“Ideally it’s best to start a yoga class from week 16 of your pregnancy,” says yoga teacher, J’anaki Ashi-Ra from Yoga Mama in Johannesburg. “However, if you’ve had no previous miscarriages or other pregnancy complications, you can start going to a pregnancy-only yoga class from as early as four weeks during your pregnancy.”
Five benefits of yoga during pregnancy
- Joint exercises are perfect for poor circulation, swelling and water retention. Joint exercises are also great for improving mobility and they help prepare your body for squatting and other birthing positions.
- The breathing exercises balance the autonomic nervous system which regulates the major systems of the body and controls hormonal secretions. Deep breathing increases the intake of oxygen to both the mother and the baby. ‘Birthing breaths’ will help to prepare you for a calm birth experience.
- Gentle stretches and strong postures builds strength and helps maintain supple and toned muscles.
- Yoga Nidra regulates fluctuating blood pressure and promotes inner communication between you and your child, as well as assisting in the release of any impressions associated with the fear of giving birth.“During this relaxation technique you gain an abundance of energy by gaining the equivalent of two hours sleep in just 20 minutes,” explains Ashi-Ra.
- In addition to developing a deeper awareness of your body, a powerful connection between a mother and her unborn child is established during yoga.
Yoga can help with lower back pain
Stretching and strengthening exercises can help with lower back pain during pregnancy. “By strengthening your thighs, abdomen and back muscles, you create a strong base posture like a corset to protect your back,” explains Ashi-Ra.
Your pelvis will change throughout your pregnancy, opening to accommodate your baby and prepare for birth. This happens as a result of stretching ligaments and places strain on your lower back and groin. Ashi-Ra says by stretching those areas, you open your body to move freely without any discomfort.
She cautions that it’s important not to over stretch either, as this can cause bruising to your ligaments as well as possible, long-lasting damage to your skeletal structure.
Yoga can help with your posture
Practicing yoga can help you to cultivate awareness of how to sit, stand and move in ways that support your growing belly and lower back muscles. “You become very aware of your body when you practice yoga. With the help of a trained pregnancy yoga teacher, you can adjust your posture to ensure that your pregnancy is backache free,” says Ashi-Ra.
Tips to choose a yoga class
A pregnancy-only yoga class is best for relieving back pain during pregnancy. “Choose a class that is set at a pace that suits your nature. If you are a slower moving individual, look for a slower paced class. If you are a go-go type of person, find a stronger class or challenge yourself with a slower, more meditative class,” says Ashi-Ra.
Visit www.yogamama.co.za to locate a workshop or class near you.
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