The numerous benefits of prenatal yoga

By Laura Tree
Prenatal yoga teacher, FreeSpirit Yoga

For most women, during pregnancy, awareness of the body and the changes that are taking place within are magnified. The desire to incorporate a healthier lifestyle comes naturally at this time as mother and child begin to grow together in countless ways.
Prenatal yoga classes are an exceptional way to stay fit mentally and physically, enhance a healthy way of being and prepare yourself for the birthing process.
Some of Hatha Yoga’s main teachings are: the art of paying attention to our breathing (pranayama); learning to stay present; and listening to the body and respecting the cues it gives us in each moment. These two teachings alone are things every mother will benefit from while preparing for that final moment when contractions begin. Birthing breath, awareness and focus can be developed along with a fit body, allowing for more calm and confidence when the due date arrives.
Even if you have never done yoga, you will find a prenatal yoga practice not only allows you to feel more energized and deepen your attunement to your body’s needs and changes, but it will also allow you to enhance your relationship to the growing child within.
For those women who have previously practiced yoga, this is an excellent way to continue your exploration, being ever mindful to honor the changes your body is going through yet remembering not to attempt to intensify your yoga practice at this time. Inform your current instructor as soon as you find out you are pregnant, and they or your studio’s prenatal instructor can consult about which asanas (yoga poses) are appropriate or inappropriate at this time.
Prenatal yoga can also create a loving supportive community for you with the group of mothers-to-be who will attend classes with you each week. Strong and lasting friendships can be birthed now as you share information and similar experience during this special time.
A prenatal yoga practice may begin at any time during pregnancy, but in order to receive ultimate benefit one should invest in the practice as soon as possible. The pregnant body produces a hormone called relaxin that allows it to soften and open bones and ligaments which normally are fairly inflexible, so it is important to not overextend as you move, (no bouncing, jumping, forcing), remembering to stay on the conservative side right now.
Twists or anything that compresses the uterus is not recommended at this time.
Find a prenatal instructor at your local yoga studio or speak to your current prenatal instructor about recommended asanas for your stage of pregnancy and remember to breathe…nice deep inhales…long extended exhales. Ahhhhh, enjoy, relax, bring peace into your day. Namasté.

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