Here’s a post from girlfriend Tara Lee about the benefits of yoga during pregnancy. I caught up with Tara when I was in London recently and was blessed to check an abundance of mothers and babies during her enormously popular yoga classes.
Tara Lee knows the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy and newborn babies and helps her clients find great wellness chiropractors. Have a read of this post which offers terrific reminders about ‘getting in tune with our body in preparation for birth’ and take a look at her fabulous yoga DVDs…
Why do women practice yoga during pregnancy? What are the benefits and does it actually help with labour and post natal recovery?
Many women instinctively feel more connected to their bodies during pregnancy and more concerned with looking after themselves now that they have a new life growing inside. This makes it the perfect time to practice yoga even if they have never done any yoga before. The expectant mums go to yoga classes thinking that they would like to stretch a little bit, because they have a few aches or pains or because they have been told it will be good for them and their babies. They soon discover after a few classes that not only does yoga help the aches and pains to disappear, they also feel more energized and have a stronger connection to their babies and their bodies.
These stretches help to release tightness and tension from the muscles but the breathing techniques that are utilised – work on a deeper psychological level to release fears, anxieties and bring a feeling of calmness and clarity to the mind. Insomnia, sciatica, hip pain, rib pain, back ache, SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), pelvic girdle pain and headaches anxieties1 and general discomfort2 may be drastically improved with regular yoga practice.
According to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2005;11:237–44) when pregnant women practice yoga for one hour per day during pregnancy, women may be able to reduce the risk that their babies will be born preterm or of low birth weight, decrease depression and improve bonding with their baby in the womb3.
In my experience pregnant women tend to find it easier to get into the state in yoga that many advanced practitioners strive to achieve, as there is a such a strong inner connection and inner awareness during this time.
Pregnancy yoga classes remind women that they instinctively know how to move their body, to trust and have confidence that their body knows what to do during the birth, and that they need only learn to listen and move accordingly. The classes also offer tools (such as breathing techniques and positions for birth) to use during the labour that help women to feel empowered, in control and to have the right mind set to deal with whatever turn their birthing takes.
A regular yoga practice during pregnancy does not provide any guarantee of a ‘natural birth’ or ‘perfect’ birth, if anything it makes women realize that there is no such thing as the ‘ideal birth’ but that they can stay calm and open minded and embrace the experience. It helps women to develop the right mind set and to cope well when things don’t go according to plan (as so often happens).
Using the movements, breathing and sound techniques learnt during the classes can encourage the body to relax and open, supporting the labour, speeding up contractions and assisting and facilitating the whole labour process. The women who have done the yoga classes are better able to listen to their bodies, to move instinctively and trust that their bodies know what to do.
Additionally the recovery after the birth will be better for women who are fit and healthy from yoga practice throughout pregnancy. They are less likely to suffer from prolapsed organs, pelvic floor weakness or incontinence and can apply the techniques they have learnt for their labour to cope with those exhausting, stressful first months to gain energy and stay calm.
1 Little, B. C., Hayworth, J., Benson, P. et al. Treatment of hypertension in pregnancy by relaxation and biofeedback, Lancet, 865 - 867. 1984.
2 J Korean Acad Nurs. 2012 Jun;42(3):369-76. doi: 10.4040/jkan.2012.42.3.369. Effects of a Yoga-focused Prenatal Program on Stress, Anxiety, Self Confidence and Labor Pain in Pregnant Women with In Vitro Fertilization Treatment.
3 Mindfulness yoga during pregnancy for psychiatrically at-risk women: Preliminary results from a pilot feasibility study, Muzik. M, and colleagues, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Epub 2012, July 14
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