Prenatal Yoga – Is It For You?
January 5, 2017
Yoga has long been praised as an excellent form of exercise, not only for its physical benefits but also for its stress-relieving and relaxation-inducing characteristics. There may not be a more important time than during pregnancy to adopt a hobby that not only provides physical activity but can help lower stress and promote relaxation. But for how hyped up it is, does prenatal yoga really deliver on all of its supposed benefits?
Here is a quick guide to everything you need to know about prenatal yoga.
What is prenatal yoga?
Prenatal yoga is a structured form of exercise that uses various poses that encourage stretching, mindful breathing, and mental awareness. Prenatal yoga is generally taught by a certified instructor who is familiar with the physiological and anatomical changes of the pregnant body, and introduces safe or modified poses that specifically strengthen or stretch the muscles associated with childbirth.
Those who haven’t tried or are new to yoga may be skeptical of its effectiveness, but a seasoned yogi will be quick to boast its benefits, also provided by the Mayo Clinic, that include:
- Better sleep
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Stronger and more flexible childbirth-related muscles
- Reduced lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath
- Meeting and socializing with other pregnant women
Chances are there will be several beginners at any class you attend, whom are probably nervous to try yoga at all, especially while pregnant. They are dealing with the same pregnancy-related issues that you are, and how nice would it be to have a group of friends going through what you’re going through with whom you can commiserate? The social benefit should definitely not be overlooked.
Before starting prenatal yoga or any exercise program, talk to your doctor to make sure there are no complications or issues that would interfere. Then as you begin your search for a prenatal yoga class, be sure to find out the qualifications of the instructor to make sure they are well-versed in appropriate pregnancy poses and movements. Most exercise facilities list their teacher bios on their websites, but if you can’t find one then don’t hesitate to call and ask.
To prepare for your first class, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure you’re properly hydrated. Bring a full water bottle with you when you go to drink during the class, but pay attention to your body and how you feel, slowing down or taking a break if necessary.
In addition to a water bottle, you may also be encouraged to bring a mat to exercise on, a wedge or cushion for support, or even a belt or belly band for stabilization. You can check with your teacher ahead of time to ask for recommendations, or even your doctor what he/she suggests.
Taking care of your body during pregnancy is so important, and affects not only your own health but the health of your baby as well. So talk to your doctor about attending a prenatal yoga class and enjoy your pregnancy with a healthier and stronger body and mind.
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