Yoga During Pregnancy
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While it is important to work at raising your heart rate regularly with aerobic exercise, yoga can play an important part in your pregnancy exercise regime too. Yoga focuses your attention on breathing, a technique which can be very helpful during labour. It also helps you to relax, which is perfect for pregnant women. Yoga when practiced regularly is thought to make pregnancy easier and child birth faster, due to the combination of techniques which help you to focus your thoughts, maintain a high level of flexibility, and to manage your breathing. As if all this wasn't enough to motivate you, yoga is widely reported to improve your emotional well-being, and who needs an emotional lift more than a woman going through the roller coaster ride that we call pregnancy?
Is it safe to do yoga during pregnancy?
Yes yoga during pregnancy is safe, provided you attend a class where the instructor is qualified to teach pregnant women. It is important that you check this, because not all yoga poses (positions) are safe during pregnancy, and a qualified instructor will be able to advise you properly.
Can I do yoga when I'm pregnant even if I've never done it before?
Yes, but you will probably benefit more from attending a yoga class specifically designed for pregnant women, rather than one for more varied abilities. These are widely available. Contact your local leisure centre and keep an eye out for posters in your local surgery or antenatal clinic.
There are a number of different types of yoga, all of which are considered safe to do during pregnancy (provided your instructor is qualified to teach pregnant women) apart from one, and that is Bikram yoga. Bikram yoga is conducted in an artificially heated room and getting overheated during pregnancy can be dangerous. You will have to avoid this until after you have had your baby.
As with all exercise, make sure that you are well hydrated and have had an energy boosting snack prior to starting a class. If you find that you feel uncomfortable, dizzy, nauseous or breathless during the class then stop immediately. Take care getting up from the floor; make sure that you rise slowly to reduce the risk of dizziness.
Is yoga enough exercise to do when I'm pregnant?
Unfortunately it is not. You will need to include additional workouts during your week which get your heart rate up such as walking or swimming. Yoga provides some very important benefits to your fitness, especially by increasing your flexibility and blood circulation. However, you need to do aerobic exercise as well to ensure that your fitness and stamina levels don't drop too much during your pregnancy. This is no bad thing as having a varied workout routine will help to keep you motivated.
What precautions do I need to take when doing yoga during my pregnancy?
- As with all exercise during pregnancy, consult your GP before starting yoga to make sure that they agree it is appropriate for you and your pregnancy.
- Ensure that your instructor knows that you are pregnant and that they are qualified to instruct pregnant women.
- As with all sports and exercises, avoid positions that require you to lie flat on your back once you are beyond the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy as this restricts your circulation.
- Follow advice from your instructor about changing your poses as your pregnancy progresses. Your ever growing bump will mean that some poses need adjusting to counteract your changing centre of gravity.
- Stand near a wall, bar or chair to help yourself if necessary. Your sense of balance deteriorates during pregnancy so giving yourself something to hold on to will reduce your chances of an accident.
- Listen to your body. You are more prone to over-stretching when you are pregnant because of the hormone relaxin which relaxes your muscles and joints. Take each exercise gently and slowly and build up your ability very gradually. If you find something uncomfortable then stop. Your instructor will be able to give you an alternative pose to use.
- If you experience any pain or vaginal bleeding whilst doing yoga or any other exercise then stop immediately and seek medical advice.