Prenatal Yoga 101

Prenatal yoga classes are a gentle and relaxing form of exercise that can be ideal for pregnancy. As long as you listen to your body, prenatal yoga is good for the pregnant woman. Always be sure to let your instructor know that you are pregnant. He or she will make any necessary adaptions.

Prenatal yoga, by contrast, is a form of yoga where the poses have been specially adapted to suit the needs of pregnant women. While the exact adaptations will depend on the teacher and the form of yoga, prenatal yoga will likely focus on opening your hips, stretching your lower back, chest, abs, and shoulders, and strengthening your thighs.

It may include the following:

Kegel exercises: You’ll probably spend some time doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening these will make it easier to release them while in labor, and will also tighten them up after birth to prevent incontinence.

Modified Balance: many poses in yoga require a combination of balance and strength. With the difficult balance poses, you are at risk of falling over. To prevent any risk of injury to the baby, make sure you do these poses while holding onto a rail or banister or against a wall.

More gentle twists: Deep twists from the belly compress the internal organs, including the uterus. Instead, twist more gently from the shoulders. Remember to be gentle, and don’t push it!

Less abdominal work: Poses that are purely abdominal strengtheners should be avoided. Your abs need to be able to soften so they will be able to stretch to make room for the baby.

Fewer backbends: In general, during pregnancy, it’s best to avoid deep backbends. However, if you performed these poses easily before the pregnancy, you may continue to do it in the first trimester if it feels good to you.

Below are a few prenatal yoga poses that are well suited for pregnant women:

Mountain Pose: The Mountain Yoga Pose promotes the experience of stillness, strength, relaxed power, and immovable stability associated with mountains.

Standing Side Stretch Pose: The Standing Side Stretch is another Yoga Pose with two lines of energy radiating outward from your center. This is a simple Yoga Posture with a wonderful stretch in which one line of energy reaches upward from your belly and outward through the arm, and one line travels downward through the legs.

Warrior Pose: The Warrior Pose stretches and strengthens the arms and legs. It increases stamina, improves balance and concentration, and can also relieve backaches. If you are suffering from diarrhea, high blood pressure or neck problems, you should take extra caution practicing this pose.

Hero Pose: This serves as the initial position for several Asanas. It strengthens the arches of the feet, stretches the ankles, and improves posture. It is ideal for people who have flat feet.

Standing Spread Leg Forward Bend: Practicing the Standing Spread Leg Forward Fold can strengthen and stretch your inner and back legs and your spine.  If you have lower back problems you should avoid doing the full forward bend.

Seated Forward Bend: Learn how to do this properly to relax your body and mind, stretch your hamstrings, shoulders, and spine, relieve stress, and improve your posture and concentration.

Prenatal yoga classes can be ideal for the well being of the mother and baby. The relaxation poses and postures used in prenatal yoga classes will develop core strength and flexibility. The emphasis placed on breathing and relaxation during prenatal yoga classes will also help prepare for the challenges of labor. Keep in mind that poses may need to be adapted to the mother’s stage of pregnancy. Make sure to tell your yoga instructor what stage you are in your pregnancy before your start your prenatal yoga classes.