by Michelle Fondin: Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life…
It can also be one of the most anxiety-filled. With an overabundance of information and technology, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and focus too much on what can go wrong instead of enjoying this miraculous time in your life.
Regular prenatal yoga classes can help keep you centered, calm, and relatively pain-free throughout your pregnancy. Here are a few other positive ways prenatal yoga can influence moms-to-be.
Promote Mental Well-being
During pregnancy, you’re more in touch with your instinctual side. All reason seems to go out the door as your sensitivity increases and your five senses are heightened. You may no longer tolerate the smell of the refrigerator. If someone approaches your pregnant body, you might feel overprotective. Perhaps you cry at Hallmark or diaper commercials.
Don’t worry—you’re completely normal. As a woman expecting, your limbic system is heightened. You may also go into protective mode and feel urges to protect your fetus at all costs. This can cause feelings of worry and fear. But that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to panic. Prenatal yoga can teach you breathing techniques to help calm your mind, center your thoughts, and keep you in a space of inner tranquility, even when the world around you appears to threaten your peace.
Let’s face it; no one is quite as excited about your pregnancy as you. Your husband or partner may not understand the changes you’re experiencing, and your friends who don’t have kids may not relate when you mention something about your pregnancy.
In a prenatal yoga class, you have women like you who understand exactly what you’re experiencing and who can sympathize with you. This is a place where you can let it all out and celebrate your victories and challenges. Plus, the women you meet have the potential to become great friends with built in playmates for your new baby.
Ease Aches and Pains
While no two pregnancies are alike, most women experience some amount of physical discomfort during pregnancy. Some common culprits include lower back and sciatic pain. Many yoga poses, such as pigeon, cow, and cat can help tremendously. But an actual yoga class, that stimulates circulation and gets you moving, can help alleviate physical discomforts. And the results can last for a good 24 to 48 hours after your class.
A Healthy Delivery
Yoga teaches you to tune into your body and pay attention to its natural signals. Hip openers and squats can help prepare your body for labor and delivery while familiarity with other yoga poses will allow you to stretch or find positions during labor that can help your body to relax. Yoga breathing or Pranayama can also help you during contractions, and meditation at the end of class can prepare you to center inward when labor starts to get difficult.
What to Look for in a Prenatal Yoga Class
- Gentle hatha yoga with a certified yoga instructor who has a specialty in prenatal yoga, and who preferably has been through pregnancy, labor, and childbirth.
- A class that’s geared toward mind-body connection and infused with childbirth education.
- A pregnant women’s-only class that is strict about this policy.
- A center, which also offers workshops for expectant couples.
Even if you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, avoid hot yoga while pregnant. A woman’s core body temperature should not be elevated during pregnancy to keep the growing baby safe. Avoid joining a non-prenatal yoga class after the first trimester. Most instructors are not trained in modifications for pregnant women.
Always ask your healthcare provider’s permission before joining any exercise program while expecting. Do check with your health insurance to see if you can get reimbursed for prenatal yoga classes. And finally, if a class just doesn’t feel right for you, shop around until you find a yoga center and instructor that fits your needs.