Posts Tagged pregnancy
Yoga is sought by many pregnant women as an option for ensuring a safe and comfortable delivery and the popularity of this concept can be adjudged by the fact that nowadays there are many programs which specifically advertise as teaching yoga for pregnant women. There was a time in the past when pregnancy and exercise were considered as being ideal partners which went hand in hand for a hassle free delivery but this was soon replaced by the concept of yoga and pregnancy during the later years when people started having more faith in the healing power of yoga.
The superiority of yoga as compared to exercise during pregnancy was also established due to the fact that there were times when the performance of strenuous exercise caused severe complications during pregnancy while women who practiced yoga always had a more peaceful tenure. But a noteworthy point which must be kept in mind in this regard is that yoga for pregnant women is a specialized stream which would prove to be beneficial only when learnt and performed under the able guidance of an expert. Since pregnancy entails the gradual swelling of abdomen as it advances, it is only an expert of this branch who would be aware of the modified poses constituting yoga for pregnant women in which the growing abdomen is well accommodated.
The mantra of yoga and pregnancy is a gentle way in which the body can be kept active as well as supple without bearing too much strain which might have a disastrous consequence on one’s pregnancy. Apart from enabling the practitioner to stretch gently and indulge in self exploration, yoga for pregnant women has the following benefits:
- Yogic breathing and pranayam helps to overcome nausea as well as morning and evening sickness to a considerable extent which in turn prevents frequent mood swings from taking place.
- Having performed yoga throughout the three trimesters under the guidance of an expert, the woman can feel the benefit in form of muscular relaxation in the cervix and birth canal thus causing the pelvis to dilate and making the process of labor easier.
- Yoga for pregnant women greatly enhances the level of energy in women which in turn enables them to remain calm and focus on the daily activities.
- Yoga during the third trimester plays an instrumental role in relieving fluid retention and reducing the occurrence of cramps thus making this crucial phase much more comfortable than it otherwise would have been.
Women not only accrue benefits from yoga during their pregnancy but after delivery as well as practicing yoga during the post natal phase helps to restore the original shape of the body and reduces breast discomfort as well.
A healthy pregnancy followed by a safe delivery is a dream-come-true for every woman and it is with the intention of accomplishing this objective that women put their explicit faith in the combination of yoga and pregnancy. While pregnancy has been the forte of women-kind of every species ever since the inception of life on Earth, yoga is an ancient form of exercise which was devised centuries ago by yogis as a way to lead a life which is healthy in all aspects, mental, physical and spiritual. Therefore, the combination of both in the following epochs has been aptly termed as yoga for pregnant women since it entails the practice of only those yoga asanas which contribute significantly towards a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
Since pregnancy is a state which prohibits rigorous physical exercise for the safety of the unborn infant, yoga for pregnant women entails the practice of selected asanas which are meant for promoting good health without causing any hindrance to the smooth progress of pregnancy. While some of these asanas involve sitting postures and can be performed even during the leisure time while watching television, some others require deep concentration and hence one needs to set aside some time during the day for practice.
One of the sitting asanas which is incorporated in the schedule of yoga for pregnant women is Padmasana, also known as the classic lotus pose in which the woman is required to sit by crossing both legs and placing the ankles on the opposite thighs. While performing this asana, the practitioner’s back should be straight and hands should be out-stretched in front and placed on both knees without being bent at the elbows. Another yoga asana which entails a sitting pose is the Vajrasana in which the legs are bent at the knees and placed under the practitioner who then sits on the heels through the duration of the asana. Although these two asanas have their respective significance and importance, it is the Titali asana or the butterfly pose which is one of the most beneficial poses during pregnancy since its performance right from the first trimester is known the ease childbirth to a great extent.
Some of the other asanas which are included in the schedule of yoga for pregnant women are Utthanasan or squats and the Marjari asana or the cat stretch pose. While the former requires the practitioner to squat by both heels facing inwards, toes facing outwards and hands hanging down in front the latter entails going down on all fours and following an inhalation and exhalation routine alternatively at least six times. Likewise, the benefit of Utthanasana can be realized through can be realized in form of short labor and extremely quick delivery and the benefit of Marjari asana can be realized in form of the internal toning of the reproductive system.
Having its roots firmly established in the ancient mystical Indian culture, yoga is one of the oldest forms of exercise which teaches its practitioner to make optimum use of a combination of movement, breath, posture, relaxation and meditation as a recipe for leading a healthy, balanced and stable life. It is owing to these reasons that even pregnant women are recommended to practice yoga so that they are able to make good use of the yogic principles during what may turn out to be one of the most decisive phases of their lives.
The decision to learn yoga leads an individual to enroll for classes which teach beginner’s yoga for pregnant women since many of the fresh students belong to a category who are going to attempt yoga for the first time in their lives. In such a situation, it is imperative for the individual to be cognizant of certain guidelines which are applicable to beginner’s yoga for pregnant women and hence should be adhered to with sincerity. Some of these guidelines are listed as follows:
- Morning is the most appropriate time for practicing yoga because it is the time of the day when the practitioner is fresh, calm and composed and hence is able to perform the various body movements with ease and vigor. This is the reason as to why most of the yoga classes are held in the morning and the practitioners told to attend without having consumed a heavy meal.
- Beginner’s yoga for pregnant women may be usually learnt in classes or at home but irrespective of the medium of learning the practitioner must ensure that the chosen venue must fulfill the requisites of being calm, quite, well ventilated and free of dust and distractions.
- While attending regular classes with the intention of learning beginner’s yoga for pregnant women, one must clear one’s bowels, nostrils and throat and consume a glass of lukewarm water every time prior to attending a yoga class.
- The progress curve of learning should be methodical and systematic wherein one commences the learning process with easy and relaxed stretches and then gradually proceed to more complicated asanas.
- An important point which needs to be kept in mind is that beginner’s yoga for pregnant women is undertaken with the intention of feeling energized and calm and hence the slightest sign of fatigue, weariness and depression should be taken as an indication for discontinuing the course immediately.
- The breathing accompanying the yoga should be long and deep and most of the inhalation and exhalation should be carried out through the nose and not through the mouth unless specifically mentioned.
- Every class of beginner’s yoga for pregnant women should be interspersed with a number of breaks particularly after a strenuous exercise schedule so that then entire session is relaxed and comfortable.
- Beginner’s yoga for pregnant women should always be accompanied by a balanced diet but over eating and eating stale food during this phase should be steadfastly avoided.
- Every yoga session must be commenced with a proper warming up session for a few minutes subsequently followed by yogic asanas.
- Any such program must be undertaken with confidence only if the practitioner nurses an urge and willingness to undertake it and not by being forced into it by someone.
A normal pregnancy which lasts all through its stipulated period of nine months consists of three trimesters of three months each with the initial three months being designated as the first trimester and the last and final three months being the third trimester. Therefore, yoga for pregnant women is also designed in such a way that it caters to the unique requirements of each individual trimester so that the practitioner does not experience either physical or mental discomfort of any sort.
The first trimester commences when the woman conceives and is the most delicate phase since the pregnancy is in its initial stages. Since the first three months are particularly crucial, more so for women who have a history of complications or who have conceived late, the yoga for pregnant women at this stage should consist only of gentle preparatory poses many of which entail stretching in a relaxed manner. For the combination of yoga and pregnancy to be successful throughout till the end of delivery, it is imperative that the yogic asanas performed during the first three months should not be rigorous and are only meant for toning the body in preparation for the next phase.
Having undergone the beginner’s yoga during the first trimester, the woman during the second trimester is in a better shape mentally as well as physically since she is now familiar with the yoga for pregnant women. Since it is during the second trimester that the abdomen begins to grow, extreme stretches and lying on the back must be completely avoided because while the former may inadvertently put pressure on the uterus the latter may cause back pain to the practitioner. Some of the recommended poses during this trimester are the modified child pose and the flying fish pose both of which must be attempted.
The third trimester is the most important phase in terms of yoga and pregnancy as it entails preparation for the final delivery in the safest and most comfortable manner. In this regard, extreme back-bends and forward bends are completely omitted and are replaced instead by squatting postures or the Titali asana, the practice of which is known to ease the delivery.
Further guidelines prohibit the practitioner from indulging in hyperventilation and breath retention practices although focused inhalations and exhalations as a part of pranayam must be mastered under guidance. This not only helps to improve the stamina and energy levels of the expecting mother but brings about a positive change in the overall outlook as well thus being a positive influence on the baby.