Although many styles of yoga are off limits to moms-to-be, there is one that is not only allowed but also advised: prenatal yoga. Similar to a childbirth preparation class, prenatal yoga classes work on preparing the body for labor and motherhood by encouraging physical flexibility, mental concentration and rhythmic breathing. As such, these classes serve as a safe alternative to other forms of exercise, most of which are prohibited during pregnancy.
Since sequences are catered to pregnancy development, traditional poses are often modified over the course of the first, second and third trimester. In the third trimester, for example, yogis are encouraged to teach their students poses that will generate a sense of openness; relaxation and breathing techniques are also fundamental as the mother prepares for delivery. History Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa is one of the most well known pioneers in the field, although different forms of prenatal yoga have been around for quite some time. A teacher of Kundalini yoga, Khalsa began teaching classes to pregnant women after she gave birth to her daughter, Wahe Guru Kau, in 1982. She later started “The Khalsa Way,” an educational childbirth program, along with a 60-hour certification course for other instructors interested in her method. Her extensive clientele includes numerous celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Courtney Love and Madonna. Health Benefits Research indicates that prenatal yoga may improve sleeping patterns, lessen mental stress and anxiety, and reduce nausea, headaches, lower-back pain and shortness of breath. Perhaps the most important benefit of practicing this discipline is the decreased risk of premature birth. Yet, research also suggests it lessens the risk of intrauterine growth restriction, a prenatal condition that decelerates a baby’s development, as well as pregnancy-induced hypertension.[i]
People often advocate prenatal yoga as a community-building activity, where mothers can meet to share their experiences and concerns. In many classes, students are encouraged to get to know one another, as cultivating bonds through motherhood is considered to be a significant aspect of childbirth preparation. YIP’s Tips
- Talk to your doctor! Prenatal yoga is only recommended to those who aren’t already at risk of premature labor.
- Moderate your yoga routine! A mere 30 minutes of exercise a day is sufficient for expectant mothers.
- Avoid overheating! Stay hydrated and practice in a nice, cool room.
Prenatal Poses – There are 20 basic postures practiced in prenatal yoga:
- Bent Knee Relaxation Pose with Pelvic Tilting
- Bridge Pose
- Shoulder Stretch on Chair
- Cat Stretch Pose
- Cat Stretch Pose
- Standing Bent Knee Pose
- Back Rest to Wall
- Bent Knee Leg Stretch
- Bent Knee Thigh Stretch
- Straight Leg Stretch
- Standing Straight Leg Stretch
- Hero’s Pose
- Reclining Hero’s Pose
- Triangle Pose
- Side Angle Pose
- Squat to Wall
- Butterfly Pose
- Wide Angle Pose
- Bent Knee Twist
- Side Lying Pose
“Prenatal Yoga: What You Need to Know.” Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org/prenatal-yoga/art-20047193. Accessed Sept. 25, 2013.