It can be very tempting to stop all exercise during pregnancy, when in fact it is more vital that you continue to remain active throughout.
Evidence highlights that exercising when pregnant helps with early symptoms (for example - nausea, feeling bloated and headaches), useful for preparing your body for labour and have a positive impact on overall mood and wellbeing. One form of exercise that expectant mothers are encouraged to take part in is pregnancy yoga.
Why Choose Yoga?
Yoga does not discriminate against your level of fitness! In fact it is a great exercise to start when pregnant because of the variety and flexibility it offers; choose between taking part in a pregnancy yoga class or exercising in the comfort of your own home by following a YouTube video or a DVD.
Pregnancy yoga is a great way to stay active whilst bonding with your unborn child. Other benefits of pregnancy yoga include better sleep, ease aches and pains, improved circulation and reduced anxiety.
Although yoga during pregnancy is beneficial, the advice from professionals is that you should refrain from taking part in yoga in early pregnancy until after your first trimester.
If you do decide to start during those first 12 weeks, it is best that you restrict yourself to relaxation and breathing exercises rather than more strenuous positions. There is no confirmed risk linking yoga, or any other exercise, to miscarriage in the first trimester, but experts advise that it is better to be safe and ease into the practice gently.Getting Started...
Pregnancy yoga is an exercise that doesn’t require you to purchase much or any additional equipment or attire. If you're new to yoga, you may find it helpful to invest in a yoga mat and a pregnancy yoga ball.
You may also find it useful to purchase a pair of comfortable (delightfully stretchy!) yoga pants which don’t just have to be worn for yoga. Many expectant mothers are reaching for yoga pants as their everyday clothing item of choice. It is easy to see why.
The pants are not only comfortable but because of their stretchy pliable design they make it easier for women to move around, because let's face it, sometimes that bump does make the simplest of moves unfathomable!
Pre and Post-natal women like to wear the pants, for exercise and regular day to day activity, especially since the pants make it easier to transition from workout wear to nipping to the shops wear or grabbing a quick coffee with friends wear and even spending quality time with your baby at the play group wear.
Most of all the pants button less and zip less design helps women to move from the various changes the body will go through during and after pregnancy without worrying about what will and won’t fit.
You should discuss starting pregnancy yoga, or any other form of exercise with your health professional to make sure it is safe for you to do so. Once cleared by your health professional, if you have been doing yoga for a while and want to continue, you should mention your pregnancy to your yoga teacher.
Pregnancy Yoga Classes
If you are a new to yoga, an ideal way to get started is to join a pregnancy yoga class. Depending on where you live, class availability can vary.
A good place to find out what is available in your area is to ask your midwife. Alternatively you could contact your local leisure centre and enquire with them if they have any information or guide you in the right direction.
Attending a pregnancy yoga class can help in more ways than one. Of course doing the exercises will help you with your body and mind, but there is also the added advantage of meeting other mums to be.
Being pregnant can feel lonely, especially if your support network is small, or you live far from friends and family, thus a yoga class is a great way to meet new people, make friends and share experiences. Knowing that you have a class to go to can help on days when you are not feeling at your best; fresh air, exercise and a bit of socialising is sure to lift your mood.
Remember to eat well before hand, take plenty of water with you and have a snack ready for after class.
Pregnancy Yoga Poses
Your yoga teacher will be able to advise which yoga movements are unsafe during pregnancy. As a guideline though, you should avoid any pose that requires:
- lying on your back (post 16 weeks)
- Strenuous breathing including holding your breath
- Stretches that put pressure on your body
- Upside down postures
- Back bends
- Strong twists.
Much of the yoga practice is ideal for preparing the body for labour. Meditation and structured breathing are ideal for helping you to manage the pain felt when contractions are progressing.
Other pregnancy yoga poses such as the warrior pose and the bound angle pose work to increase strength, stamina and blood circulation – all necessary for the birth process. Poses such as the Cat-Cow are modified allowing safe practice that is still beneficial.
Yoga poses are not designed to put your body under any strain, however if at any point you feel uncomfortable or in any pain, you should stop immediately and let your yoga teacher know.
If you are working out at home on your own, its more important to listen to your body and any signs that suggest that any particular movement or pose is causing discomfort or lead to an injury.YouTube Yoga
If you want to supplement your pregnancy yoga classes with exercise at home or you're short of time and can't get to a planned class, an ideal way to still get your daily activity in is to have a go at one of the many free follow along pregnancy yoga you tube videos.
As long as you have a wi-fi connection, pregnancy yoga on YouTube is also great to access when on the move i.e. on holiday.
There are a range of options on YouTube to suit where you are in your pregnancy and how competent you feel. If you don’t know where to start, just search pregnancy yoga within you tube and look for content that has a high view count – one mark of popularity and usefulness.
For example Tonic, a lifestyle channel has partnered with AppleYoga to teach its viewer's beginner pregnancy yoga exercises and has been viewed over 4 million views.
The NHS online content also has a 45 minute video available for beginners, requiring only a few pillows, a mat and a blanket to get in a good, relaxing workout.
Yoga Ball Pregnancy (BABYGO Yoga Ball)
You may have seen yogis using balls as part of their exercise routines. What you may not know is that the use of yoga balls in pregnancy is just as useful for use as part of their labour preparations.
However if you're looking for the perfect exercise and labour companion pre and post-partum our recommendation would be to invest in a pregnancy birthing ball. Our BABYGO Birthing ball is 5 times stronger than your average gym ball and the baby friendly design means it is one of the safest options on the market!
The ball can help mums with better sleep, improving core strength and stamina and protecting the pelvis and spine whilst carrying the additional pregnancy weight. The NHS recommends using a ball during labour contractions as the ball supports the instinctive movements of mothers and can help to ease the pain as a result.
Yoga DVD For Pregnant Ladies
If attending a pregnancy yoga class is not for you or there is no availability of classes in your area, you may find it beneficial to buy a pregnancy yoga DVD. Although there is the option of turning on your YouTube app, having a DVD to hand means you don’t need to rely on an internet connection or have to switch between videos to get a longer workout. Completing a pregnancy DVD workout also means less chance of getting frustrated when the you tub video decides to freeze or buffer!
There are a number of pregnancy yoga DVDs available on the market. It is best to read the information/description for each before purchasing, making sure the content is right for you.
A quick search online highlights that the Tara Lee range is a particularly popular DVD, making several best of pregnancy workout lists. Tara is an antenatal yoga expert and if you like her style and format, her portfolio also includes some post-natal exercises that you may be interested in.
Whatever your fitness level or range of movement/flexibility, pregnancy yoga is a great way to introduce your body to exercise and to yoga during pregnancy. Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogi, yoga while pregnant has many benefits, resulting in a stronger you, in both body and mind.