Many women take up yoga during pregnancy, as they know that it is supposed to be good for relaxation and helping wit the birth.
It also helps one to breath properly and to practice postures to relieve discomfort in the body.
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And it is an ideal way to keep the body supple withouit straining.
It can boost energy levels, relieve stress and anxiety, promote relaxation and restful sleep and keep the body strong and healthy keeping in mind the health of the baby and also the growing relationship between mother and baby.
Be aware that not all forms of Yoga are suitable for pregnancy
There are many types of yoga available these days, and some forms are very strong and are more like fitness workouts rather than traditional style yogas.
If you are not familiar with the different styles, please see What type of yoga is best for me ?
If you are pregnant and have not practiced yoga before, best to avoid ashtanga or bikram yoga and any of their derivatives such as vinyasa flow, hot yoga or power yoga.
That is unless the yoga teacher has specifically modified them for pregnancy.
Best to go to a special class which is only for pregnant women.
Stages of Pregnancy
The first Trimester up as far as the 14 or 16 weeks can be very tiring, and ones energy can vary greatly.
Best not to take up yoga during this time, unless you have practiced previously.
Best not to take up any New energetic practices that you are not used to.
It you are used to practicing strong vigourous yoga every day for at least a year before the pregnancy then it is fine to continue, but to avoid deep twists and use your own discretion at some on the inverted postures or very advanced poistures. Best to avoid postures which put huge pressure on the stomachj or abdomine such as the peacock pose.
Avoid strong uddiyana bandha or kunjal.
The second semester from 16 to 33 weeks is sometimes known as the Cheery Trimester.
This is the time to take up yoga if you are new to it.
The third Trimester from 33 to 39 to 42 weeks one can feel different degrees of slowness and heaviness.
The fourth Trimester after the Birth, one can be in shock and may need to deal with physical difficulties as well as mental and emotional change.
Do breathe fully, and learn how to exhale completely
Do move slowly and gently
Do rest whenever you need to
Do support your knees with cushions or blocks in butterfly (baddha konasana)
Do enjoy chest opening practices to promote easy breath
Do use props and support to help you in your practice, especially when resting
Do take time to let yoga help you focus on yourself and your baby
Do practice yogic relaxation techniques as often as you can, including chanting, humming and sound practices
Do use yogic pelvic floor practices (e.g mulabandha) to learn how to identify, tone and release the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Don’t practise inverted postures
Don’t jump from pose to pose
Don’t be tough on yourself – and don’t hold any poses for more than 5 breaths
Don’t over stretch
Don’t hold your breath or practice bhastrika, kapalabhati or any vigorous pumping breaths
Don’t fold forwards if it feels awkward
Don’t rest on your front
Don’t lie on your back after 30 weeks
Don’t twist deeply
Don’t rush practice
Don’t maintain a lifted mulabandha for longer than a single breath.
Breathing practice for birth
The best practice is done very gentle with little or no effort.
If possible you should breath through the nose both on inhalation and also exhalation.
If you begin early in pregnancy, best to get a qualified yoga teacher to show you the various stages in the complete yogic breath, and then practice these stages daily yourself.
The most important thing out of all yoga practices to help with pregnancy, is the breath.