You can google it, ask about it, give it a chance. No matter where you go, you will hear about the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Maybe somebody told you about their endless bliss with their leg behind their head. Or maybe you heard about those nice 100 degree studios. Either way it all comes back to why? Why yoga?
And for this specific blog post, why yoga for pre and post pregnancy?
Yoga, no matter the style increases strength and flexibility, which can help, decrease or eliminate prenatal concerns, i.e. back pain, fatigue, and nausea. A regular practice will also reduce swelling, inflammation, and promote circulation. The physical postures open the hips, supports the spine and tones pelvic floor muscles – this is your training plan for labor. You may have heard of what you can and cannot due, so here are quick avoid tips when practicing at home or in a studio.
Avoid (Dig Pregnancy, Birth and Baby by Sue Elkind):
– Jumping in and out of poses
– Low back twists (When practicing twists in a non prenatal class, twist in the opposite direction – don’t constrict the belly)
– Closing the belly
– Deep lunges
– Abdominal crunches
– Overstretching (Be cautious of backbends)
– Arm balances
– Forward bends (don’t compress the belly)
– Lying flat on your back (after the 4th month)
Prenatal Yoga Quick Reference Guide available in Dig Pregnancy, Birth and Baby by Sue Elkind page 50.
Yoga in Labor
For all the yogis out there, these poses may sound familiar. If not, a quick Google search or dialogue with your yoga teacher can provide wonderful visuals.
– Tadasana (Mountain Pose – let gravity move that baby down)
– Balasasana (Child Pose – ask your partner for a back massage)
– Squatting (Partner squatting involves having your partner stand behind their forearms under your arms pits, allowing you to bend your knees during contractions)
– Cat-Cow Pose/Pelvic rocking (This is less releases pressure on the tailbone)
Yoga is the practice of befriending and experiencing your body. No matter the outcome of your labor/birth – vaginal or cesarean, you experienced your body in a powerful manner.
Let’s talk kegels – you know you just did one and keep them going, as this is strengthening your pelvic floor – which has been stretched from the weight of the baby and uterus. Kegels bring more blood flow to the pelvic and potentially heal tears. Another healing tip is breath work for the transverse abdominals. You’ll focus on drawing the belly backwards towards your spine on the exhale.
The best tip is to be kind to yourself. Your practice will regain your physical strength, promote relaxation, and rejuvenate the mind. If you’re feeling alone, check out a postnatal class or mommy and me option.
But I’m not good at yoga
If you get anything out of this post, please write on your yoga mat…GOOD IS A RELATIVE TERM! At the start of your yoga practice set an intention; how do I feel right now? Or what do I want out of my yoga practice today? Yoga shifts your attitude. Keeping your intention strong is an attitude, its saying yes to you, that’s right, good enough, YOU! And that is way more powerful than having your leg behind your head.
You’ve read my perspective, so now what?
Here are some resources for yoga classes and books. Another resource is your local yoga studio – ask about potential pre and/or postnatal classes and inquire if any teachers have training in these areas. If not, review the avoid section prior to taking an all levels class and always inform the teacher that you are pregnant.
Dig Pregnancy, Birth and Baby by Sue Elkind
The Female Pelvis: Anatomy and Exercises by Blandine Calais-Germain
Preparing for Birth with Yoga by Janet Balaskas
Prenatal Yoga Video – Sue Elkind/Crunch Yoga Mama – amazon.com
YogaGlo – $18 a month for all access yoga and meditation classes
It is advisable for all pregnant women to consult with their physician before undertaking any exercise program. This article is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Elyse Hibbs is a Philly based social worker, yoga teacher, and postpartum doula. She completed her yoga 200-hour certification with Anjali Power Yoga and has a masters in social work (specialized in trauma treatment) from Temple University. She is currently working towards certification in postpartum support with Birth Arts International. Elyse is acting on a self-pledge to share yoga beyond the studio. Elyse teachers/has taught at elementary schools, homeless shelters, treatment programs, her home and others, office settings, etc. Her inspirations encourage letting go of preconceived notions and shift to a more positive.
All student article posts are the expressions of the student who wrote them. We do not take responsibility for the content, these are done as part of the educational experience and we try to encourage students to use their voice and learn to connect with clients through blogging and social media.
To learn more about our educational programs please visit www.birtharts.com