You're taking your prenatal vitamins and folic acid. You've made notes in the margins of the latest "What to Expect" book. You created an account on "The Bump" and are excited about your registry and list of potential names. But how are you keeping the anticipation of baby's arrival from creating stress in your mind and tension in your body?
Prenatal yoga has the capacity to ease physical aches and pains, offer emotional resiliency through breathing techniques, and educate expecting moms about pregnancy and birth. This multi-dimensional approach is inspired by the renowned Prenatal Yoga Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where I was fortunate enough to complete my prenatal teacher training. So how can yoga encompass all of these facets? Let's break it down.
Physical Aches & Pains
Back pain. Swollen feet. Fatigue. Heartburn. These are only a few of the many ailments that can plague a woman throughout her pregnancy. Luckily, it doesn't have to be that way! The postures and sequences taught in a prenatal yoga practice can help ease common discomforts by addressing the anatomical and hormonal changes that take place in a pregnant woman's body. A qualified and educated prenatal yoga teacher can guide you through poses that will help with your specific ailments, while emphasizing deep breathing and safe alignment.
Emotional Resiliency & Breathing Techniques
Aside from the physical toll birth takes on the body, bringing new life into the world requires emotional strength as well. Another aspect of prenatal yoga is learning to develop emotional resiliency and courage, and using the breath as a tool to access that innate power.
During a prenatal yoga session, moms may encounter poses that are intense and potentially uncomfortable. By breathing through a sensation-filled pose and staying calm despite the physical stress, moms can learn to develop this skill. When we are able to use the breath to consciously relax, we trigger the "relaxation response" in our nervous system. This reduces tension in the body, which in turn lowers perceived pain levels. In short, through conscious breathing, mom can conserve her energy and actually lower her perceived pain during each contraction. Of course, this can be directly translated into labor, when giving up or "tapping out" in not an option. Who wouldn't want to master that trick?
Pregnancy & Childbirth Education
By no fault of their own, women in the United States are extremely under-educated about pregnancy and childbirth. I have personally seen expecting moms spend 10x more energy researching the best stroller than the best childbirth education class. The reality is that moms and families need to advocate for themselves and seek out knowledge surrounding their experience.
My goal is to integrate childbirth education and practical tips into my prenatal yoga sessions, so that moms feel empowered and confident about bringing their baby into the world. I strive to stay updated on current birth trends and topics, and maintain a network of professionals to refer to for questions that lie outside my realm of expertise.
Please note: I am not a medical professional. You should always consult your health care provider before starting any exercise program.