Soon after my family came to know of the classic ‘Good News’ (which in Indian households means just one thing!), did I start getting advice and recommendations from elders. A good diet and exercise topped the list, or for that matter were the only two that mattered to me the most!
Ah! That’s for the mother fraternity to bother about! (Thanks for the load shedding Ma!)
That is solely the mother-to-be’s responsibility! Nobody can make you exercise till you yourself don’t want to do it!
Fortunately, I was interested in the deal because the elders assured me a comfortable labor and delivery and the thought of losing my pre-pregnancy body was irksome!
Right from the first visit to my doctor, I made it a point to ask her about exercises suitable for each week/month or for that matter-trimester! Initially, I was told to just walk for 20 minutes a day and I would be sorted. To my surprise, I was advised to continue with this routine up to the 4th month and the thought of losing out on time bothered me.
Only then did my doctor introduce me to Prenatal Yoga, for which I can’t thank her enough. I have fond memories of the time during which I practiced it, because the thought that you are doing it for your baby gives a very tender feel to the whole experience and makes it all the more rewarding. It also acts as the best incentive on days on which you’re the most exhausted.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
- Prenatal Yoga was a lifesaver on days when I used to have terrible back ache, leg cramps or awful fatigue. I made it a point to do it no matter how lethargic or exhausted I felt mentally, before starting – obviously taking care not to strain myself physically.
- The best thing about Prenatal Yoga is that the stretches and the pulls ease out all the muscles of the body that are under tension and make you feel lighter instantly! After all, carrying that champ or princess with you all the time, is quite heavy a task! Isn’t it?
- Though one dreams only while sleeping, but surprisingly sleeping itself seems like a dream during pregnancy! Prenatal Yoga is the best Mr. Fix-it-up when it comes to battling sleep troubles!
- It helps every cell and unit of your body relax and de-stresses you in the real sense! And trust me; these are not just words, but real experience being shared.
- Certain poses in Prenatal Yoga help make more space for the baby inside to move and also help open up the birth canal for an easier labor and delivery.
- It is an instant shot to perk up your energy levels and ward off all the fatigue that makes pregnancy unpleasant.
- Undoubtedly, Prenatal Yoga makes way for a shorter labor and healthier delivery, thereby making recovery post childbirth faster.
To know in detail about the benefits of Prenatal Yoga for both mother and child, read: Prenatal Yoga – Yoga For Blissful Pregnancy
When to begin Prenatal Yoga?
If the morning sickness in the 1st trimester, doesn’t make you seriously sick and the nausea doesn’t negate the happy feelings of expecting the little one; then just kick start your Prenatal Yoga routine right from day One!
The sooner, the better!
Coming to the Poses – A Trimester Guide
Here is a list of poses for the three trimesters. There are many equally good and effective poses, which I shall soon post for Prenatal Yoga lover moms-to-be!
- One Legged Pigeon Pose
- Full Butterfly Pose
- Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose
- Churning the Mill Pose
- Cat Stretch Pose
- Palm Tree Pose
- Squat and Rise Pose
- Waist Twisting Pose
- Wheel Pose
Since the baby bump is hardly visible in the first trimester, these poses can easily be performed then. However, avoid these in the second and the third trimesters if they cause discomfort due to the gradually popping up belly.
Many women complain of low blood pressure during the first trimester. If such is the case with you, then avoid remaining in standing positions for long as it could leave you feeling giddy.
- Thunderbolt Pose
- Hand Raising Pose
- Cat Stretch Pose
- Warrior Pose
- Hip Rotation Pose
- Triangle Pose
- Standing Squat Pose
Be mindful of your body balance while you perform these poses. Take the support of any stationary and steady object as you practice these.
The warrior pose is not recommended for mothers with high blood pressure.
Things to keep in Mind
Never ever exert yourself. Perform or stay in any pose only till your baby and body allow you to. Both of them are smart enough to signal you beforehand. All you have to do is, listen!
Always perform the poses near a wall, bed or chair (especially in the second and third trimesters). Pregnancy makes your balance go topsy-turvy and if need be, these things will come handy for support.
There should be a gap of at least two hours between eating and exercising or else the baby will feel uncomfortable and so will you.
Always wear light, loose and comfortable clothing as you perform Yoga to avoid getting heated up unnecessarily.
Keep all movements soft and gentle and do not overstrain, overstretch or force your body to perform.
Shift in the Centre of Gravity
As the pregnancy progresses, the weight of the little wonder growing inside you increases and so does the weight of your uterus and bosoms. Your normal back turns into a saddle back, altering your centre of gravity. Your centre of gravity shifts forward during pregnancy, and the one most hit is your balance. This newly and temporarily acquired one-sidedness can be dangerous and difficult to deal with, at times.
Well, the good news is that there is a possibility that it might affect you very little, since it is a gradual change that happens over weeks and not over a night!
However, as you reach the ‘Bye-feet-Hi-belly’ stage in pregnancy; be a bit extra careful with your balance and posture and here are some tips to help you do the same:
- Standing: Always stand straight without tilting forward, backward or to your sides. Your chin should be tucked in with your shoulders at the back and chest forward.
- Sitting: Sit straight and throw your shoulders back. Allow your buttocks to touch the back of the chair and use a back support, like a rolled up towel, if possible.
- Sleeping: Always sleep on your side, preferably left. Bend your knees slightly and keep a pillow between your legs for more comfort.
- Getting up from a sleeping position: Always turn to your side and put the whole body weight on one arm and leg as you get up. Never try to get up from a flat position with a jerk.
Finding the Right Prenatal Yoga Class
The most important aspect about the Prenatal Yoga class is your Yoga instructor. Make sure you take lessons from an experienced and credible instructor, who is known to have experience of teaching pregnant women. This involves your baby’s health and you can’t just let things go awry.
The distance of the Yoga centre should suit you. After all, you don’t want to get tired in just reaching the Yoga class, don’t you?
The timing of the class should suit you well. Be it morning or evening, just make sure you have your mind off all your tasks and household chores, as you want to spend this time with just your baby and a relaxed one-track mind for this is a must.
Talk to other Yoga students of the class before joining, in order to know their experience with the instructor and the class environment.
Learning the Breath of Relaxation
Another important aspect of Prenatal Yoga is the breathing technique. This can help you de-stress during pregnancy as well as help you calm down during labor. Deep breathing is one very simple and effective age-old technique used by would-be-mothers to calm themselves and their baby down. It not only relaxes them when required but also improves blood circulation and increases oxygen supply to the baby in turn.
Deep breathing coupled with other breathing techniques (Pranayama) can be and should be practiced but only under the guidance of a trained instructor.
Poses to Avoid
While you are expecting, take all care to avoid:
- Any Yoga poses that include deep backward bends, handstands, headstands and unsupported single leg poses. These are a strict no-no during pregnancy.
- Lying on your back as it cuts the oxygen and blood supply to the baby.
- Lying on your bump.
- Jumping, hopping, and skipping.
- Lifting heavy weights, such that they put a pressure on your waist and growing belly.
- Hot Yoga as this will heat you up and dehydrate you for bad.
- Any Yoga poses that ask you to go upside-down. Mommies, that’s really dangerous!
- Holding your breath for any reason-just any reason! You are not getting oxygen, means your baby too is deprived of it.
- Standing for long stretches of time
- Twisting yourself for any Yoga pose or exercise
Chair Yoga is an interesting solution for Yoga poses that you can’t perform because of your baby bump or changed body! All you need to get started is- a chair!
You can make the use of a chair by taking support as you perform your regular Prenatal Yoga poses. It will help you take that weight off your body as well as restore balance.
An added advantage of chair Yoga is that you can do it anywhere as you don’t need to carry a Yoga mat with you and chairs are available practically everywhere!
Prenatal Yoga was the only thing on my mind while I was expecting and so was Postnatal Yoga after childbirth! As I told you, I just didn’t want to lose my pre-pregnancy body and Postnatal Yoga took care of that! Though the demanding role of a new mum kept me from churning out time to exercise, but I still made sure to do it at least thrice a week.
Poses like the cow face pose, warrior II pose and the legs-up-the wall pose rejuvenated me and fixed quite a lot of major issues like body ache, weakened abs, aching shoulders & neck and even the fatigue due to childbirth.
That was my experience with Prenatal Yoga shared in detail for all the would-be-mommies out there!
They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating! Do, experience and believe – just as I did!
More on Pregnancy and Yoga:
- How to Keep A Pregnant Woman Happy
- Prenatal Yoga – Basics and Beyond
- Why You Need to Be Careful With Folic Acid?
References:  Wang TW, & Apgar BS (1998). Exercise during pregnancy. American family physician, 57 (8) PMID: 9575323. ^Back to Top^
Last Updated: Jun 6, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: Aug 6, 2014