Yoga – Good for Every Body
Yoga is a form of conditioning for the body and mind which originated in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. It involves practices such as deep breathing and mindful movement, and can include more profound spiritual contemplation. It can cultivate strength, flexibility and calm in whoever practices it. Yoga is practised all over the world, and can offer physical and mental health benefits to almost anyone.
Benefits of Yoga in Pregnancy
Yoga can offer particular advantages in pregnancy. The body undergoes a concentrated array of physical, hormonal and emotional changes at this time. This makes yoga particularly well-suited to take time out to look after yourself while your baby grows. Our modern lifestyle is usually hectic and busy. Yoga can help us to contemplate the internal process of growing a baby at our own pace. It can help sleep and general wellbeing. Pregnancy yoga is also a good opportunity to meet new people in your area who are about to become new parents, and make social connections.
Yogic breathing and mindful movement practices can help to cope with any stress, anxiety and depression which can arise in pregnancy. Slowing down and becoming present to our breath and bodies can assist with getting ready for the process of birth. Yoga breathing practices can help with pain management during birth. They can also increase lung capacity, which make you more comfortable as the baby increases in size and takes up more of your abdominal space.
Yoga also helps maintain physical fitness and flexibility during pregnancy. This can help keep you stay comfortable in your daily life as well as preparing you for the challenge of labour. The movements of yoga help to boost circulation, which can become sluggish in pregnancy. Avoiding standing helps to stop blood pooling and water retention in the feet. You may still need to stand a lot for work or to care for other children. Regular pregnancy yoga can help to alleviate the effects of excessive standing, including back pain and headaches.
Although yoga undoubtedly offers many benefits for pregnancy, it is still recommended that you follow some safety guidelines. Make sure your teacher is properly trained to teach pregnancy yoga. If you think you might be pregnant you should let your teacher know as early as possible so they can teach you safely. You should not lie on your back past the second trimester of pregnancy as this can restrict blood flow to the placenta.
Deep twists are contraindicated in pregnancy. This is because the presence of softening hormones can cause hypermobility and cause you to pull muscles which would normally be more stable. Any movement which overextends the abdominal muscles can pull ligaments attached to the uterus and should be avoided.
Bikram and other forms of yoga which involve a heated room are not recommended for pregnant women. Raising the body temperature too much is not considered safe in pregnancy. Pushing yourself until you are out of breath is also not advisable while pregnant. Yoga should be relaxing and restorative at this time. It is important to pay attention to your body and your limits.