What Is the Fuss About Pregnancy Yoga?
Okay so you've heard that Yoga is good for pregnancy but what does that really mean?
Many women try Yoga for the first time when they are pregnant. Maybe this is why you are reading this blog post now – because you are thinking of trying it out?
Yoga is good because not only does it help you cope with the physical demands of growing a baby, it also gives you tools to help you deal with the mental and emotional challenges too.
So, lets investigate this in more detail.
Benefits for your Body
As you may guess, your posture also gets a bit of a hit during pregnancy too. Yoga helps you maintain a good posture and build better body awareness at the same time - both of which will help reduce the occurrence of chronic tension and/or pain during pregnancy and help you regain your strength and mobility after the birth.
Now for some science; there is a something known as the Tension-Pain-Fear Cycle which was discovered by a famous obstetrician called Grantly Dick-Read (who was around in the 1950’s). He watched many women go through labour and discovered that the more anxious a woman was, the more tense her body became and the more pain she ended up feeling. This then created more fear, more tension and then more pain – and so it went on.
We have already talked about how yogic breathing, visualisation and relaxation can support the physical process of labour by ensuring that the body stays in the paraysmpathetic nervous system. There are mental benefits for this as well, as these tools (and others including Yoga Nidra and Meditation) help you learn how to dampen and control the feelings of fear and anxiety, therefore preventing the Tension-Fear-Pain Cycle from taking hold. When the body remains in the parasympathetic state, labour tends to be less painful and more straightforward. It also helps your own pain relieving hormones kick in. A truly win-win situation.
Promotes bonding and connexion with your baby
Practising Yoga helps you connect to you – your body, your mind, and your soul. It also helps develop the bond you have with your baby, nurturing it way before you meet your child face to face.
You will make friends in your Yoga class with likeminded women
There is nothing better than a tribe of united women, all going through the same life changing event. When you join a pregnancy Yoga class you will be in a room full of women going through the same experience as you. Some will be first timers, and some will be expecting their second or subsequent baby. Imagine having all this knowledge, support, and expertise at your fingertips. We will all have your back and join you in the ups and downs of your own personal journey.
So, there you have it, just a few of the main benefits of practising pregnancy Yoga.
Actions To Take Now:
Breathing For Self-Healing. It has a nice ring to it but what does it actually mean?
Breathing is what we do everyday and without much attention – but if we do it well, we have an easy tool to keep us healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
An efficient breathing habit can help us improve many issues from back, shoulder and neck pain, posture issues to mental issues like stress and anxiety. It can also get us through big life events like pregnancy and childbirth and help us perform better in our other fitness interests whether it be working out in the gym or going for long walks.
Let’s dive a bit deeper.
What Does Breathing for Self-Healing Look Like?
Breathing for health basically means learning to breathe with our main breathing muscle – the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle which lies beneath the heart, level with the lower ribs. When this muscle contracts its action draws in air deep into the lungs. When it relaxes unwanted air is released from the lungs. It does this by flattening and moving down as it contracts (on the inhale) and doming inwards and upwards as it relaxes (on the exhale). It basically acts like a piston and this piston action is what brings about the many benefits of diaphragmatic breathing.
The benefits can be split into physical and mental:
The Problem With Chest Breathing
Although many of us would like to say that we breathe with our diaphragm on an everyday basis, we would probably be cheating ourselves. The reality is that most of us are chest breathers on a regular basis, which can cause the following problems:
How To Breathe Diaphragmatically. The Balloon Breath
To teach this breathing in class I often use my favourite practice tool, the balloon breath.
Let’s try it now:
Top Tips to Finding a Good Online Pregnancy Yoga Class
Are you in this predicament? You find out you are pregnant, wait for the magic 14-week milestone and then start looking around for pregnancy yoga classes. However, at the time when you really need it most, all of the face to face pregnancy yoga classes are off limit.
So, what do you do?
Well, thankfully we have technology at our fingertips. We have online pregnancy yoga classes and there has never been a more important time to bite the bullet and sign up for a class.
Pregnancy is a time of lots of ups and down both physically and mentally.
All these changes are happening daily and can at times leave you feeling as though you are losing the plot a bit. You are not, by the way - you are just pregnant 😊
The Value Of Online
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could share your experiences with someone else who will undoubtedly understand completely?
Now, if you do have a pregnant friend then that is great because you already have a comrade in arms; you can support each other.
If you don’t? Then this is where a pregnancy yoga class can bridge the gap.
I have taught pregnancy yoga classes since 2008 and have seen so many beautiful friendship groups grow as a result of women, like you attending a class on a regular basis.
In addition you get to learn how the mind and body practice of yoga can help you every step of the way through your childbirth journey and beyond – from the poses, the breathing, and the relaxation tools. Yoga can help you keep your body strong and flexible and your mind chilled and calm.
I hope you can see why a pregnancy yoga class is so beneficial and why you should consider trying an online class if you have not done so already.
How do you know which one is right for you? To help you decide, I have 4 tips:
Look at the time length of the class. A good pregnancy yoga class should be over an hour in length. If it is an hour or less, you will certainly only have time for your yoga sequence and not much else. You want a class which will also allow you time to explore the different skills and tip/tricks you will need to get through your labour and beyond. This leads me nicely to tip 2.
Look carefully at the structure of the class. Make sure that as well as the yoga component you have:
Related to the first two tips. Make sure your class has time for you to chat socially with the other participants. This is so important for online classes as this could be the only time that you get to speak to other pregnant women. Out of all the tips I think this is the most important
Make sure the teacher is qualified and look out for their testimonials. It may sound obvious, but you will get more value if the teacher is experienced in her field. Also, look out for teachers who are parents themselves. There is no greater teacher than someone who talks the talk and has walked the walk.
Ok, that is it. I hope that you find the above useful. I would like to invite you to check out my yoga class which I am proud to say incorporates all the above.
Whichever class, you choose I wish you the absolute best in your childbirth journey.
Sarah is a qualified Yoga teacher and therapist with a passion for helping learn how to use yoga and other holistic tools to self-heal and improve their health on all levels. She specialises in general and pre/postnatal yoga.