Everyone knows that all pregnant women are the glowing picture of health and serenity, right? Not quite. Although pregnancy is a joyful and sacred experience, it often brings with it a variety of aches, pains and discomforts. Pregnancy has been known to cause back pain, muscle spasms, shifts in mood and a general anxiety about your health. Prenatal yoga can help ease all of these symptoms while allowing you to spiritually connect with your body and your baby.
Prenatal yoga often involves props such as bolsters, blankets and blocks to ensure maximum ease and comfort. Even if you’re following an specifically designed Beginners Yoga for Pregnancy online course, still check with your medical professional, and if you are attending a class, be sure to let your instructor know if you have any pre-existing conditions such as migraines or hypertension.
The added weight that pregnancy brings can take a toll on your back and lower body. Many women experience especially uncomfortable pain in the legs and buttocks related to the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs under the uterus and down the legs, and can become aggravated in response to extra weight in the pelvis. Poses such as Half Moon and Warrior Two help to stretch and lengthen the spine as well as stretch the abdomen, groin and leg muscles. Increased weight in the pelvis can also cause balance issues when standing and walking. Poses such as the Tree Pose can help with stability and balance, while increasing mental concentration.
In preparation for labor, it is important to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor which aid in pushing the baby out of the uterus. Poses such as Bound Ankle and Wide Angle help to increase blood flow to the pelvic area while stretching the groin and hips. Poses that open up the hips are also beneficial as they create space for your baby to move into proper positioning, which is a key factor in a healthy delivery. The Legs up the Wall pose creates that space by allowing the pelvis and abdomen to expand. Because your body is inverted, the heart is able to rest, allowing your blood pressure to regulate.
While physical strength and flexibility are important in pregnancy and childbirth, mental and spiritual strength are just as vital. At the end of your practice, your instructor may guide you through a wonderfully relaxing meditation called Savasana. Savasana involves lying on your side, clearing the mind and focusing on your breath. Yoga encourages bringing awareness to the present moment, where you can rest your mind and be free of worries about the future or pain from the past. Simply being present with your baby in these quiet moments can be a deeply spiritual experience.
Prenatal yoga is about honoring your body in all of its strength and femininity. It is about unifying the mind, body and spirit to achieve balance during pregnancy and throughout life. Yoga not only relieves physical ailments; it also empowers us to go through childbirth with joy and confidence. Each pregnancy is unique, so relish it through the mindfulness and peace that yoga can bring.