Becoming a mother is a very personal adventure. During this time many changes take place, both physically and emotionally that if acknowledged and taken care in a suitable manner, could contribute to a healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga can be a great and safe practice to not only work the body in an essential way for moms-to-be, but also provides an excellent preparation, through awareness and relaxation techniques, for the breath and mind to support delivery.
During pregnancy the body experiences an accelerated pace of change and for this reason the yoga postures are modified in the most appropriate way to provide strength, support and relief to ease the process of supporting a growing belly.
Special attention is given to tone the physical body, especially the pelvic floor, hips, lumbar spine and abdominal core muscles, in preparation for the birthing process.
A properly toned muscle has the right balance between length and strength – it is neither too lax nor too tight. Building and maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy, with yoga poses like lunges and gentle backbends, can help minimize the aches and pains of those nine months, and are key in bringing your body back to a toned condition after delivery.
Prenatal yoga can soothe various symptoms such as insomnia, stress, fatigue, nausea, breath shortness, carpal tunnel syndrome.
But, the most important advantage of choosing prenatal yoga is the holistic care provided to the mother-to-be and her growing fetus. Goal of each class is for the pregnant woman to feel strong, centered and glorious, but also empowered, feeling connected with her baby. She learns breathing and meditation techniques that can be used in everyday life to calm her busy mind and as a means to manage labor pain.
Also, another important benefit of prenatal yoga is joining a community with other expectant mothers. The class becomes a pregnancy support group of sorts, where women connect with other women who are making the same choices and lifestyle changes. Sharing the pregnancy journey with new friends can help ease anxiety about impending motherhood and at the same time easing back pain and calming the body.
Α typical prenatal group yoga class lasts at least 75 minutes and involves:
- 5’ concentration to the self in order to become aware of the body and breath connection
- 40’ flow movement and/ or more static poses using props whenever needed (belts, chairs, blocks, wall)
- 15’ pelvic floor exercises and pranayama (breathing techniques)
- 15’ time for meditation and then deep relaxation using equipment (bolsters and blankets)
It is very important that the classes are being taught by an experienced yoga teacher certified in perinatal yoga.
Finally, be sure to inform your physician about taking prenatal yoga classes and have his/ her confirmation to do so.
By Angeliki Lalagianni, Perinatal Yoga Teacher
Infant Developmental Movement Educator