Prenatal yoga is hardly a new phenomenon but in recent years its popularity has skyrocketed; favoured by the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge, Victoria Beckham and Kimberley Walsh to name a few. These and other celebrities are helping to spread the word that prenatal yoga has benefits that include better sleep, improved circulation, lower stress,and an easier labour.
One of the key elements of prenatal yoga is that it helps to aid relaxation. Techniques learned in class enable ladies to 'let go' of their fears and become comfortable with all the changes that happen during pregnancy; both physically and emotionally. They become equipped with a “tool kit” of relaxation and breathing techniques which can be called upon at any time during their pregnancy and, particularly, during delivery of their baby.
The benefits of relaxation techniques learned in a yoga class include:
- Less pain and intensity of contractions as the lady has learned to work with her body and to understand how strong she really is to birth her baby.
- A conservation of energy; the more relaxed a lady is, the less energy she uses.
- The ability to rest between contractions using breathing techniques which help the body to re-charge itself naturally.
- An understanding of the ability to “breath your baby down” without having to use excessive pushing.
- Less fear of birth itself. Many women credit the techniques they had learned during yoga with keeping them calm and making their birth easier.
A recent paper in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety revealed that pregnant women who attended a yoga class every week for eight weeks experienced less anxiety compared to those who received normal antenatal treatment, with a single yoga class during pregnancy having the potential to cut anxiety to mothers-to-be by a third. It encourages them to look forward to meeting their baby and not feel so petrified of the birth process.
Prenatal yoga has also been shown to reduce antenatal depression. It promotes a sense of wellbeing both during and after pregnancy which leads to a feeling of having a better ability to cope with stress and the responsibility of becoming a parent. It also gives the body a well deserved ”rest” from the effects of stress. It only takes a small amount of yoga to make quite a difference. The survey mentioned above found that a single yoga class can cut anxiety in mothers by up to one third.
There are many other benefits for women who practise yoga including:
- Fewer hospital admissions during pregnancy, fewer caesarian sections and fewer post partum complications.
- Higher birthweight in their babies
- It reduces the effects of fatigue and tiredness caused by stress.
- Less aches and pains are felt, as these can be due to increased muscle tension. Yoga classes gently relax and stretch muscles which means that many of these aches and pains gently fade away.
- Practicing relaxation may reduce blood pressure.
- Bonding with other new mums.
You really can’t go wrong with yoga during pregnancy. It is safe, healthy and a wonderful way for you to have a little “me” time; precious time to bond with your baby. Many ladies make lifelong friends in their prenatal yoga class making it a great way to build a supportive network of other mums.
Mandy Rees is a qualified YogaBellies prenatal yoga teacher. She lives in Moseley with her husband and two daughters, Grace (12) and Neave (8). When not teaching or practicing yoga, Mandy runs everywhere and trains for marathons!
If you are interested in coming to one of Mandy's classes email firstname.lastname@example.org