As an expectant mother, it may be challenging to find an exercise program that is safe for both you and your baby. Practicing yoga is a great alternative to traditional high-impact workouts such as running, interval training and aerobics because of its calming and stress-relieving effects.
Before beginning any exercise program during pregnancy, it’s important to seek advice from a medical professional, however, most experts recommend yoga as a safe alternative for those seeking respite from uncomfortable pregnancy-related issues such as lower back pain, knee joint pain and shifted center of gravity. If you’re looking for a way to bond with your baby in a mindful way while building body awareness, these five health benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy should convince you to give it a try:
- Regulates mood. Yoga requires deep breathing, which shifts the nervous system into parasympathetic mode. This shift brings on relaxation, which calms our bodies and helps our digestion system operate properly. And when you’re feeling great on the inside, it results in less stress and a balanced, calm mood overall. Bonus: deep breathing also helps regulate nausea and prepares you for breathing during labor.
- Moral support. You can practice yoga safely in the comfort of your home, but some expectant mothers prefer to attend yoga classes with other mothers because of the sense of community. Approaching this next chapter of life can be quite daunting and unfamiliar, and it helps to have others around you experiencing the same things and supporting you as you and the baby grow.
- Decreased aches and pains. As your baby grows inside you, your body experiences pains that you probably don’t even notice are taking a toll on you. Because of the increased size of your belly, your lower back experiences strain and your hips get tighter. Yoga relieves lower back tension by opening the hips and lengthening the spine. It also helps alleviate tension along the neck and shoulders.
- Increased strength. It takes a lot of energy to carry a baby. Yoga strengthens and tones your body, keeping you in shape and preparing your body for labor. Keep in mind, you’ll want to avoid any challenging poses that make you vulnerable to injury or accidents. Use discretion when practicing inversions and twisting poses, and steer clear of hot yoga. Always be sure to err on the safe side of your yoga practice.
- Improved sleep. A lack of sleep can cause stress buildup and other problems such as headaches, loss of appetite and high blood pressure. Since yoga calms the nervous system, practicing can result in deeper sleep and fewer awakenings – giving your body the time it needs to repair and replenish itself. Try adding periods of lengthened stretching and meditation sessions to enhance the effectiveness of yoga and improve sleep.
Not only does yoga during pregnancy help with keeping your pregnant body healthy and happy, it creates a mindful connection between you and your baby. It’s a great way to notice how your body is changing and become aware of what’s going on inside you. Depending on what trimester you are in, your practice will change depending on what’s safe. However, here are some beginner pregnancy yoga poses to get you started:
- Seated bound angle pose
- Standing wide-legged forward fold
- Cat-cow pose
- Easy pose
- Extended triangle pose
- Warrior II pose
- Head-to-knee forward bend
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