"Yoga will stand you in good stead right through your pregnancy, after your baby is born and for the rest of your life."
Hall & Freedman

Yoga in Pregnancy

pregnant woman

Practising yoga during pregnancy may help you in the following ways:

  • It can ease many of the common discomforts of pregnancy e.g. constipation, backache, fatigue and varicose veins.
  • It will increase your sense of well being and control during pregnancy.
  • Lower your weight gain.
  • A larger placenta.
  • It may lead to a shorter labour and easier delivery (no proof!).
  • A speedier recovery after the birth of your baby.

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Things to remember during your practice:

  • During the first trimester take it easy. This is the time when the pregnancy is becoming established. Avoid any strain in the pelvic area.
  • Avoid extremes of joint flexion and extension.
  • Avoid exercising in the supine position after the 1st trimester as it can reduce blood flow to uterus.
  • No lying on the back in the 3rd trimester - or earlier if any problems. Use a modified recovery position for relaxation.
  • Avoid exercises which could lead to loss of balance.
  • Stop when fatigued - don't exercise to exhaustion.
  • Avoid prolonged periods of motionless standing which can reduce blood flow to the uterus.
  • If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or thyroid disease only exercise with your health care provider's approval.
  • Take care not to overheat during exercise.
  • Stop immediately if you experience breathlessness, dizziness, headaches, muscle weakness, nausea, chest pain or tightness, uterine contractions or vaginal bleeding.
  • If just starting an exercise program you should start slowly and be careful not to over exert yourself.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • During pregnancy your body uses carbohydrates more quickly. Exercise also increases the metabolism of carbohydrates. This can lead to low blood sugar reactions during exercise. Increasing calorific intake to shift your carbohydrate balance is very important for pregnant athletes.
  • Only do single leg lifts. Keep the lower leg bent with the foot on the floor. This lessens the demand on the abs. and lower back. Avoid double leg lifts as it puts strain on the abdomen.
  • Always do a little less than you are used to doing and don't hold your breath.
  • Don't do kapalabhati or bhastrika pranayama.
  • Avoid sit-ups and postures that put pressure on the uterus.

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Useful Tips

  • When sitting always try and keep your pelvis higher than your knees.
  • Poor posture blocks the transfer of weight through your lower back to your hips, legs and feet. This results in strain on the lower back, pelvis and knees. When standing or walking don't arch the lower back. Lengthen the lower back downwards so that your pelvis supports your abdomen from underneath and your baby is carried close to your spine as the weight is transferred to the ground.
  • Pregnant women require more oxygen that non pregnant women, even at rest. As pregnancy progresses women have to work harder to breathe as the enlarging uterus crowds the diaphragm. Therefore less oxygen is available. A pregnant woman's tolerance for strenuous exercise decreases as pregnancy progresses.
  • Lying frequently, but not always, on your left side encourages your baby into the most favourable 'left anterior' position with the baby's spine on the left side of the abdomen.
  • Sitting poses open up the pelvis. Standing poses strengthen the legs enabling you to carry the child well and push strongly during labour.
  • During the last few weeks of pregnancy wide kneeling stretches allow you to stretch the spine with the coccyx free from pressure and baby benefits from a maximum amount of space in the pelvis. Resting in a supported kneeling position ensures that the baby has the widest space in which to enter the birth canal.
  • Most mothers-to-be have no problems resting on their backs. However, for about 15-20% of women, lying on their backs causes the weight of the uterus to compress the vena cava, the major vein that returns the blood from the lower body to the heart. If you experience this compression, you will most likely feel a tingling or numbing sensation in your lower or upper body. Importantly, lying on your back may be comfortable one day or one week and not the next. Speak to your doctor about this concern. The safest alternative to lying on your back is a modified recovery position.

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Do not practice yoga during your pregnancy if you experience:

  • Preterm labour in this or previous pregnancy.
  • Obstetrical complications.
  • Persistent vaginal bleeding.
  • Incompetent cervix.
  • Ruptured membranes.
  • Foetus not growing as it should.
  • Toxaemia (high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy).
  • Expecting twins. Women who are pregnant with more than one foetus have a higher risk of complications including preterm labour.

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Practising Yoga with Anne

Mum's to be are welcome at any of my classes. I do not run separate classes exclusively for pregnant women.

If you have never practised yoga before then please wait until your pregnancy is established (week 15) before starting.

Contact me if you would like to join one of my classes; arrange a private lesson or discuss practising yoga with me.

Recommended reading

"Yoga for pregnancy, birth and beyond" by Francoise Barbira Freedman. ISBN 1 4053 0056 6

"Easy Exercises for Pregnancy" by Janet Balaskas. ISBN 0 0 2 861661 8

"Preparing for Birth with Yoga" by Janet Balaskas. ISBN 1 85230 431 6

"Yoga for Pregnancy" by Francoise Barbira Freedman and Doriel Hall. ISBN 0 7063 7667 6

"Baby Yoga" by Francoise Barbira Freedman. ISBN 1 85675 165 1

"Postnatal Yoga" by Francoise Barbira Freedman with Doriel Hall. ISBN 1 84309 411 8

These books are available from the yoga section of Anne's Bookshop on Amazon

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