- Exercise & Fitness
Yoga during pregnancy: A quick overview
Yoga has a rich history and as a practice it has been developed over hundreds of years to become the art form that it is today.
There are a wide variety of differing yoga forms, from Hatha Yoga which focuses upon a union of the mind and body through to Tantra Yoga which presents a comparatively modern practice with a focus upon one’s true self.
Is yoga advisable during pregnancy?
Yoga is not only advisable throughout pregnancy, but is moreover actually recommended. Not only can yoga provide essential exercise to keep you fit and healthy, but it can also improve your subtly for a smooth labour process, as well as maintaining your mental health and reducing stress levels. With all of these benefits in mind it seems that yoga is indeed the perfect form of exercise from the very beginning of your pregnancy to the end.
Pregnancy Yoga: Getting Started
Debunking the myths behind yoga
Many mistake yoga as being a rather hippy dippy practice. They imagine it to involve lots of umming and ahhing and plenty of fantastically impossible looking moves. However far from being this new age practice that few are physically capable of, it can instead be a very relaxing form of exercise that combines simple yet beneficial moves.
What other forms of exercise have you found most beneficial during pregnancy?
The top five Yoga positions for pregnancy
1. Extended Side Angle Pose
This pose serves to boost energy levels and makes for one of the most simplistic yoga poses there is. To perform it just stand with your feet outstretched and lean over to one knee by bending your leading knee. Place your adjacent arm upon this leg as the other arm reaches up above your head and stretch to the side. Repeat this by gently rocking back and forth ten times over, and then switch sides.
2. Triangle Pose
The triangle pose is a great yoga move for releasing tension. To perform this just stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, keeping your legs straight stretch down to one side with your face pointing towards the sky. Keep your other arm pointed straight up. Switch from one side over to the opposite and repeat this ten times for each.
3. Sitting Side Stretch
This yoga move is great for when you feel like you can’t possibly grow any more, yet have another 12 weeks left to go; it helps by opening up your pelvis and your hips. For this position you should be sat upon the floor with one leg outstretched and the other folded inwards. Gently stretch over to the leg that’s outstretched and hold the pose for three seconds. Repeat this five times and then switch over to the other leg.
4. Cat Pose
The cat pose is perfect for those who may find themselves suffering from back ache (which will most likely be practically every pregnant woman at some stage throughout pregnancy!). For this you should rest on all fours and bend your back gently downwards. Follow this by arching your back, again gently, towards the sky. Repeat ten times over.
5. Child’s Pose
This little position is very often seen as a yoga favourite after a long and demanding exercise routine as it provides a nice relaxing position. You complete this move by starting on all fours; gently move backwards, facing the floor, until your arms and face are close to the floor. You will find that as your belly grows that you’ll need to move your knees further apart to make room. Repeat this exercise ten times over.
Yoga meditation: A brief overview
Meditation should be thought simply as a form of deep relaxation, with the ultimate aim of being mindful (where you’re conscious of your self, but have a calm state of mind where thoughts can come and go). Traditionally meditation requires that you focus upon your breathing as well as your body's posture and the soles of your feet (this latter point is to do with a focus upon being grounded in reality).
Guided Meditation for Beginners - Entering the Formless
Five tips for easy meditation
1. Choose a convenient time and an achievable length of time for your meditation
You should ideally aim to meditate each and every day, although this can be for but ten minutes if you’re struggling for time (ideally thirty minutes meditation will be most beneficial).
Those who practice yoga frequently often report that meditating at the beginning of the day is most beneficial, and acts to clear their mind for the tasks to be completed and faced throughout the day.
2. Choose and prepare your quiet place
A quiet place may just be an offset corner within your home, as long as it’s free from distractions (such as any outside or inside noises and interruptions) then it’ll be adequate for a quiet meditation area.
3. Are you sitting comfortably?
Another yoga myth that commonly does the rounds is that you must sit in the traditional yoga pose to mediate, with your legs crossed and your arms each placed upon each knee. In fact meditating simply requires a pose in which you’re comfortable, and this can be upon the floor, bed or with your back to a wall.
4. Avoid meditating after a meal
One time to avoid meditation is when you’ve just eaten. Following a large meal you may well find yourself falling asleep instead of merely meditating.
5. Control your breathing
Meditation needn't involve complex breathing exercises, although there is plenty of variorying advice out there. Instead you should simply concentrate upon deep and slow breathing.
Pregnancy exercises: Yoga moves for beginners
Pregnancy exercises: Yoga moves for the moderately experienced
Pregnancy exercises: Advanced Yoga moves
Pregnancy exercise tips beyond yoga
Going beyond yoga there are plenty of other pregnancy exercises that are beneficial for your health throughout pregnancy, with these being…
Stomach-strengthening exercises serve to address the back ache that may be caused by the hollow within your lower back that develops as your baby becomes bigger.
Begin with your body position in the box move (on all fours upon the floor); your knees should be placed underneath your hips with your hands placed directly underneath your shoulders. Make sure that your hands are faced forwards and that your stomach is tucked underneath you with a back that remains straight.
Draw your stomach inwards and raise your back upwards towards the sky in as far as possible; couple this with curling your trunk inwards and relax your neck and head into a forwards, dropping position.
Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly go back into the original position.
Undertake this for ten repetitions, although you should take care not to move your back any further, or go for longer, than you find than is comfortable.
Sit Ups are also (rather surprisingly) fine during the first trimester of pregnancy, thereafter however they should be firmly ruled out of your fitness routine however.
Pelvic tilt exercises
Stand against a wall, with your shoulders and bottom touching the wall, whilst your feet are slightly away.
Concentrate on maintaining your knee bend, being sure not to lock them.
Push your tummy backwards, so that your back then flattens against the wall.
Run through this ten times for as long as is comfortable.
Exercises to avoid during pregnancy
Those that require you lie flat on your back
Lying flat on your back should be avoided, particularly after you pass the 16 week stage of your pregnancy. This is due to there being a major blood vessel underneath your bump; if too much weight is put upon this vessel it can the cause you to pass out as blood circulation is restricted.
All contact sport
Avoid all forms of contact sport throughout pregnancy, including sports such as kickboxing, rugby, judo or squash.
Scuba diving can make for a surprising sport to avoid throughout pregnancy, however the processes involved with scuba diving can cause decompression sickness within the baby as well as gas bubbles within you and your baby’s bloodstream (known medically as gas embolism).
Exercises above 2,500meter above sea level
Exercise that takes place above 2,500 meters may be accompanied with altitude sickness.