About Prenatal Yoga

What to know for yoga during pregnancy

Prenatal yoga is a modified form of yoga specifically designed for expecting moms. Not only is prenatal yoga a safe form of exercise for pregnant women, but it can help you prepare for labor as well. It’s also a good way to keep up your mental health when you’re feeling stressed by the physical demands of pregnancy and the process of preparing for your new baby’s arrival.

Stress reduction

Like other types of yoga, prenatal yoga can be very effective at reducing anxiety and stress. The controlled breathing exercises, coupled with precise physical poses, help keep your mind from fixating on whatever concerns you may have about your pregnancy and the life changes that come with having a baby. Prenatal yoga classes can also be a good place to connect with other expectant moms and talk about the experience of pregnancy.

Labor preparation

According to Debra Flashenberg, director of the Prenatal Yoga Center in New York, yoga during pregnancy can help strengthen the muscles of your pelvis and uterus. Prenatal yoga also focuses on breathing control, which can be particularly useful for women planning to give a natural or home birth.

Alleviating pregnancy pain

Nausea, swelling, constipation, back pain and sciatica — the downsides of pregnancy — may also be alleviated with yoga during pregnancy. Robin Sale, founder of the Whole Birth Yoga program, notes that these types of discomforts have responded favorably to regular prenatal yoga practice.

When to start

Flashenberg suggests beginning prenatal yoga as soon as possible after you become pregnant, but you can begin in the middle of your pregnancy too. Be sure to tell your instructor how far along you are in your pregnancy. You may need to modify certain poses if you are experiencing morning sickness, for example, or avoid certain positions as you approach your third trimester.

Prenatal yoga classes and equipment

If your city doesn’t have a dedicated prenatal yoga studio, look for individual prenatal yoga classes offered through traditional studios or gyms. Prenatal yoga books and DVDs are other options if you would rather practice at home, but be sure to let your doctor know about your exercise plans. You’ll need stretchy, comfortable clothes and a good yoga mat. Depending on the class you take or DVD you use, you may also need a bolster and blocks.

Next steps

After your baby arrives, you might also want to try postnatal yoga classes to get your body back in shape and keep your mental health in check. Many studios also offer "mommy and me" yoga classes, so your baby can get in on the action too.

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