We’re all told to seek out safe exercises during pregnancy. Back in my day, this meant walking to work on a good day and walking to the subway on a bad day. I pretty much gave up the gym and did minimal stretching. Once my babies arrived, and I could find time to try and exercise, it took quite a while to regain my strength and flexibility. Looking back, I wish I had turned to yoga! I found yoga about two years ago and even though I don’t go as much as I would like to, it invariably lifts my spirits and makes for a good day. I feel refresed, strong, and clear-headed. This week, my good pal Micky Morison, founded of BabyWeightTV, makes a case for yoga as a pregnancy fitness program. Moms-to-be, read on and feel good!
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Why Yoga For Pregnant Women Makes Sense
I loved my prenatal yoga routine, especially in the last trimester when other forms of exercise became less comfortable or impossible. I found it rejuvenating and relaxing at the same time, and I’m certain that my yoga practice helped me to have the peaceful birth experience I was hoping for.
Whether you have a big belly or are just getting used to being a mom-to-be, yoga is a safe and effective way to exercise while you are pregnant, from week 1 to week 41. Here are the 4 major benefits of making prenatal yoga part of your regular routine:
1. Stretch tight muscles: Yoga helps to eliminate common aches and pains and helps you feel better in general by lengthening the muscles that naturally tend to tighten during pregnancy. Common muscles that get tight in pregnancy are the hamstrings, hip flexors, calf muscles, low back and neck muscles. You will likely stretch all these in a yoga class.
2. Connect with your body: Yoga poses require you to find alignment and consciously activate the appropriate muscles to hold the position. This helps you to tune in to your body’s position and connect with your body. There is no time more important to be present and connected to you body then during pregnancy and childbirth.
3. Connect with your breath: Yoga is as much about breathing as it is about positions. Connecting the movement with the breath is key. Learning to connect with your breath can help you to relax throughout pregnancy and helps you to stay calm during labor. These benefits will last long after baby comes, too, if you continue to practice yoga.
4. Prepare your body for childbirth: Hip-opening positions help to open the pelvic outlet, preparing the body for an easier childbirth. Engaging the core muscles help to prepare the body for pushing. In general, loosening tight parts and strengthening weak parts help to prepare your body for the awesome feat that is birth.
I advise moms to join a prenatal yoga class which offers the added benefit of connecting with other expectant moms, or do an online class or video like this one on your own schedule right in your living room.
Micky Marie Morrison is a licensed physical therapist and a certified perinatal fitness educator, and author of Baby Weight: The Complete Guide to Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness. Recently Micky launched BabyWeight.TV™, an online video series for moms and moms-to-be, featuring more than 100 prenatal and postpartum fitness videos.