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Hatha Yoga & Pregnancy

by
author image Jayne Yenko
Jayne Yenko started writing professionally in 1988. Her articles have appeared in the "Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune," the "Wisconsin State Extension" and at Westwood College Online. She holds a Master of Arts degree in education with an emphasis in home economics from the University of Iowa.
Hatha Yoga & Pregnancy
Hatha yoga provides relaxation. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Yoga is a popular form of exercise. As such, special classes for pregnant women are offered to maximize the benefits of yoga during this special time. The mix of breathing, stretching, balancing, breathing and relaxation are helpful in maintaining and getting into shape. This mix can also help you feel better mentally, as pregnancy can sometimes cause a feeling of uneasiness. The poses in yoga can tone your muscles, increase stamina, and even help prepare you for labor.

For Your Health

Breathing and relaxation techniques taught in yoga classes can be helpful with labor pains. Many of the yoga poses strengthen the pelvic floor muscles as well as the heart and lungs. It can improve blood circulation and aid in the movement of food through the digestive tract. It helps with proper posture, reducing backache. It allows for the relaxation of tense muscles. Yoga can aid in good health for mother and the unborn child. It lessens the effects of overweight and depression. It can even make labor easier and shorter.

Be Wise

Yoga is gentle exercise for pregnant women; however, there are some precautions that should be observed. Poses that require you to lie on your back or abdomen, particularly during the last trimester, should be avoided. Inverted poses can cause the baby to press on your lungs, making breathing difficult, so those too, should be avoided. The hormone relaxin helps to make you more flexible during pregnancy, so be careful about stretching too far. Avoid deep abdominal twists. These can squash the internal organs, including the uterus, and may be uncomfortable. Also avoid jumping moves and any breathing techniques that require holding your breath. Bikram or hot yoga should be avoided, unless you have been doing hot yoga before pregnancy. It is more strenuous than Hatha yoga and is done in a room with a temperature of 105 degrees, increasing the risk of overheating.

Prenatal Yoga

Perform standing poses like the Warrior series; specifically Warrior II. They increase your leg strength and according to Yoga Journal boost your courage. Poses can be modified for pregnancy and help prepare you for the birthing process. Cat pose is usually performed in conjunction with Cow. This dual effort has you rounding and caving your back while on all fours on the floor. By doing the Cat portion only, you can help move your baby into position. Cobbler's pose, which is performed seated on the floor with the soles of your feet together while your legs fall to the sides, will open your groin area and prepare you for birth.

Your Options

Hatha yoga has many benefits for pregnant women, not only the physical benefits, but the mental aspects can be especially helpful during a time when your hormones appear to be out of control and cause all sorts of mood changes. Joining a prenatal yoga class can introduce you to other pregnant women and give you a sense of community. Look for prenatal yoga classes in your area, or let your regular yoga instructor know you are pregnant for assistance in modifying the poses. If yoga classes aren’t available in your area, there are many DVDs available in bookstores and online. Free online yoga classes, videos and downloads are also available.

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