Flexibility, weight loss, cardiovascular and circulatory health, prevention from injury and mental well-being are just the short list among the many benefits of yoga, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Plus, with more than 100 different schools of yoga, there is something to fit everyone’s needs – including if you happen to be expecting.
Prenatal yoga is a safe option for those who are pregnant and seeking ways to relax and stay fit. However, the exercise can also help prepare a woman for labor as well as promote the baby’s health, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Research suggests that prenatal yoga can improve sleep; reduce stress and anxiety; increase the strength, flexibility, and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth; and decrease lower-back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and shortness of breath.
Prenatal yoga classes also provide the opportunity to meet and bond with other pregnant women, who can help prepare an expecting mother for the stresses that come with being a new parent.
The Mayo Clinic outlined several things women can expect to be involved in a typical prenatal yoga class:
- Breathing:Prenatal yoga breathing techniques could help reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy and work through contractions during labor.
- Gentle stretching:You’ll gently move different areas of your body through their full range of motion.
- Postures:You’ll gently move your body into different positions aimed at developing your strength, flexibility and balance.
- Cool down and relaxation:At the end of each prenatal yoga class, you’ll relax your muscles and restore your resting heart rate and breathing rhythm.
To protect both the mom and baby’s health during prenatal yoga, it’s suggested that you first speak with your doctor to see if it’s a good idea. Prenatal yoga may not be right for you if you are at an increased risk of preterm labor or have certain medical conditions.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends that women set realistic goals, pace themselves, stay hydrated, avoid certain poses that would cause a strain on the baby and don’t overdo it. If you experience any pain or other warning signs during prenatal yoga, you should contact your doctor immediately.