Every day you get attracted from all the possible sides by the innumerable pictures of beautiful women on the beach, in the sunset doing some incredible yoga postures. Facebook is full of them, Instagram is bursting with them, and any women’s magazine has them in sports section.
And with the body positive trend you see plus size women or girls with small kids doing it on the same impressive level. What about you? Does pregnancy mean that you’ll have to miss out on this art/spot/lifestyle?
Not at all! But let me tell you first what yoga is, pretty selfies aside.
What is yoga?
Maybe you already know that yoga is not only stretching and striking the pose as the fitness centers and gyms often make it look. The word “yoga” is Sanskrit and can be interpreted as “discipline” or “union”.
Coming from India around 2000 years ago, the Yoga Sutra is a philosophical guidebook for the modern yoga practice. The main aim of it is uniting the body, spirit and the mind, which can be achieved by following 8 limbs:
- Yamas (restrains).
- Niyamas (observances).
- Asana (postures).
- Paranayama (breathing).
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses).
- Dharana (consentration).
- Dhyani (meditation).
- Samadhi (absorption).
So this is the idea of the true yoga in a nutshell, but we are going to explore the possibilities of the more simplified version of this ancient spiritual method and concentrate mostly on the third limb – asana.
Definition of asana
Maybe you are a bit confused like most people, who do not see much difference between yoga and stretching or Pilates. First of all, yoga exercises include alignment, strength and balance, so you don’t just become more flexible, but also more aware of your body and more powerful all together.
Also, a big part of yoga is about the breathing, the yogi calls it “conscious breathing”. Slowly inhaling and exhaling in a certain way you help your body relax and lower the demand of oxygen which always increases with rapid breathing during workout.
With this comes more accuracy in coordination of your movements and as a result less possibility of injuries. Plus, while keeping you calm, the conscious breathing skill helps you to clear your mind and have the positive outcome for your nervous system as well as for the body.
So, now when you have an idea of asana let’s move our attention to: “What is pregnancy yoga?” and “Why is yoga good for pregnancy?”.
Pregnancy and yoga
Can you do yoga while pregnant? Definitely yes, but first you need to ask your doctor whether you have any contradictions or nor.
Now, let’s talk about benefits of pregnancy yoga. Being pregnant, you can benefit from different aspects of Yoga practice:
- Physical activity.
- Breathing exercise.
- Meditation technics.
I hope you are already aware of the importance of maintaining certain level of physical activity during your term. And yoga class can be a suitable activity for almost any level of fitness.
So, the next important topic is associated with the benefits of doing regular yoga during pregnancy.
Benefits and contraindications
Is yoga good for pregnancy? Yoga for pregnant ladies has a number of useful postures that will help you to keep your strength and endurance levels.
Also some of the pregnant woman yoga exercises can help to avoid such common problems as constipation, morning sickness, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and shortness of breath. This might sound a bit too good to be true but yoga at the time of pregnancy, with its breathing and aligning mind and body techniques helps the future mother to clear her mind and avoid any depressive states or nervous breakdowns which a hormonal woman is always at risk of.
And, after all, the healthier a mother the healthier a baby, so your unborn child will benefit of it as well. But even if pregnancy yoga is a highly recommended activity for the mothers-to-be, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns; there are precautions to take and postures to avoid.
The basic contraindications for prenatal yoga during pregnancy are the same as for any physical activity:
- heart or lung disease;
- risk of preterm labor;
- premature dilation;
- preeclampsia (pregnancy-induces high blood pressure).
You also should keep in mind that not all of the asana are suitable for pregnant women. So it’s your responsibility to find a proper yoga for pregnant women class with the teacher trained to coach future mothers and not to enroll in general yoga class even if your pregnancy has just started and you don’t feel any different than before.
What are the different yoga styles?
Searching for pregnant yoga class you might meet many new Sanskrit words. If you have no idea you should be choosing anusara or hatha. Let me explain what are the most popular yoga styles you might encountered and show some pregnancy yoga images.
But before I start I want to mention that more information about postures you can obtain from the article “Yoga exercise for pregnant ladies”.
It is one of the most popular styles nowadays and considered as safe yoga for pregnancy. Hatha yoga is a basic system consisting of asana, breathing techniques and meditation, slow and well-paced.
In States it’s widely used in stress management programs. This would be a perfect style for you if you’re doing your first steps in yoga during your pregnancy.
As it follows from the name, is more about strength than relaxation or meditation. It’s an American take on yoga originating in the 90s, when it was first introduced in gym fitness programs.
Power yoga is a workout which will make you sweat because you constantly have to hold the whole weight of your body and in your situation, let me remind you, it is growing non-stop. So if the original yoga is more of a philosophical system which also includes matters to perfect your body, power yoga is a modern sportive routine.
If you haven’t done it before pregnancy – you shouldn’t start with this style, and if you were practicing it often – you might be able to continue, but certainly not doing the same postures and not at every stage of your pregnancy. Consult your doctor and make sure the teacher knows about your pregnancy.
It was created in 60s, it’s focus is mainly on endurance, flexibility, balance and strength. The postures are generally held a bit longer than in any other kind of yoga.
Another feature which makes Iyengar yoga to stand out are different pieces of equipment, like blankets or cushions which are used for less flexible persons (elderly, disabled), letting more categories of people to be included in practice. It is also one of the best routines for recovery after injury or an operation.
Iyengar yoga is considered as safe yoga during pregnancy, because its gurus are trained to work with people with diverse limiting conditions and know how to adjust to any level of fitness of the student.
It centers on spiritual accents. There will be a lot of meditation, chanting, breathing exercises and talking about awakening.
If you’re a person who is interested in Kundalini yoga this will be a thing for you, though it’s benefits as a workout are questionable.
It is a system that’s been developed by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It is athletic and physically demanding practice, focused on detox of the muscles and organs through sweating.
Ashtanga yoga is reached by execution of series of progressive and continuous postures. This style is certainly not for beginners and would not be recommended for pregnant women.
Bikram yoga (or hot yoga)
It was founded by Bikram Choudhury, an Olympic champion in weight lifting. It’s a general fitness practice, created to perfect endurance, strength, flexibility and lose weight. The main difference from other yoga styles is that Bikram yoga is using the 35-40 C degree temperature in the room for better flexibility and as a result decreases the risk of injuries.
The suitability of this yoga style for pregnant women is questionable. Though on specialized bikram yoga websites you will read that it’s totally safe, the doctors don’t seem to agree, presenting the researches about dangers the overheating presents for pregnant women. So, maybe, stay on the safer side and choose other yoga style, all the more there is no lack in them.
Also we have interesting article “What type of yoga is best for pregnancy”, where you can find useful advices that will help you to make a right choice.
Time to start
Is it safe to do yoga while pregnant? It is generally recommended for beginner to start the yoga class for the first time when you already have reached your second trimester, so around 14 weeks.
Is yoga safe during pregnancy first trimester? This period has higher risks of miscarriage and you don’t want to discover if you’re predisposed for that.
Also many women feel bad at this time due to the severe morning sickness and cannot endure longer classes. Though if you’re an experienced practitioner and do not have any complications you may continue exercising, modifying your routine into early pregnancy yoga if you feel any weaker than normally.
Can I do yoga during pregnancy second trimester? Yes, it is the best time for yoga as well as any other physical activity.
If your doctor allows it – you can enroll in the class even if you’ve never done any sports before in your life. Just keep in mind that you need specialized prenatal classes, even if you have a lot of experience in yoga – let the teacher decide what is not safe for your condition. Also, you might be interested in the article “Yoga postures for pregnancy second trimester”.
How to do yoga during pregnancy third trimester? This period may bring some complications with it’s huge belly and overall tiredness. We recommend you to read this article “Yoga exercises for pregnancy in the third trimester”, in order to know more information.
You can continue doing yoga while pregnant and if you still like it. However, keep it low, never overdo it or push yourself.
If you’re determined to keep going for classes you’ve been to before being pregnant or do pregnancy yoga at home at least keep in mind that there are certain poses you shouldn’t do. This includes:
- deep forward bends;
- deep twists;
- lying on your back;
- poses which use your abs power;
- extreme backbends;
In order to receive more useful information about dangerous postures – read the article “Which yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy?”. In addition, we have the article “What type of yoga is best for pregnancy?” will help you to make the right choice according to your personal preferences.
After all being said, yoga is a highly recommended type of workout during pregnancy. It helps to keep a woman active, flexible, strong and enduring, but only if done properly.
As any physical activity, being overdone or done without certain limitations or precautions during pregnancy can harm you and your baby. So check with your doctor if you have no contraindications, find a proper pre-natal class and enjoy!