Staying active throughout pregnancy is a huge benefit. Certain exercises are recommended more than others, and yoga seems to always be high on the list of choices. So what makes prenatal yoga so beneficial?
The Expectant Mother’s Guide shares the many benefits of yoga for expecting mothers during both pregnancy and labor. While pregnant, yoga helps increase overall strength, flexibility, and well-being. The stretching of the muscles and tissues helps stimulate organ systems and circulation of the blood, while the breathing exercises help with overall oxygenation and also mental focus and relaxation.
Specific yoga postures focus on strengthening the back and spine. This is extremely beneficial during pregnancy because of the increased weight in the front of your body, and the strain and stress this causes on the lower back and spine. Strengthening these muscles surrounding the spine will help reduce the degree of pelvic tilt and also aid in reducing lower back pain, protecting spinal alignment, and improve comfort of sleep.
Another great benefit is that yoga aids in digestion. The regular bending, contracting, and relaxing of the abdomen helps stimulate movement in the colon. As the baby grows, certain compressions may occur that slows down this process. The gentle movements of yoga poses help maintain regularity.
When the day finally comes, yoga also continues to be beneficial during the laboring process. During your yoga practice you can visualize and mentally help prepare for the big day. Yoga will also help you become more in tune with your body. Through continued practice you will gain a better understanding of where you might hold tension, what positions are most comfortable for you, or areas that might need a little more stretching.
According to Robin Sale of the Modern Stork, prenatal yoga has a strong emphasis on mind/body awareness. She says the practice develops concentration, focus and reduces stress. Also, exploring fears in a skillful way helps to reduce anticipatory fears and allows women to feel empowered and excited about the challenge.
Check your local listings for prenatal yoga classes and instructors!