5 Reasons Why You Should Start Doing Prenatal Yoga Today
1. YOU CAN FIND SUPPORT FROM OTHER PREGNANT WOMEN
Wondering how you’re going to find other like-minded mamas with whom to raise your children or discuss things later that are not related to pregnancy and birth? Prenatal yoga is a chance to open up and share a common experience with a community of women, it is the start of your mommy network. Looking for doula referrals? Wondering about where the best prenatal massage can be found? Believe me, there is no better resource than the pregnant women in your area. This is your New Moms group, your kid’s play dates, your mommy spiritual community. These are the women from whom you’ll get and give hand-me-downs, who will attend your kid’s birthday parties, and who will remind you to get back on your mat and/or meditation cushion when things get tough.
2. PREPARATION FOR LABOR
Prenatal yoga emphasizes breathing, stretches and strengthening moves that help your mind and body prepare for the amazing (sometimes exhausting) journey of childbirth. A woman's ability to birth a baby is directly related to her ability to let go of gripping in her muscles. Poses like a deep squat (malasana) can help relax and open the hips, providing control over strong, toned pelvic and hip muscles so they won't tense up when under stress. Prenatal yoga's other benefits during labor include helping increase a woman's physical stamina if labor lasts a long time. Infact, a regular yoga practice has also been shown to shorten the length of labor by as much as two hours. The increased stamina comes from the physical discipline required to hold postures long enough to get strength-building benefits. It also comes from the mental focus that results from yoga's concentration on breathing exercises that help the lungs expand to their full capacity -- which can feel challenging in late pregnancy.
3. GET BETTER SLEEP
It is common to let your mind wander to the anticipated sleepless nights before the baby arrives. In fact, more than 75% of pregnant women start experiencing sleep disturbances during pregnancy. Waking in the middle of the night is an unfortunate side effect of changing hormone levels and the overall inability to get and stay comfortable. But prenatal yoga can help women get to and stay asleep.
By moving through a progression of focused breathing, gentle stretching and postures to a cool down, yoga is a natural stress-reliever. By helping to reduce stress during the day, our bodies are more in sync with our natural sleep patterns. Regular yoga practice helps regulate our sleep rhythm – making it easier to go to sleep each night. Additionally, prenatal yoga poses help relieve tension from the body – making it easier to stay asleep. As pregnancy develops, the center of gravity shifts, abdominal muscles weaken and the lower back takes the burden, resulting in lowerback pain and tension. Prenatal yoga can help gently strengthen abdominal muscles through poses and can help alleviate the pressure on the lower back.
4. REDUCE PREGNANCY STRESS AND ANXIETY
Prenatal yoga is hugely beneficial in reducing stress and stilling the mind. In fact, prenatal yoga has been shown repeatedly to increase feelings of wellbeing during pregnancy. According to Harvard Health, “by reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga modulates the stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, reducing cortisol production and easing respiration.” Other studies highlight that regular yoga sessions not only improve mood and lower cortisol levels during pregnancy, but can also lower rates of postpartum depression.
5. MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT GAIN DURING PREGNANCY
Like all physical activity and exercise, yoga keeps you active, which can help manage your prenatal weight gain. Gaining too much or too little weight can lead to various issues during pregnancy and after you give birth, which is why going at a steady pace is best. The practice of yoga postures contributes to weight control by improving metabolism and other body functions. As a bonus, a regular yoga practice works in decreasing stress and increasing mindfulness, which can assist in reducing emotional eating.