4 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
If there was a pregnancy checklist, prenatal yoga would probably be on there. Along with childbirth education classes, decorating the baby’s room and pregnancy photos; prenatal yoga is often seen as a must-try. But why? As a doula and yoga teacher, I see the many benefits that prenatal yoga has on the body, mind and growing baby, which include:
1) Mindfulness Practice
The experience of a person growing inside of another person is surreal and challenging to comprehend in an embodied way. Until baby starts moving, it can be hard to believe that there is a human growing in there. A mindfulness practice is an amazing way to develop connection with your baby and to become more aware of the changes occurring in the body. Yoga is a tool to tune in to the breath and the body, actions that we don’t spend enough time doing in our culture. Bringing attention to all of the physical and emotional changes in the body can help develop a deeper awareness of the beautiful baby growing inside of you and help develop a stronger bond with them.
2) Physical Exercise
Whether you enjoyed physical exercise before your pregnancy or not, physical activity during pregnancy is essential. In addition to diet, physical activity is one of the core ways to take care of your body during those 9 months. Prenatal yoga is the perfect combination of strength building and relaxation that you need during pregnancy. By moving your body in supportive ways, you will be maintaining the physical activity you did before pregnancy, while making the necessary changes to support your pregnancy. In addition, common areas of tension, such as discomfort in the hips, shoulders and neck are often addressed in a yoga practice. Yoga is an opportunity to stretch out the parts of the body experiencing tension, and get comfortable with postures that can be practiced at home once baby arrives.
3) Birth Preparation
Practicing yoga poses (also known as asanas) can build strength and stretch the body, but it also helps us become more aware of our bodies and forces us to really listen to the messages they relay. Paired with breath awareness, yoga is the perfect way to prepare the body for birth. Throughout your pregnancy, and especially towards the end, you might be thinking more about the space that you will be birthing in, and the ways that you will move around it. As suggested by the book, Active Birth by Janet Balaskas, free movement during labour is essential to help labour progress. Practicing poses such as supported squats, lunges and hands and knees, will get your body accustomed to these positions so they will be familiar when your labour begins.
One of my favourite parts of teaching prenatal yoga is watching expecting parents connect with other expecting parents. I believe that it truly takes a village to raise a child and think that connecting with other community members prenatally is a great way to do that. I get so much joy watching parents in different stages of pregnancy offer support to each other and build friendships that last into their new lives as parents.
The advice provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. Consultation with a primary care provider is recommend for anyone suffering from a health problem.