When you are pregnant, you may find it challenging to stay active and fit. Fortunately, many yoga studios have begun offering a type of yoga explicitly geared toward expectant mothers. Prenatal yoga is not only useful in helping you stay active while pregnant, but it could also help prepare you for labor and ensure your child’s health. Want to learn more? Below, we’ve outlined the benefits of prenatal yoga and what you can expect when taking a class.
How is prenatal yoga beneficial?
Prenatal yoga instructors are certified in various techniques that can help prepare you for childbirth. The classes typically rely on a multifaceted approach based on three primary pillars:
- Mental focus and clarity
- Controlled breathing
Studies have found that prenatal yoga could help reduce stress and anxiety, a common symptom of pregnancy. Prenatal yoga could also help improve your sleep. Perhaps most essential is the fact that prenatal yoga could increase the flexibility, strength, and endurance of the muscles you’ll most likely need during childbirth. Additionally, researchers also believe that the practice could help decrease shortness of breath, nausea, headaches, and lower back pain.
Lastly, if you are feeling lonely while pregnant, prenatal yoga could provide you with a social group. While you may have supportive friends and family, there’s a strong likelihood that none of them are currently experiencing what you’re going through. Taking prenatal yoga classes with other pregnant mothers allows you to connect with women who are sharing experiences similar to yours in a warm, welcoming environment.
Many pregnant mothers often view prenatal yoga as one of the least active forms of yoga. It is significantly less strenuous than, say, hot yoga. Hot yoga and other rigorous practices are dangerous for pregnant mothers because they can spike a mother’s temperature, jeopardizing the baby’s health.
Other yoga practices that could be relevant or worth taking include restorative yoga and hatha yoga. Before participating in a prenatal yoga class, we recommend that you talk to the instructor to learn more about what the course will entail and steps you’ll go through during class sessions, you should also talk with your obstetrician.
What can you expect from prenatal yoga classes?
Before beginning prenatal yoga, we recommend that you set realistic goals. Don’t overdo it – most doctors recommend approximately 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity five days per week when pregnant. Combining a short prenatal yoga session with moderate walking could prove useful in helping you keep in shape as you prepare for childbirth.
The prenatal yoga class should be calm and relaxing. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to have a normal conversation during a prenatal yoga class. If you find yourself out of breath, you’re likely pushing yourself harder than necessary. Similarly, make sure that you are cool and hydrated during class. The instructor should keep the room well-ventilated, and you should consume plenty of fluids during your session.
One of the primary areas your instructor will focus on is your breathing. Your instructor will likely teach you calming breathing techniques, such as breathing into your nose slowly and deeply. Many mothers find that the lessons they learn here help them handle contractions and shortness of breath, which is common during labor.
Your instructor will then likely take you through a series of stretching and posture exercises. Don’t be surprised if your instructor encourages you to use props, such as a cushion or blanket. Your instructor will assist you to stretch areas of the body that hold a lot of tension during pregnancy, such as the neck and shoulders.
They’ll work with you to achieve full range of motion when stretching. You’ll also likely be encouraged to bend and stretch from the hips to help maintain a normal spine curvature. Additionally, you probably won’t do any twisting movements or stretches during this class.
Toward the end of your class, your instructor should take you through a cool down and relaxation period, where you will rediscover your resting heart rate and a calm breathing rhythm. Your instructor may play music and encourage you to listen to your breathing and connect with your child. The goal of the class should be to leave feeling relaxed and calm.
Choose the proper equipment
It’s critical that you choose the proper equipment for your yoga sessions. One of the essential things you’ll need to consider is the type of mat you select. You’ll want to choose a mat that provides plenty of cushioning. Even if you are an experienced yogi, you could find it more difficult than usual to maintain positions. Choosing a mat that is perhaps a bit stickier than usual could help.
Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that your mat is made of all-natural materials. Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on your mat, you won’t want to be around any chemicals that could harm your child, such as PVC. Look for products that are biodegradable, such as mats made from:
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you protect your immune system when practicing prenatal yoga. Sweat can act as a breading ground for bacteria, which you’ll end up dripping onto your mat during the workout. Additionally, if you are practicing in a yoga studio, you’ll subject yourself to the germs and bacteria of others. During pregnancy, your immune system is in flux, and you could find yourself more susceptible infections.
One of the best ways to keep yourself healthy when practicing prenatal yoga is with Yoga Mat Spray. These sprays are entirely natural and come in a variety of scents. They are a safe, effective way to sterilize your mat and protect your health when practicing prenatal yoga.
Have You Tried Prenatal Yoga?
If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant and tried prenatal yoga, we want to hear from you! What were your experiences with the classes? Did you find that they helped you with your childbirth? Please feel free to share your experiences in our comment section below with others who may soon be preparing for a child. We look forward to hearing from you!