Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Posh Mama, Zen Baby: How To Safely Do Yoga During Pregnancy

If you liked the first post from our pregnancy, and soon to be "mommy", series, Posh Mama, Zen Baby, we have more information-rich posts coming soon. Our Editor-in-Chief, Sarah, will be taking various courses at Shining Light Prenatal Education & will blog about every class! We are thrilled about our new partnership with Shining Light and to get started, we have a q&a session with the studio’s owner, Deena Blumenfeld about yoga and what is safe during pregnancy.  

Right before I found out I was pregnant, I was on a hot yoga kick. During my first trimester, however, I didn’t want to exercise at all, which luckily for my ego, is a common thing.  But, once I got my energy back at the beginning of my second trimester and tried to go straight back into hot yoga, I had an instructor tell me certain types (especially hot) of yoga could be potentially harmful to my baby, which scared me a little. Exercise, in general, can be scary during pregnancy because overdoing it can be dangerous. I knew that if I did yoga while pregnant, or prenatal yoga, I would need to find a class to go to.  I'm happy to have found an informative, friendly yoga studio, Shining Light. For anyone else out there who is in this boat of wondering exactly what is safe when it comes to yoga for the preggy girls, here is the full scoop from Deena.

1. What are the do's and don'ts of prenatal yoga? As mentioned above, I had an instructor tell me that hot yoga combined with some of the poses could be harmful to my pregnancy--which poses are safe and which are not?

Many women have fears and concerns regarding exercise and pregnancy. There are a lot of myths out there about what you can and can't do when pregnant.

Your other instructor is right with regards to hot yoga. When pregnant, if the body's core temperature is raised it can cause miscarriage, though the likelyhood is small. Hot yoga falls into the same category as a jacuzzi, hot tub or sauna. They all can raise your core temperature. So, hot yoga is contraindicated during pregnancy.

As for the "more difficult poses", if you were doing them before you got pregnant, generally you can continue doing them into your first trimester (sometimes later, too). Headstand, handstand, wheel pose, etc are all OK if you were regularly practicing them. Now, however, is not the time to learn these poses, nor will you find them taught in a prenatal yoga class.

Any pose that takes a lot of balance or an inversion should be approached with caution in pregnancy. As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts and you'll need to be more cautious about falling. The weight of the baby, in an inversion, can put pressure on your lungs making it harder to breathe. It's important to listen to your body. Remember, when pregnant your body is changing daily.

Deep back bends, such as wheel pose, can put strain on the rectus abdominus (the line between the 6-pack). Many pregnant women, due to the intra-abdominal pressure of the growing fetus, experience a mild-moderate split in the muscles. This is called diastsis recti. Most of the time, this self-corrects postpartum.  We don't want to aggravate this split, and deep back bends can do just that. So, once your belly is showing, it's time to skip these poses.

Big twists are also out during pregnancy. No baby likes being wrung out like a wet towel! Twists in the upper back are just fine.

Do come to prenatal yoga when your first trimester fatigue and morning sickness are over. Do respect your body and your baby; both are changing daily and your needs and abilities will shift as well. Do focus on hip openers, squats, low back releases, etc. Do practice pranayama (yogic breathing) and meditation. These components of yoga are often overlooked in favor of the physical postures. Your mental and emotional state are keys to having a healthy mama and baby.

Poses to do at home: Cat/Cow, low lunges, tailor pose (butterfly legs), and wall squats.

As always, consult with your doctor or midwife before beginning your prenatal practice. Should a complication arise during your pregnancy, confirm with your care provider that it is still appropriate for you to practice yoga.
2. What are the benefits of yoga throughout pregnancy? Does it take away some of the common pains that people often associate with pregnancy, like back pain or even labor pains?

The benefits of prenatal yoga include greater flexibility and stamina. The breathing you learn in class directly translates to labor. It helps clear your mind and better allows for focus. Meditation can help you process the fears, doubts and emotions you have. There is also a social benefit to coming to prenatal yoga - you get to meet other pregnant mamas! It is huge to have community support. Many of my students have found lasting friendships and baby play-dates with their fellow prenatal yoga students.

Yoga can help with the common aches and pains of pregnancy. Low back pain, sciatica, hip pain, upper back pain and fatigue can all be helped through regular yoga practice.  I often hear, "Thanks, I feel so much better!" at the end of class.

Will yoga take away labor pain? No, but it will help you learn how to better move your body so you can cope effectively with the pain or discomfort of labor. Many of the postures we practice in class are labor and birth postures.

3. Does doing yoga help your body prepare itself for labor? How?

Yes! As I said above, many of the postures we practice in class are labor and birth postures. By practicing regularly (1-3x a week) you will find that your body more naturally assumes these postures in labor. You will be able to maintain them longer and they will be more comfortable for you. The breathing you practice helps you maintain a rhythm during labor, gives you focus and keeps you calm. Yoga during pregnancy helps you become more flexible physically and emotionally. It prepares us body, mind and spirit to birth the baby we carry inside. Yoga also helps with postpartum recovery. When you are in better shape going into labor, your recovery is generally easier.

To sign up for classes with Shining Light Prenatal Education or to learn more, you can visit their website at shininglightprenatal.com.

Image: FitPregnancy

1 comment:

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