This article first appeared in Indus Age magazine on January 31, 2017.
Caroline Bagga, Founder of Mother Nurture Yoga, Sydney’s Leading Pregnancy Yoga School, talks about the importance of staying active during pregnancy and the many benefits of Pregnancy Yoga.
We all know that a healthy lifestyle is important. When you are pregnant, your baby is completely relying on you so it’s even more important to stay active and have a healthy pregnancy – physically and emotionally.
The experts all agree: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK and The Australasian College of Sports Medicine all say that moderate-intensity exercise is important for pregnant women.
Many women turn to yoga when they are pregnant, and for good reason. It is the best all-round form of exercise and the one recommended by many Midwives and Doctors. When practiced correctly it is safe and beneficial for both mum and baby.
Here’s 12 reasons why you should do yoga when you are pregnant:
- Feel more energetic. Growing a baby is tiring, especially in the first and third trimesters, but there is still work to be done so you need energy, which yoga will help to restore.
- Relax, reduce stress and anxiety. According to experts, everything the pregnant mother feels and thinks is communicated through neurohormones to her unborn child, just as surely as are alcohol and nicotine. So relaxation, positive thinking and connection can nurture a healthier and happier child during pregnancy. Yogais highly effective in endorphin production, which lifts your mood and makes you feel great.
- Sleep better. Indigestion, insomnia and hip pain are common in pregnancy and prevent you from getting the rest you need. Yoga can help with all these conditions.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Gestational diabetes is particularly common in Indian women and puts you in a higher risk category. A healthy diet is critical but a regular yoga practice will also help you maintain a healthy weight which reduces your chance of developing Gestational diabetes.
- Build strength. Yoga poses strengthen the legs and core to prevent and ease lower back problems so you can carry your growing baby with ease.
- Reduce back pain and constipation. The weight of your baby can cause issues like back pain and constipation. Yoga will stretch out your upper and lower back and your internal organs, reducing these problems.
- Feel prepared and confident for an empowering birth. Yogic breathing techniques and positions for active birth will build your confidence ready for the birth of your baby, increasing your chance of a natural delivery.
- Improve your posture and help to position your baby correctly. Prenatal yoga is designed to assist with correct positioning of the baby – making the labour as easy and smooth as possible!
- Build your pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy and birth places your pelvic floor muscles under enormous strain. During a yoga class particular poses help you to become familiar with your pelvic floor so you can learn how to activate these muscles correctly – and importantly learn how to relax them for giving birth.
- Get back into shape more easily after giving birth. Keeping active during your pregnancy will make it easier to bounce back after giving birth.
- Start bonding with your baby. A yoga class gives you special time to turn your attention inwards, learning to listen to and connect with your baby. Guided visualisations and touching your bump are an important part of prenatal yoga.
- Connect with other pregnant women. It’s lovely to be able to share this special journey into motherhood with other women from your local area. There is often time to chat with the other ladies before or after the class to share your experiences, tips and form new friendships. Being a new mum can be isolating so these friendships are important.
So what exactly happens in a pregnancy yoga class? A typical Mother Nurture Pregnancy Yoga class includes meditation, pranayam (breathing techniques), asana (yoga poses), and relaxation. It’s a great combination of getting a gentle work out, relaxing and preparing for labour and birth.
Perhaps you did some yoga a long time ago, or you’re a complete beginner and feel nervous about joining a class because you’re not very flexible, or you’re not sure what to expect. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In fact many women try our classes for the first time when they are pregnant. Going to a specific pregnancy yoga class like the ones offered by Mother Nurture Yoga is essential as a general yoga class is not tailored for pregnant women. You’ll find pregnancy yoga is gentle, suitable for beginners and all stages of pregnancy.
“When is it safe to start?” is one of the most common questions. Some ladies choose to wait until after the 12 week scan but the sooner the better before your bump gets too big! If in doubt, discuss your specific circumstances with the instructor.
Are you newly pregnant and tired?
The first few weeks of pregnancy are incredibly exciting, sometimes scary but mostly just exhausting! After all, you are growing a little person now and your energy is being diverted to that job, which can leave YOU feeling completely drained. Take some time out to nurture yourself with these restorative yoga poses which will have you feeling re-energised within a matter of minutes!
Child’s Pose (Balasana) – Kneeling on the floor, take your knees wide and bring your feet together, sit back on your heels, rest your upper body on a bolster or pile of pillows.
Legs up the wall – Place your bottom against the wall and slide your legs up the wall. Rest your hands on your belly to connect with your baby, or out to the sides for a chest opener.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) – Lying flat on your back, bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to drop out to the sides. Put some pillows under your knees for support. Ideally you want your back to rest on an elevated bolster, but in your first trimester it is ok to lie flat on the floor. Rest your arms out to the sides, palms of the hands facing up.
Please note the second and third poses are not suitable for the third trimester.
Caroline Bagga is mum to three beautiful girls aged 5, 2.5 and 5 months. She is the Founder of Mother Nurture Yoga, Sydney’s leading Pregnancy Yoga School. Check out the timetable to find a Pregnancy Yoga, Pregnancy Pilates, Postnatal Yoga or Baby Yoga class near you, join a Retreat or purchase a copy of their DVDs to practice at home: mothernurtureyoga.com.au
If you’d like to try a Pregnancy Yoga class you can join Caroline at the Living Well Festival in Parramatta for a free class in Centenary Square at 9am on Saturday 18 February. Caroline will also be giving a free talk about the benefits of Pregnancy Yoga in Parramatta Town Hall at 11am on 18 February.