Prenatal yoga is being adopted by an increasingly large number of people as a healthy way of taking care of themselves through pregnancy. This ensures the healthy growth and development of the fetus and the strength of the mother. If your muscles are kept strong through your term, the muscles will have strength and energy to return to normal quickly after child birth. If you don't work out, your muscles get weaker and weaker and make it harder and harder to get your body back.
Prenatal yoga also helps to speed up labor by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor, calm aches and pains associated with pregnancy and reduce swelling. Keeping your core strong during pregnancy counteracts the pull of the baby on your body, which maintains good posture.
In addition, yogic breathing which deeply engages the diaphragm helps you relax more. All in all, if you are expecting, it's a great thing to do. This site will clue you in to some of the many benefits associated with a regular prenatal yoga practice and also show you the best poses to do during your term
The Benefits Of Prenatal Yoga
Yoga can be an ideal way to stay in shape during pregnancy and a great way to take care of yourself and your growing little one. Here are just a few of the many reasons why:
To start, prenatal yoga exercises often focus on opening the hips and stretching the lower back. These exercises gently work on the reproductive organs and pelvis to ensure a smooth pregnancy and a relatively easy childbirth. At the subtle level, these ensure optimum supply of blood and nutrients to the developing fetus. Through yoga, you will remain limber, your muscles will stay toned, your balance and circulation will improve and there will be very little impact on your joints.
Yoga is also beneficial because it helps you learn powerful breathing techniques. This will come in handy during the physical demands of labor and childbirth and even motherhood. The ujjayi pranayama is one of the most common forms of yogic breath and one of the first you learn in a typical yoga class. This breath requires you to fully take in air through the nose, filling the lungs while you gently constrict the vocal chords at the back of the throat. Each exhale is deep and full until the stomach compresses.
When you're in pain or afraid as is likely to happen during childbirth, your body produces adrenalin and may decrease the production of oxytocin, a hormone that makes labor progress. Learning how to do ujjayi breathing primes you for labor and childbirth by training you to stay calm. A regular yoga practice will help you fight the urge to tighten up when you feel pain, and show you how to relax instead.
Another benefit of yoga during pregnancy is meditation. Meditation will help you enhance concentration and inner focus as well as relax. As a therapeutic tool can be used to help you resolve any fears or conflicts which are common during pregnancy. Meditation brings awareness of oneself and a deeper sense of connection to your unborn child.
First, Second And Third Trimester Prenatal Yoga Tips
As with all forms of exercise, be sure to check with your doctor or midwife to be sure you do not have any special needs or health restrictions during your pregnancy that would limit your participation in a prenatal yoga class.
During this stage, you really don't have any restrictions and can move through a full range of motion, doing all of the standard poses. If you are taking a regular yoga class and not specifically a prenatal one, be sure to inform your instructor that you are expecting. During class be sure to drink a lot of water before during and after exercise to keep your body hydrated. Breath deeply as you stretch. If you are an advanced practitioner, accept and recognize that your body is going through some changes and your regular routine may feel different and may require modifications as time goes on. As will all yoga practice, listen to your body and trust what it tells you. If you do feel pain or discomfort, tell your instructor and ask for modifications.
You may notice your joints begin to loosen during your second trimester so proceed through poses with caution. Also your sense of balance may change as you become larger. Take your time getting into and out of each pose to avoid injury. At this stage, it is best to avoid lying flat on your back in order to keep blood flowing properly to the uterus. Postures that are usually performed on the back can usually be modified to be done on hands and knees or from lying on your side.
As you get larger and probably feel less graceful, you may need to use the support of a chair or a wall during certain postures. A chair or the wall can provide stability during standing poses and keep you from losing your balance and risking injury to yourself and your baby. Props such as straps, blocks and bolsters can also help you move through different poses with greater stability and ease. Don't hold poses for a long time, keep moving and keep the blood circulating. Above all, keep breathing!
For an excellent prenatal DVD or download, visit:
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Best Prenatal Yoga Poses For Pregnancy
The general rules for prenatal yoga are not to hold the postures for too long, not to overheat and-most importantly-to listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, don't do it. This is a time for intuition, listening and honoring yourself and the little life growing within you.
Here are a few recommended asanas or poses to do during your pregnancy. The poses follow a simple flow that you can do each morning or evening to help empower yourself for labor, giving birth and mothering. With this gentle pactice you will find relief for sore muscles and back pain. If you desire a longer and fuller practice, check out a prenatal yoga DVD (I recommend the Lotus Petal Yoga prenatal DVD or download) or visit a prenatal yoga class in your area. This is also a great way to meet other future mothers and to develop some new friendships. If starting yoga for the first time, you may want to check with your doctor or midwife to see when it is ideal to start.
Cobbler's or Butterfly pose (baddha konasana): This sitting pose helps open the pelvis. Gently pull the flesh away from your sit bones and evenly ground them into the mat or blanket. If your knees feel any discomfort, place rolled towels or blankets underneath them. Sit up straight and bring the soles of the feet to touch. Gently press the knees down and away from each other. Stay in this pose for a few breaths and then from this position take a nice shoulder and side stretch by reaching the right arm to the sky and leaning over to the left. Repeat on the other side.
Cat-Cow: This position helps relieve back pain, a common problem during pregnancy. Come to a neutral table top position stacking hips over knees and shoulders over wrists. Keep knees hip distance apart and arms straight with the eyes of the elbows rolled forward. Gently tilt the pelvis up as you roll the head, neck and shoulders back. On an exhale curl the tailbone under rounding the back, tucking chin to chest. Follow the breath for a few cycles through these poses.
Sunbird (Chakravakasana) : from table top, reach the right arm out and the left leg out. Keep the hips square to the mat and flex the left toes. Find energy from toe tip to finger tip as you reach to opposite ends of the room. On an exhale, curl the elbow in and draw the knee in to meet it. Inhale lengthen. Repeat for a few breaths on each side.
Squatting (Malasana): To relax and open the pelvis as well as strengthen the upper legs, come to a squatting pose. Come to a wall for support. Stand with feet wider than your hips. Bring your feet parallel or turn them slightly out if it is more comfortable. Bend your knees and come to a squat, bringing hands together at heart. Open through the chest as you gently press your knees wider. If you are past 34 weeks and your baby is in the breech position, only squat halfway. If you need to, use props such as yoga blocks or a few stacked books on which to rest your bottom. Focus on relaxing and letting your breath drop deeply into your belly.
Horse or standing squat: Stand with feet 4 to 5 feet apart. Turn feet out such that they point to the edges of your mat. Sink low into the hips making sure the knee tracks over the ankles. Bring your hands to heart center. After a few breaths bring the hands to the thighs and lean into the right shoulder, gentlygazing left. Repeat on the left side.
Warrior II (virabhadrasana II ): Bring the legs about a legs length apart. Align the front heel with the arch of the back foot. Bend the front leg to a depth of 90 degrees if you can tracking the knee over the ankle. Press firmly through the outside edge of the back foot. Bring both arms up reaching to opposite sides of the room. Gaze softly over the front foot. As you get larger and heavier, you may need the use of a chair for support under the pelvis. Repeat this pose on the other side.
Extended Side Angle:( Parsvakonasana): Come back into warrior II pose and tilt the torso such that the front arm rests on the front knee, bent at the elbow. Keep very little weight in this front arm and rotate the ribs towards the sky. The back arm reaches towards the sky or overhead towards the front of the room. Repeat this pose on the other side.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana): Stand with feet hip-width apart. Starting on the left, root through all four conrers of the left foot spreading the toes. Bend your right knee and place heel of foot on your inner left thigh. Resist a little with your inner thigh to create stability and lift in the spine. Reach arms overhead.Find one point to focus on on the floor a few feet in front of you. If it's challenging for you to balance, use the wall or a chair for support. Hold for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
Dancer (Natarajasana ): You may wish to use a chair or the wall for support doing this pose Inhale both arms overhead and bring the right elbow to the waist palm face up. Reach around and grasp the right foot from behind taking care not to flip your palm. Draw the knees together to touch and reach up out of the waist. Kick into the hand. As you kick, the body will naturally come forward. Keep hips square to the mat. Hold for a few breaths, release, take a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
Wide Angle Seated Pose (Upavistha Konasana): Sit on a blanket or two, on your mat or against the wall. Place your hands directly behind you and lift up through the side body. Allow spine to elongate. Breathe and visualize creating more space for the baby in your womb. Hold this restorative pose for one to three minutes.
Corpse pose (Savasana): This is a good resting pose to end your preactice. From the fourth month on, it is recommended to lie on your side using pillows or blankets for support. Place one pillow or blanket between knees and one under head. You can also have one in front to support your arms. Focus your attention on your breath, breathing into your belly and sending your baby unconditional love. Rest here and remain in this pose as long as you like. When you come out, use arms for support and comed to a comfortable seated position, hands at heart center. Find gratitude for your practice and your unborn baby.
Get Some Props To Make Your Yoga Practice Easier
Yoga Positions To Avoid During Pregnancy
Positions that should be avoided during pregnancy depend on what stage of pregnancy you are in.
During the fifth month of pregnancy, the uterus gets quite heavy as it is rapidly growing. Lying on your back during this stage can put pressure on the inferior vena cava, the vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart, which can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. It may also cause some compression to the blood vessels which would decrease oxygen flow to the baby as it would limit the blood flowing into the uterus. Therefore, positions which involve lying on your back for more than 10 minutes are not generally advised.
Also during the fifth month (or sometimes sooner), it may become uncomfortable to lie on your stomach. Postures and exercises that involve lying on the stomach or the back should therefore be avoided at this stage as well.
Skip any position that stretches the abdominal muscles too much such as deep forward and back bends and twists. In addition, skip inversion postures unless you have a regular practice of doing them. If you have a regular practice, you may do what is comfortable for your body and many women continue to perform inversions well into their second trimester. During the third trimester it is best to stop inversions all together as the baby is getting ready to move into the birthing position and you don't want to disrupt that.
It is unadvisable to raise your core body temperature during pregnancy. For this reason, it is best to avoid any of the hot yoga styles such as Bikram yoga where the room is heated to over 100 degrees. If you have a regular practice of doing a hot style of yoga however, and your body is used to the conditions, it is ok to continue with the practice. You are the best judge of how you are feeling. Listen to your body and allow it to guide you through your practice at each stage. I personally did Bikram hot yoga through the 8th month of my pregnancy and found it to be a wonderful experience. I had been practicing regularly for 3 years prior to my pregnancy so I felt comfortable with the conditions.
Due to pregnancy hormones such as relaxin being released into the body, it is easier during pregnancy to tear or strain muscles. Connective tissues are loosening up as the uterus expands and bones and ligaments make room for your growing baby and to prepare for birth. Modify postures as you feel is necessary throughout each stage. And remember, always drink lots of water!
Recommended Books on Yoga and Pregnancy
A safe and gently guide to yoga stretches you can do during your pregnancy and the benefits of each.
This book provides an easy-to-follow guide to the basic yoga poses, with careful attention to their appropriateness for pregnancy. The photographs, along with concise description, are elegant in their simplicity. It will be a welcomed companion for quiet self-expression.
Once you have your baby, this book provides an excellent way to bond and improve his or her health, This book contains over seventy yoga postures and thirty-five series for you to enjoy with your growing baby as well as many rhymes and songs.
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