and kind to yourself, as carrying a child is both a very natural human condition, yet simultaneous very delicate. There are a few things that pregnant yogis should remember: You don’t want to lose your breath, overheat, or over strain yourself when practicing yoga; and please drink a lot of water – enough for two!
What style of yoga is best for you if you are pregnant? Well, it depends. If you had a consistent and strong Vinyasa Yoga practice before pregnancy, generally the medical community agrees that it is okay to continue. If you are just starting a yoga practice or you are in your second or third trimester, many medical professionals advise Prenatal Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Hatha Yoga, and Restorative Yoga as they are less strenuous. The Mayo Clinic cautions pregnant women to avoid Hot Yoga as it may cause hyperthermia.
Always tell your yoga instructor if you are preganant, and what trimester you are in. Your instructor can help you with modifications. Generally, pregnant women should bend forward from the hip maintaining the normal curves of the spine. Avoid lying on your belly or flat on your back in the second and third trimester. Absolutely no deep twists. Instead, modify by only slightly rotating the upper rib cage, upper back, and shoulders. Avoid compressing your belly and all inversions. And finally be mindful in balancing poses which can become increasing difficult as pregnancy progresses and your center of gravity shifts.
Finally, have you noticed that big wood statue to the right of the door as you exit Harmony Yoga? I am told that is a fertility god. If you are trying to get pregnant, perhaps give that statue a little rub on your way out. Be careful if you are not! To all our mothers and fathers to be, have an easy and safe pregnancy, and we look forward to meeting our new yogis very soon!