How Can Prenatal Yoga Help?
Prenatal yoga is one of the best ways to stay active during pregnancy. Yoga uses strengthening exercises, stretches, and breathing exercises to help women feel more centered, healthy, and focused. In fact, prenatal yoga can improve sleep, reduce stress, and decrease uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms like lower backaches, nausea, and headaches. Consider these 3 yoga exercises to help stay active during pregnancy.
1. Stretch with the chair
Women experience changes in mobility during pregnancy. Women who may have been able to touch the toes may find that the baby bump gets in the way or that putting the head below the heart causes lightheadedness. Don’t be afraid to use props. Try stretching the back out by using a chair. Standing a couple of feet away from a sturdy chair, fold forward until the hands reach the chair. The back should stay straight. Take 4-5 deep breaths or as long as is comfortable.
2. Cat and cow pose
This movement can be particularly beneficial for women experiencing back pain. Cat and cow poses allow the belly to hang, which can ease tension on the back. Start by kneeling on all fours, with the wrists aligned under the shoulders and the knees aligned under the hips. Take a deep breath in and drop the chest toward the floor while looking up to the ceiling. On the exhale, draw the chin to the chest and arch the back like a cat. Continue alternating between the postures for 5-10 breaths.
3. Bound angle pose
This simple stretch opens up the hips and encourages good posture. Sit on the floor and bring the soles of the feet together, as if in a butterfly shape. Let the knees fall open to the sides. If desired, women can bring blankets or blocks underneath the knees for extra support. Women may even hold on to the feet and give a gentle calf or foot massage. Take a deep breath in and then start to fold forward gently, only as far as the belly allows comfortably. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Are there times to avoid yoga?
Women should speak with a healthcare provider before beginning any new exercise plan, especially during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is safe for most women, but there are cases when women who have an increased risk of preterm labor or other complications should avoid yoga. Pregnant women also need to avoid specific poses, such as lying on the belly or the back. As pregnancy progresses, women can use props and modifications to accommodate any changes or discomfort. For more information about staying active during pregnancy, speak with a healthcare provider.