Some people have the misconception that yoga is a very quiet practice, and they see it linked to eastern religions and myths. Yoga did originate in ancient India, and it was an integral part of Hinduism, however today, most practitioners practice the secular version. Indeed, more than thirty million Americans practice yoga today, and in fact, prenatal yoga classes have become quite the rage.
Pregnancy and exercise can mesh quite well, if you are careful about the exercise program you embark upon. Yoga is a gentle art, and quite adaptable to the needs and modifications required during pregnancy. This makes it an ideal workout option for expectant moms. Of course, it‘s always best to start off by asking your doctor to approve any type of workout program, but once you have his blessings, yoga is certainly a viable exercise choice. In fact, many physicians recommend a mild cardiovascular workout, such as walking, combined with something like yoga, which enhances flexibility, muscle tone and overall fitness.
In your first trimester, there are yoga positions that can help with circulation, strengthening your legs, and increasing your energy levels. Such poses as The Mountain, The Triangle, The Warrior and The Tree, all provide relaxing stretches.
In the second and third trimesters, it is advisable to avoid any pose that requires you to lie on your back, as this can decrease blood flow to the uterus. You will also want to decrease your practice time, to avoid fatigue. Do not hold your poses too long, and use props for balance, as your center of gravity will begin to shift. It is okay to put pressure on your shoulders and back, but never on your abdomen. You will always start and end your workouts with a few minutes of relaxation. The classic Corpse Pose works well for this. During the last months of pregnancy, it can be hard to find a relaxation pose that’s comfortable. You might want to try a modified Child’s Pose, or Abdominal Corpse Pose.
Yoga practitioners believe that breathing exercises, or pranayama, will calm and control the flow of energy, which is known as prana. Pranayama is especially important for moms-to-be. Practicing breathing techniques increases the flow of oxygen, and helps to calm both the mind and body. If you want to prevent soggy abdomen, stretch marks and weight gain, it’s a good idea to practice the Modified Cobra pose on a daily basis. The Cat is a pose that is excellent for keeping your skin soft and elastic. It also strengthens the legs and pelvis, and helps your lower back stay limber. Both Wall Stretches and Squatting will help prepare your body for delivery.
The best way to incorporate pregnancy and exercise is to enroll in a prenatal yoga class. These classes gear their programs of yoga for pregnant women, making exercises during pregnancy effective and safe. A trained instructor will guide you through your workout, modify poses as needed, and make sure you are maximizing your workout, throughout your pregnancy.