Exercising during pregnancy comes with plenty of benefits, just as long as it’s doctor approved. Prenatal yoga has become more popular over the years, as many people search for an effective, low-impact workout that can help them stay in shape and burn calories safely, during pregnancy. Working out a few times a week during pregnancy can help you to better manage lower and upper back pain, can alleviate stress, improve mental focus, boost your energy level, and can even help you deal with bloating and insomnia.
Key Takeaway: Exercising during pregnancy provides many health benefits, if doctor-approved. Prenatal yoga is considered a fun, low-impact type of workout that can help keep you in shape during pregnancy. Unlike traditional yoga, prenatal yoga utilizes positions that are designed specifically for pregnant women’s bodies.
A Fit Pregnancy
This type of yoga is specifically designed with the pregnant woman’s body in mind. Traditional yoga poses can place too much stress on the pelvic area and joints in pregnant women. As the fetus develops, there will be an increase in the amount of pressure and weight placed on the pelvic area, including the bladder. Additionally, when you’re expecting, the ligaments in this region tend to loosen up in preparation of the birth, which can bring about a whole new array of aches and pains, and difficulty lifting and walking. It can also increase joint pain and upper and lower back pain.
Since this type of yoga is specifically designed for pregnant women, many of the positions have been modified. There is also more of an emphasis on strengthening moves, stretching, and breathing techniques, all of which are designed to help your body prepare for birth.
Is Yoga During Pregnancy Safe?
As long as your physician gives you the okay, yoga during pregnancy is a great option if you want to stay in shape and work towards an easier delivery. Yoga, in general, is considered a low-impact workout. When modified, it’s very safe and gentle on the body, allowing expecting moms to improve their flexibility while strengthening and toning muscles.
If you’ve never taken a yoga class before, then starting now, when you’re pregnant can be a little intimidating. But these classes will not only help you get in shape or stay in shape they also allow you to interact with other expectant mothers.
Class will begin with a short relaxation session which helps to relax both the body and mind. Next up, five to ten minutes will be dedicated to slowly warming up the muscles and getting the blood flowing.
The standing vinyasa flow is an abdominal toning movement and it’s a common position used in most prenatal classes. It emphasizes both abdominal and pelvic floor movements, as well as diaphragmatic breathing.
Many of the poses used in prenatal classes are similar to those you’ll find in a vinyasa class, they’re simply modified for the pregnant body.
Next, the instructor will focus on gentle stretching techniques designed to lengthen and relax the muscles.
Savasana is another pose that is used in prenatal classes. Depending on your trimester, the pose can be easily modified. During the first and second trimester, you will lie on your back, using a bolster to prop up the upper portion of the body. During your third trimesters, you’ll lie on your side using a blanket and bolster for upper body support. This position is usually held for four to six minutes. This position is designed to promote total body relaxation.
Poses such as the right angle pose will involve folding the body at the hips, into a right angle with the feet planted firmly on the floor and the hands placed against the wall. This position is designed to relieve both pressure and discomfort on the spine while helping to lengthen it.
Side bending poses work to counteract how you roll your shoulders inward due to the increased weight of the growing baby. Side bends will also help with stretching the muscles between the ribs. Each month, as the fetus develops it pushes on the diaphragm, which can make it difficult to breathe comfortably.
The instructor will provide other poses that are designed to meet your needs, regardless of the trimester of pregnancy you’re in. Most of these poses will target the lower back, which is an area that’s the most prone to injury and pain as your growing belly affects the natural curvature of the spine, tugging at the body’s center of gravity.
Each of the positions is specifically designed to lengthen the muscles that support the lower and upper back, while also strengthening the back.
What are the Benefits of Yoga During Pregnancy?
As the ideal workout during pregnancy, yoga is a perfect choice, especially if you didn’t work out regularly before you became pregnant. It’s also said to be much safer and more effective than walking during pregnancy and offers more benefits such as pain management and an increase in flexibility.
During pregnancy, a prenatal workout can help to lower blood pressure and can reduce your risk of pregnancy-related complications including preterm labor.
If you’ve ever done yoga prior to pregnancy, then you may have noticed how relaxed you are after class. Since the prenatal version focuses on meditation, posture, and breathing exercises, this workout can be a relaxing, effective stress reducer.
Get Those Endorphins Flowing
Regular yoga workouts can also work as an effective mood stabilizer. Each workout incorporates meditation, breathing exercises, and deep relaxation. The result? Decreased anxiety and depression. Exercise gets your endorphins flowing, which is a natural mood elevator.
Like any workout, this type of yoga can help you burn calories and keep you active and healthy during pregnancy. Regular exercise can also make delivery easier. The breathing techniques used during a session can be used during labor. These breathing techniques are very calming and can help to relax muscles throughout the body.
Yoga Safety During Pregnancy
If you’re taking a prenatal class, make sure you let your instructor know your due date. This will help the instructor know which positions you should avoid, based on the trimester you’re in.
Additionally, before, during, and after class, make sure you drink plenty of water.
During a workout, do not lie on your back during the third trimester. The larger weight of the fetus will place too much pressure on the major vein called the vena cava. This vein brings blood to the heart. Doing so can severely affect circulation and can cause you to feel nauseous and lightheaded.
Hot yoga is a popular workout that many women take to lose weight quickly, but when you’re pregnant it’s definitely a class you want to steer clear of. Hot yoga is a high-impact form of yoga that’s performed using intense heat. This type of exposure to high temperatures during pregnancy can leave you feeling lightheaded and in extreme cases, can even cause you to pass out.
After pregnancy, it can be a great way to get back into shape, but during pregnancy, stick only to prenatal classes. For more information on how to lose weight after pregnancy, click here to read our Yoga Burn review.
If, after a prenatal workout you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Swelling in the legs
- The baby feels as though it’s less active than normal
- Back pain
- Belly cramps
Workouts Based on Trimester
Most physicians agree that when pregnant you should try to remain active for at least half an hour a day. Yoga can be a great low-impact exercise if modified correctly based on trimester.
During the first few months of pregnancy, you may find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the morning. You’ll feel more tired than usual, and you’ll be dealing with morning sickness. During a yoga workout, make sure you increase your water intake and take plenty of breaks.
The cat-cow position is a great option that you can use to replace the traditional downward dog position, especially if you’re dealing with morning sickness. The traditional downward dog position can increase your feeling of nausea.
During the second trimester, most women will experience an increase in their energy level. Because of this, you should take advantage of yoga strengthening and stretching moves such as stretches and squats that focus on toning the pelvic floor. These moves will help your body to prepare for delivery.
Your center of gravity will move forward as the baby grows. During this time, you’ll feel uncomfortable standing or sitting for too long. During this trimester it’s a good time to focus on breathing techniques and meditation, both of which can help to make you feel more centered and can also calm your heart rate. Learning how to control your breathing will also come in handy during labor.