Yoga for Pregnancy and Beyond
Natural mommies are often already yoga fans before they become pregnant. Yoga is popular, because it helps you relax and deal with the stresses of life as well as making you strong and flexible. If you’re like most expectant moms, you probably find the extra hormones of pregnancy making you tense and irritable, not to mention the anxiety you may be feeling about the upcoming birth. Yoga can help reduce these negative vibes.
Natural childbirth training, such as Lamaze, relies heavily on breathing techniques, and so does yoga. Relaxation is also a major factor in both childbirth training and yoga. This makes prenatal yoga practice a great idea because it will support your childbirth training.
Your body changes throughout pregnancy in some ways that don’t show as well as ones that do. For instance, as you move into the second and third trimester, hormones begin to make your leg and hip joints limber up. Also, the added abdominal weight puts pressure on the blood vessels in your lower back so that you often can’t lie comfortably or safely on your back for very long during late pregnancy. These physical symptoms require you to avoid certain poses as pregnancy progresses.
Fortunately, many yoga positions are very helpful to your changing body. For instance, the pelvic tilting done in the cat stretch is good for your lower back and abdomen. Here’s how to do a cat stretch. Get on your hands and knees. Inhale deeply and slowly while lowering your chin to your chest. At the same time, arch your back like a cat. Hold a few seconds. Release your breath slowly and deliberately while letting your back drop down until it’s swayed like an old horse and your face is looking up. Repeat several times.
When doing yoga, always move slowly, relax into each position. Never bounce deeper into a stretch, and never stretch to the point of discomfort. Yoga should feel good.
Another stretch move that is good throughout pregnancy is squatting. If you are planning a home birth or a delivery in another setting that offers you freedom to choose your position, you may find that a deep, relaxed squat is the best position for you to give birth. In fact, it’s such a good position, it’s possible to deliver a baby too quickly and cause tears to the cervix or perineum if your pushes are not controlled.
To practice squatting, stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and lower yourself as far as you can. Don’t come up on your toes. Stay flat on your feet. You will feel the stretch in the thigh and knee joints. Don’t go so low it hurts. Practice a few seconds each day, increasing in depth and duration as you go. You may come to find this a comfortable position for doing tasks such as weeding the garden.
After birth, your body can benefit from yoga postures, too. The poses that stretch the neck and shoulders are good for those times you tense up from carrying the baby and from nursing in a cramped position. The poses that rock the pelvis will help you gain strength again in those hard working abs. Yes, yoga is a natural for moms before and after the birth.
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