A practice uniquely designed for pregnancy, Prenatal Yoga can help build physical and emotional strength for moms-to-be and their growing baby. Positive effects begin in the antepartum period and extend through the time of delivery and beyond. These effects can shape the entire pregnancy experience helping the mother become more in control of her body and mind.
Traditionally, the term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit term “yuj”, which can be translated as “union” or “connection”. Prenatal Yoga strives to deepen the connection of the mom-baby dyad by bringing about a conscious awareness of the processes interconnecting the two. Just as the food and nutrition you consume influences the growth and development of your baby, the things you feed your mind are also of paramount importance to this developing new life. Prenatal Yoga helps channel a positive, healthy, life-force energy that can flow freely between mom and baby.
The physical effects of Prenatal Yoga begin by rendering the mother more resilient throughout pregnancy, and ends with facilitating a smooth delivery and postpartum recovery. Stretching focuses largely on strengthening the back and pelvic floor muscles, which can alleviate the all-too-common back pains in pregnancy, while a strong and limber body aids with labor and allows for more effective pushing during delivery.
A study published in 2012 in the medical journal Preventative Medicine determined that a regular, physical yoga practice during pregnancy can decrease the risks of gestational diabetes, helps lower blood pressure and decreases the risk of having a low-birth weight baby. The MayoClinic also published studies demonstrating Prenatal Yoga can improve sleep and decrease nausea throughout pregnancy.
The breathing aspects of Prenatal Yoga, also known as Pranayama, can help bring peace and clarity to the mind, decreasing the amount of stress hormones being produced in the body. Studies have shown a Prenatal Yoga practice can alleviate anxiety and reduce the risks of depression and post-partum depression.
Having a yoga practice provides a safe, quiet space for mom to bond with her unborn child, which can improve the mother-baby relationship well into the child’s life. Though the physical practice may not be appropriate for all expecting mothers, such as those at risk for preterm labor, the meditative and breathing aspects of yoga make it an accessible practice to all those seeking its benefits.