Yoga – The word is commonly used nowadays because of the several benefits that one can derive from practicing yoga. Yoga is not just related to physical exercise where you need to turn and twist your body at different angles, but it includes the complete knowledge of the way of living. The Yoga experts say that it is the way of life. Through yoga, one can unite the soul (individual consciousness) with the spirit (universal consciousness). The most beautiful aspect of practicing yoga is that it supports and helps you to sustain regardless of your age and the strength. Regular practicing of yoga helps in bringing the remarkable changes in the lifestyle. Regular practice of yoga will not only help you to get relief from the chronic illness but will also help you to lead a happy and healthier life. You can feel the significant reduction in anxiety and stress.
Apart from following yoga in the daily life, practicing yoga during pregnancy has numerous benefits. Yoga helps in relaxing the mind as well as in keeping the body healthy. During pregnancy, women suffer from different mood swings, sickness, fatigue along with pain like cramps in legs and other parts of the body. Yoga exercises help in easing out the difficulties faced by the women during pregnancy, thus making the period of nine months comparatively easy. Yoga also helps in the smoother delivery of the baby.
Yoga for pregnant women is slightly different from the routine yoga. The aim of yoga during pregnancy is to help the mother to deliver the baby in the hassle free manner and to avoid any health complications. Like pregnancy that is divided into three phases – the first, second and third trimester, the yoga for pregnant women also differs for the three phases. Before starting with yoga during pregnancy, women must look back at their medical history so that they can know what type of exercises will be beneficial for them. It is always better for a pregnant woman to start yoga exercises under with prior medical consent. The focus of yoga during pregnancy is to strengthen the pelvic muscles that help in enhancing the womb space, thus, allowing the fetus a healthy growth. Yoga also helps in releasing the endorphins also known as the “happy hormones” which helps in keeping the mother positive and energetic throughout the day.
Yoga for pregnant women normally consists of the following exercises:
1) Twisted Pose or Vakrasna: For the twisted pose, stretch your feet in front of you while sitting erect. Now, inhale and raise the arms to your shoulder level with the palms facing downward direction. Exhaling try to twist your body to the right direction rotating your waist and along with this, move your hands and head in the same direction. Inhale while bringing your body to the original position with the arms parallel to the shoulders. Now, repeat the exercise for the left position.
Benefit –the twisted pose helps in the exercising of the organs like hands, spine, legs, and neck.
2) Chair Pose or Utkatasana: in this exercise, you have to stand straight with your feet apart from each other for about 12 inches. The feet should also be parallel to one another. Now, inhale for about two seconds while raising your arms and heels to the shoulder level. At the same time, your palms should face downwards. Now, exhaling slowly try sitting in a squat position preferably on your toes. However, sometimes sitting on toes becomes difficult, especially during the pregnancy. At that time you can normally stand with the feet on the ground. Now, exhale keeping your hands down and heels down.
Benefits – the Chair pose helps in strengthening the pelvic and thigh muscles.
3) Angle pose or Konasana: the third yoga exercise that pregnant women should do on an regular basis is ‘angle pose’. In angle pose, you need to stand straight while keeping your feet apart from each other for about 24 inches. If not feeling comfortable, you can also take the support of the wall for this exercise. Keep your elbow straight and raise the right hand. Inhale while stretching upwards and bend towards the left side. Put down your hands, exhale and come back to your original position. Now repeat the exercise for the left side.
Benefits– the angle pose helps in increasing the waist flexibility. It also helps in controlling the fat in the waist region.
4) One leg Ham’s pose or Paryankasana: in this exercise, you need to lie down on your back and straighten your legs. Your knees should be together. While breathing normally, try to fold your right leg to your posterior side from your knee. The main task here is to hold this position for as long as you can do it comfortably. Repeat with the other side.
Benefits – the main benefit that you can get from this exercise is the strengthening of the pelvic, thigh and abdominal muscles.
5) The pose of extended hand to big toe or Hast Panangustasana: in this, you need to lie down on your back with legs straightened and the body should be in one line. Keep your hands in T-position with the palms facing the downward direction. Now, slide your right leg towards the right side but do not put pressure on your body. If possible, you can try to hold your right toe with your right hand. Slide your leg to bring your body back to the original position. Repeat the exercise with the left side of the body.
Benefits – this exercise will help in strengthening the pelvic as well as thigh muscles.
6) Butterfly pose or Bhadrasana: yoga for pregnant women also include the Bhadrasana. In this exercise (asana), you need to stretch your legs fully while sitting on the mat. The feet should form “Namaste” while the legs remain in contact with the mat. While sitting erect, put your hands on your knees or thighs. Continue with this position till feel comfortable. Repeat this exercise.
Benefits– It helps in strengthening the pelvic region as well as the inner thighs.
7) Mountain Pose or Parvatasana: sit straight on the mat and while inhaling, raise your arms and then join your palms to form “namaste”. Elbows should be straight. Hold this position for 3-4 seconds. Repeat the exercise for three-four times.
Benefits– this exercise improves the posture of the body and provides relief from a backache.
8) Stick pose or Yastikasana: in this exercise you need to lie down on your back keeping your legs straight. Your body should be in one line with knees and feet together. The feet should point in the upward direction and hands should rest on the sides. While inhaling raise your hands. Rest them on floor stretching upwards and simultaneously push the toes out. While exhaling, raise the hands and bring the body back to normal posture. Repeat this exercise.
Benefits– the benefits of stick pose include correcting the posture of the body and releasing the body tension.
The benefits of yoga for pregnant women are countless. The prenatal yoga not only helps the mother but have several positive effects on the baby also. Some of the benefits of yoga for pregnant women include:
- Yoga during pregnancy helps in increasing the stamina as well as the strength of the mother. Strength is necessary so that the woman can easily carry the weight of the growing baby.
- Yoga helps in balancing the body physically. With the growing baby, the stress increases on the muscles of the regions like chest, hips and yoga helps in relieving the tension in the body.
- Yoga in pregnancy helps in calming the nervous system. The deep breathing helps the nervous system to go into parasympathetic mode, thus, helping the body to relax.
- Yoga helps in getting prepared for the labor as your body becomes adaptable to being uncomfortable while performing the different exercises.
- Yoga helps in increasing the circulation in muscles and joints.The improved blood circulation reduces the swelling and enhances the immunity of the body.
- The practice of breathing during yoga can be of great help during the labor for pregnant women. The conscious breathing helps in maintaining the heart rate as well as the blood pressure.
Yoga helps in improving the posture and allows your body to handle the pressure of the growing baby by providing strength to your muscles and joints. In all, yoga helps pregnant women to get prepared for the birth of the baby by reducing the worry, increasing the body awareness and teaching them to be adaptable towards the new situations.
Always remember to avoid forward bending exercises and those that may put pressure on the abdomen. It may be noted that when a pregnant woman feels uncomfortable due to pain, over- exertion or for some other reason during an asana (exercise), she should immediately stop the same. On the basis of pregnancy trimesters, certain exercises should be avoided as they cannot be carried during all pregnancy months e.g. ‘Angle Pose’ should not be continued after seven months of pregnancy period. Don’t forget to carry out the above exercises without prior medical consent.