Importance of Exercise for Pregnant Women
Almost all women who are pregnant are faced with statements like “don’t walk too fast” or “don’t be reckless, or lie down”, redirecting them to spend the entirety of the next nine months with the word “exercise” blacklisted from their dictionaries.
Contrary to popular belief, gynecologists and obstetricians advise against such sedentary behavior unless there are complications relating to the pregnancy. In fact, they recommend at least twenty minutes of light to moderate exercise to pregnant women.
Moderate exercising like brisk walking or yoga for instance, when done as per the guidelines provided by a gynecologist/obstetrician - are meant to improve one’s fitness to help cope better with the pregnancy.
It is estimated that the weight-gain potential per trimester ranges between 10 and 12.5 kilograms, in addition, the spine, joints, pelvis, and lower back are under a lot of pressure during the course of the pregnancy, which is few of the many reasons why it can be difficult for some women to relax and enjoy the process.
The heart and the breathing rates become erratic in some cases. To keep such issues at bay and to ensure a healthy development of the fetus, it becomes important for the expectant mother to be healthy physically, and in turn, mentally.
Routine exercising can help manage breathing and heart rate, keep blood pressure in check, ease the pressure on the joints and back, cater to constructive weight gain by reducing the build-up of unnecessary fat, help combat nausea, and lower obstetric concern prior to labor.
Yoga and Pregnancy: Importance of Yoga in Pregnancy
Time and again, studies have proven that physical stimulation in the form of light or moderate exercises is necessary for decreasing the risk of complications as well as ensuring good health for the baby.
One of the best ways to keep the mind and body healthy during pregnancy is to practice yoga.
This slow paced, breath-focused, mindful activity is something expectant mothers can indulge in throughout the course of the pregnancy, albeit with the guidance of an expert and upon consultation with doctors because not all kinds of yoga are safe during this time, and safety comes first.
Yoga encourages you to listen to your body, pay attention to it, connect with it, and more importantly inculcate self-love and presence of mind.
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Prenatal yoga, when done with specified modifications, has been found to strengthen abdominal muscles, regulate sleep patterns, reduce stress and thereby reduce the chances of complications caused due to hypertension, regulate hormones, decrease nauseous tendencies, ease pain, and cut-down the risk of premature labor by a significant margin.
More importantly, yoga is essential for the formation of a deeper bond between the mother and the fetus developing inside her, which goes a long way in establishing a healthy emotional relationship between the two.
Yoga Tips for First Trimester
The first trimester is perhaps the most fragile time in the entire pregnancy. After the first trimester, do not practice any asanas facing down or on your stomach
Some important things to keep in mind before opting for yoga in the first trimester include:
Learning more about the changes you’re going through, bombarding the yoga instructor and your doctors with questions to help you learn more about why and how certain poses are beneficial for you and the developing fetus.
Take it easy
Most pregnant women misunderstand the concept of doing any kind of exercise and end up exerting themselves too much. This causes more harm than good. Do not exert yourself in any situation. If there’s an asana that is difficult to manage, it is okay to skip it or keep it within the confines of your bodily comfort.
A major part of your yoga practice is dependent on how many babies you’re carrying. With respect to that number, it is often advisable to steer clear of deeper forward folds nearing the end of the first trimester. It is also important to avoid jumps and closed twists.
These include most standing poses like Warrior I-III, Extended Triangle, Tree, and Eagle poses; seated poses like Marichi’s Pose, Bound Angle, and Revolved Head of the Knee, and stretches on the back.
Yoga Tips for Second Trimester
By the time your second trimester starts, you’ve gotten into the groove of your yoga practice and it is now time to carry that knowledge forward with modifications catering to the growth and safety of the baby. Some important things to keep in mind include:
Yoga Tips for Third Trimester
This is the time when the baby starts to move about and you find yourself preparing for labor. Yoga done during this time helps strengthen abdominal muscles to ensure a safe and easy delivery. Some important things to keep in mind include:
Various Asanas for Pregnancy
Any pregnant women must take into consideration her health history before she begins with yoga, especially the first timers or those with irregular routine.
There are various asanas that bring positive energy to a mom and deters mood swings. A lot of asanas are known to relieve back pain, belly discomfort and for promoting overall wellbeing.
Tadasana or The Mountain pose
It is a great standing yoga pose as it steadies your breathing, strengthens the spine and relieves pains throughout the body. This asana can be practiced any time of the day during your first and second trimester.
Benefits: Strengthens the spine, promotes overall well-being
Utthita Trikonasana or The Extended Triangular pose
It relieves backache while strengthening the muscles. It allows fresh blood to flow throughout your body, thereby eliminating the toxins from the blood and lymphatic system. During the first trimester, this asana also helps in dealing with morning sickness.
Benefits: Relieves back pain, eliminates toxins
Bhujangasana or The Cobra pose
As the name suggests, this asana resembles the raised hood of the cobra. This should be practiced empty stomach in the morning for as long as you feel comfortable, however, not for more than 30 seconds. This strengthens the spine, decreases the stiffness from the back, improves flexibility and elevates the mood. To be practiced only in the first two months of pregnancy.
Benefits: Relieves lower back pain
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior pose I) and Virabhadrasana I (Warrior pose II)
These asanas help the spine to restore its health, relieves back pain so that it can take the weight of the growing uterus. It also opens the chest and strengthens the legs. This asana should be performed only during the second trimester.
Benefits: Strengthens legs, relives back pain
Vakrasana or The Twisted Pose
This pose strengthens your spine, stretches your neck, hands, and leg joints, and gently massages the abdominal organs. All this helps relieve back pain.
Benefits: Relieves belly and back pain
Dandasana or Stick pose
This pose relieves all the tension in the back and hips. It prevents complications in the reproductive organs and keeps them functioning well. Practice it in the morning on an empty stomach and clean bowels. If you don’t get time in the morning, do it in the evenings after a gap of 4 to 6 hours from your last meal.
Benefits: Releases tension from back and hips
Janu Sirsasana or Head to Knee Pose
It stretches your hamstrings and groin, increasing their flexibility to ease childbirth. It stimulates your liver and kidneys, helping them function better to cope with the increased bodily requirements. It is good for pregnant ladies suffering from insomnia.
Benefits: Improves digestion, stretches and strengthens hamstrings and groin
Marjariasana or the cat and cow pose
This yoga pose strengthens the core by gently wrapping the muscles around the baby. While performing this asana during pregnancy one should stretch the abdomen only mildly. It also increases the flexibility of the spine, shoulder & neck, and improves the flow of blood in the body; hence better circulation. It also helps ease the back pain.
Benefits: Strengthens abdominal muscles, improves blood circulation
Balasana or the child pose
Practicing this pose during pregnancy relives the tension in the muscles of the spine, pelvis, and hips. Take slow and deep breaths to feel fully relaxed in this pose. This is a safe pose for all trimesters and is used for focusing on breathing.
Benefits: Reduces stress and fatigue
Sukhasana or the Easy Pose
Helps in relieving all the stress. Gives back a stretch, broadens the chest and calms the mind. Works like meditation. It improves digestion and betters your breathing, keeping your child hale and healthy.
Benefits: Relieves indigestion, reduces stress
Baddha Konasana or the Butterfly Pose
This should be practiced empty stomach or with a gap of 4 to 6 hours post meal. This asana strengthens and stretches your inner thighs, groin, and knees and comes handy during childbirth. It also eases out digestive problems and keeps your tummy clutter-free. Baddha Konasana helps improves the health of ovaries, keep the blood pressure in check and relaxes you by opening your lower back.
Benefits: Strengthens pelvic floor muscles, stretches lower back