8 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga for Mama and Baby

Yoga & meditation have proven to change gene expression in recent studies. They help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, reduce stress, engage the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the body to ‘rest and digest’, improve heart function, relieve back pain, improve bone health, among many other wonderful things.

As a mommy to be, there are many healing benefits to reap from a regular yoga practice during your pregnancy. It is important to consult with your doctor before regularly practicing any type of physical activity during pregnancy. So once you get the go ahead to practice yoga, don’t just go to any yoga studio. Find one that specializes in prenatal yoga. There is an actual practice of yoga that is dedicated to the health and well-being of pregnant women and the little babies that are growing in their womb. Prenatal yoga instructors must become certified to teach pregnant women the poses that are safest during their pregnancy. When practicing under prenatal yoga instructors, you can let go of any worry or fear related to the safety of you and your baby. You can just simply let go, trust the instructor, and enjoy the healing practice.

If you live in the San Diego area, please come to the CAP Wellness Center, where we offer prenatal yoga 6 days a week under the best certified prenatal yoga instructors in the area!

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Below is a list of 8 benefits of yoga during your pregnancy:

  1. Physical strength: Yoga offers physical strength and stamina in areas that are helpful during the late stages of pregnancy as well as birth; such as the shoulders, hips, legs and back.
  2. Balance: Yoga is all about balance physically and emotionally. When you are on your yoga mat, you are able to focus on both the pranayama (breathing) and the asana (physical poses). What is most important, however, is to maintain a balance between the two so that you can reach a state of bliss as you turn off your fight or flight (stress) response, and turn on your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). As you grow in your pregnancy you may feel off balance, physically and mentally, because of the imbalances in your hormones (estrogen and progesterone especially) as well as the weight from your little one. Yoga will help you focus on your physical and emotional balance through both the breathing and the poses.
  3. Tension relief of the back and hips: As your belly grows, your hips and your spine compensate. Your spine curvature increases and your hips tighten. Yoga poses will allow you to relieve some of that intense pressure by strengthening, loosening and breathing deeply into the areas of tension.
  4. Relaxes the nervous system: From the pranayama of yoga (deep breathing), your body is given the opportunity to sink into what some call a rest and digest state. Your parasympathetic nervous system kicks on, allowing your body to rest, digest and repair itself. When you are stressed and constantly on the go, your sympathetic (or fight or flight) nervous system takes over. When your fight or flight response is on, your body has a hard time digesting and assimilating/absorbing nutrients, which is essential when you are pregnant. The increase in progesterone slows your digestive system to boot. Your immune system is also weakened and you do not get as much deep rest or sleep which is necessary to repair your mind, body and spirit. When you are pregnant, your body has to work double time for you and your little growing baby. It is important to turn on the rest and digest nervous system so that you and your baby can be as healthy as possible as often as possible. Yoga allows you to get into this zone!
  5. Body awareness and increased connection to your baby:  Yoga slows you down and allows you to tune into your body on a very deep level. By focusing on the breath and the postures that reach the depths of your muscles, it will allow you to focus on what is actually happening to you and your baby. In the depth of this awareness, you will be given space and opportunity to connect on a deeper level with your baby.
  6. Decreased edema (swelling): The physical postures combined with the deep breathing in yoga increase your circulation. As circulation of your blood is increased, swelling and inflammation is decreased!
  7. Breathing prep for labor: The idea of fast paced, hyperventilating breathing techniques during labor are long gone. It has been proven that calm, slow, deep breathing, increases focus and decreases pain. If you practice prenatal yoga, you are forming a habit of slow deep breathing to prepare for the big day. When you do a posture that can be painful as it is digging deep into an area of the body that is sore or neglected, one of the best things to do is let go, loosen your facial muscles, close your eyes, and breathe deeply into that posture. The same technique can be helpful during labor.
  8. Increased self love: Yoga instructors thank you for coming to your mat and giving yourself the time to focus on and pamper yourself. It is a time to decompress and destress from your busy day. It is a way to nurture yourself and promotes self-love! 

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A great reference to learn more information about the basics of prenatal yoga is called Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond by Francoise Barbira Freedman.

Namaste beautiful yogis.

Post by: Michelle LaRose