Dr. Smita Gautam
Consultant Homoeopath & Yoga Therapist
Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life, when phenomenal changes take place on a physical and emotional level. Yoga is an excellent way to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth and to minimize or prevent many of the common discomforts of pregnancy. The optimum time to begin yoga practice in preparation for childbearing is before pregnancy, although a gentle practice may be started under the guidance of an experienced teacher at almost any time during the term. Yoga can usually be safely practiced by women of normal health who have no complications related to present or past pregnancies. In cases where health issues or difficulties may exist consulting medical practitioner is always advisable. Gentle and modified yoga asanas practiced during the first, second and third trimester brings following benefits for the pregnant women:
Yoga encourages being in the moment — to be fully present. It encourages listening to the body, to accept it as it is, and to surrender to its sometimes uncomfortable changes. During pregnancy, as uterus expands and grows heavier with increasing weight of unborn baby, results in shifting of body’s centre of gravity and encourages the lumbar spine to arch. This shift in weight places extra strain on lower back and neck. When combined with loosening joints due to hormonal releases it can all add up to a miserable time with back pain. Through gentle asanas and simple strength- building postures, a pregnant woman can improve her physical health. Yoga open up trouble spots such as lumbar spine, shoulders, neck, and backs of the knees, and enhances flow of oxygen-rich blood flush out toxins.
Keep in Shape
The hormone progesterone slows down the metabolic rate, meaning thereby the weight gain will be upto 50 per cent more than usual. Prenatal yoga, unsurprisingly, has come into vogue with as a way to stay fit during pregnancy — and to make it easier to get back in shape post-natal. The gentle exercises tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women can be a good alternative to more high-intensity workouts that may not be advised for expecting mothers. Like any other yoga class, prenatal yoga sessions can help burn calories, as well as building strength and flexibility. Expecting mothers have an option to choose yoga sessions of varying intensities, from vigorous to slower and more meditative, depending on their needs.
Less stretch marks during pregnancy
Women whose skins are used to stretching with yoga get lesser stretch marks during pregnancy as compared to non-practitioners. As the volume of blood increases in the body during the pregnancy period, yoga helps to enhances healthy blood flow. Improved circulation acts upon the endocrine system which encourages glands more effectively, no matter how big is the belly.
Reduction in stress level
Yoga can be a safe, natural method of preparing for the miracle of childbirth by combining breathing and relaxation techniques with stretching, strengthening, and balancing exercises. The breathing exercises help in reduced stress level, relief of the symptoms of depression, easing back and joint pain, improved sleep, controlling nausea, developing the ability to exhale for the full length of a contraction. More over relaxation and breathing techniques help to release endorphins, natures’ natural painkillers.
Connect with unborn baby
One of the best things about yoga is the ‘me-time’ one gets – the quiet, reflective time where expectant mother shall focus on herself. The best thing a mother to be finds about yoga is the time to connect with the growing baby inside, feel every kick and flutter with each focused breathe and send wishes and thoughts down to him/her to be well and happy.
Regular yoga practice makes it easier to withdraw from the outer world of distractions and focus on instinctive realm within during labour. Flexibility of body and mind which an expectant mother develops during yoga practice helps to accept and adapt to whatever happens when the time comes to deliver.