Stay strong, stable and mindful during pregnancy with yoga
Whether you already have an established yoga practise or completely new to yoga getting on the mat is sure to support you throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
Yoga is often thought of as stretching and in a way it is. But it is so much more… Here are some of the benefits that are particularly useful for the expectant mum.
As the baby and the uterus grows there is less space for your other internal organs. The diaphragm’s natural movement becomes restricted which is one of the reasons pregnant women can feel breathless. In yoga we stretch the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) through movement and breath creating space to breathe. We open across the chest and the pectoral muscles as the chest and abdomen gets heavier. And we lengthen and strengthen the muscles along the spine. We are creating capacity for the lungs to breathe deeper, we receive oxygen and stay energised.
We also have to support our body by creating strength. Whilst pregnant and during breast feeding the body releases relaxin a hormone which supports the body to be flexible and “stretchy” by relaxing the ligaments. Very useful as the body changes. However to stay safe and not over stretch we need strength and stability. In yoga we use muscular and skeletal alignment to support otherwise vulnerable joints. This can help prevent pelvic girdle pain or pelvic instability.
The pelvic floor is under a lot pressure as the baby grows. The pelvis is our base and also the outlet from where you will birth your baby. During your yoga class you will connect to pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them. Strong muscles stretch better and heal easier.
One of my favourite experiences as a yoga teacher is to see the transformation of a woman during the stages of pregnancy. It is the perfect time to understand the more internal awareness we want to develop in yoga and in life. This happens naturally as the pregnancy advances. There is an instinctive awareness of stillness, mindfulness and awareness in body and mind which occurs in the pregnant yogini. As we start to listen to our body and breath we can easier navigate through stressful times. A very useful skill during pregnancy, labour and postnatal recovery.
A prenatal yoga class can in many ways be like your regular yoga class. We practise standing poses to strengthen the leg muscles and the gluteals (buttocks). We need this as the core is now the home of your baby. We modify some of the poses you already know to accommodate your growing bump. As the water element in the pregnant woman increases we embrace it with fluid movement and flow.
The yoga sessions can be excellent to support you during this transformative time, on its own, as a beginner or experienced yogini, and to supplement your other fitness training.
Anja Brierley Lange is a Vinyasa Flow Yoga teacher trained in prenatal and postnatal yoga. Her aim is to encourage students to feel empowered and her classes to be an inspired combination of physical dynamic movement, breath and meditative practice integrating creative sequencing and safe alignment. She has featured in magazines such as Om Yoga Magazine, Yoga Magazine, Now Mum & Baby and blogs for familiesonline.
- Vinyasa Flow Yoga Instructor
- Pregnancy and Postnatal Yoga
- Personal training in yoga