One of the reasons yoga is so popular is because nearly everyone can practice it successfully. Regardless of your age, body type or physical condition, there's a style of yoga that can accommodate you. In addition, benefits are realized almost immediately and become more profound with regular practice.
Pregnant women are no exception. In fact, several of yoga's specific benefits are extremely helpful in conditioning mind and body for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Healthcare experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend prenatal yoga for its "multifaceted approach" that provides a well-rounded experience. Here are five more important benefits that yoga provides for expectant mothers.
- Yoga is all about honoring and strengthening the mind-body connection. When you have another growing body dependent on you, this factor becomes even more crucial. Shutting out external "chatter" and becoming attuned to your own needs creates a healthier environment for your baby. He or she is allowed to develop without being affected by mental or physical tension.
- A strong pelvic floor helps you carry your child more comfortably and can make labor and delivery go more smoothly. Yoga creates better muscle tone even in areas we're often not aware of. Many poses involve lifting the pelvic floor to add strength as well as provide a sense of lightness to the pose.
- Proper breathing is crucial during labor and delivery. It helps you to relax by giving your mind and body a point of focus. Getting a sufficient flow of oxygen also enables your system to work more efficiently. Breath work is one of the cornerstones of yoga through which you learn to achieve a stillness of mind. It also teaches you to breathe deeply all the way through your diaphragm, allowing more oxygen into your body.
- The general health benefits that yoga provides are shared by your unborn baby. A 2012 study published in Preventive Medicine followed pregnant women who practiced yoga for one hour three times a week. Results showed that they were less likely to suffer complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Their children also tended to have a healthier birth weight.
- No matter how fit you are initially, the weight gain and changing body shape during pregnancy can throw off your balance and flexibility. Yoga helps you adapt to your shifting center of gravity and keeps your muscles supple to relieve the soreness and tension that often come with the added weight.
Pregnancy is a time of joy and discovery as you prepare to bring a new life into the world. Practicing yoga conditions you physically, mentally and spiritually to fully appreciate this wondrous time. Your instructor welcomes any questions you may have about your prenatal yoga practice.
Intentional Wellness and Yoga Center has been running yoga and wellness business in northern Westchester since 1994.