Pregnancy Yoga Classes
The benefits of prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga classes are more popular than ever. When paired with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking, yoga can be an ideal way to maintain optimum health and fitness for both you and your developing child during your pregnancy. This age-old practice keeps you limber, tones your muscles, and improves your balance and circulation, with little, if any, impact on your joints.
Yoga is also beneficial because it helps you learn to breathe deeply and relax, which will be helpful as you face the physical demands of labour, birth, and motherhood. In fact, one of the first things you learn in a yoga class is how to breathe fully.
Learning specific, appropriate breathing techniques primes you for labour and childbirth by training you to stay calm when you need it most. When you’re in pain or afraid, your body produces adrenalin and may produce less oxytocin, a hormone that makes labour progress. A regular yoga practice will help you fight the urge to tighten up when you feel pain, and show you how to relax instead.
Along these same lines, according to a report in the April 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, rigorous studies have found scientific proof that yoga helps the body deal with stress by slowing heart and breathing rates and lowering blood pressure — which can benefit new Mums after the baby is born, too.
The benefits of yoga aren’t limited to your physical well-being. Taking a prenatal yoga class is a great way to meet other pregnant women — to become part of a community. Being in a positive, supportive environment with others like you can give you a regular emotional boost and keep you motivated to continue exercising.
Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.
- Improve sleep
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
- Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, headaches and shortness of breath
What happens during a typical prenatal yoga class?
- Breathing. You’ll be encouraged to focus on breathing in and out slowly and deeply through the nose. Prenatal yoga breathing techniques might help you reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy and work through contractions during labour.
- Gentle stretching. You’ll be encouraged to gently move different areas of your body, such as your neck and arms, through their full range of motion.
- Postures. While standing, sitting or lying on the ground, you’ll gently move your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength, flexibility and balance. Props — such as blankets, cushions and belts — might be used to provide support and comfort.
- Cool down and relaxation. At the end of each prenatal yoga class, you’ll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm. You might be encouraged to listen to your own breathing, pay close attention to sensations, thoughts and emotions, or repeat a mantra or word to bring about a state of self-awareness and inner calm.
- Time to chat with other Mums to be and your instructor. Sometimes during pregnancy – which is often a rollercoaster of ups and downs, worries and joy – all that is needed is a good chat with other pregnant women and some reassurance and friendly and well informed advice from your yoga instructor. Take some time either before or after class to talk if you feel it will help alleviate any concerns or fears.
Helpful Tips for Pregnancy Yoga:
During pregnancy there is a sense of uniting with your baby. Pregnancy yoga is a wonderful way to embrace this transformation and unity. It promotes relaxation through the practice of specific breathwork (Pranayama) and Yoga Postures (Asana), improving muscle strength and tone. It helps to calm the mind and reduces stress. This allows for better health and vitality throughout pregnancy.
It is wise to wait to join a pregnancy yoga class until after your 14th week. It is never too late to start and the practice of yoga will help to prepare both you and your baby by strengthening, toning and stretching areas of your body which play a big role in supporting your growing baby and facilitating an easier delivery and birth. You will also learn useful relaxation and breathing techniques for labour. You can continue to practice right up until the birth of your baby unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
Yoga – when practiced under the guidance of an experienced and qualified pregnancy yoga instructor – is an extremely safe practice for pregnancy. However – whether you are new to yoga or have a regular practice there are a few things to be aware of.
1. Remember always to move slowly and gently. Some yoga postures are not suitable for pregnancy and may be uncomfortable for you or your baby! If you any questions regarding this please always ask!
2. Due to hormonal changes in pregnancy joints become looser. It is helpful to be mindful of this, avoiding the temptation to move into this new openness as it is easy to cause injury.
3. If something doesn’t feel good don’t do it. Be sensitive to the transformation occurring in your body and focus on connecting with your beautiful baby rather than pushing to your maximum capabilty.
4. Always keep the breath soft and gentle, focus on the exhale and letting go. It is important to avoid any breath retention or pumping during pregnancy.
5. It is very important to keep well hydrated during class. Always bring water with you. Remember to eat something light before class i.e. piece of fruit or some nuts and have a snack afterwards.
6. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded please let me know. Sit or lie down and be with your breath.
7. If you are feeling tired, please rest. Sometimes that is all that is needed!
8. It is advisable to use lots of extra props and support throughout class (these will be supplied) – even if this would not be part of your normal practice.
9. It is beneficial to practice breath work, sonic massage, pelvic floor exercises and relaxation techniques at home. These are all extremely helpful both in preparation for and during labour.
10. Finally if anything changes from week to week with regards to you or your baby I would be grateful if you could inform me.
Mum & Baby Post-Natal Yoga –
We currently do not have a Mum and Baby class on our schedule but will be introducing one very soon. Please contact Liz Richards on 086 8963425 if you are interested in this class.