Yoga For Pregnant Women
One of the main focuses of yoga is on centring the mind as well as the body. Yoga should ideally be practiced every day to encourage a calm outlook and can really help to minimise stress. Obviously, this is a great benefit for pregnant women, who are likely to encounter stress and anxiety whilst carrying their child. Furthermore, many yoga moves and positions are very gentle and concentrate on balance and focus far more than strength or stamina – this makes it the perfect for of exercise for expectant women. Some experts even argue that yoga helps to increase muscle flexibility, which in turn can help to reduce pain during labour.
During the first trimester, most yoga movements and positions are suitable for pregnant women, as long as they are carried out in a careful, gentle way and the woman is very careful not to over-exert herself. Into the second and third trimesters, many yoga movements that involve bending will become too difficult.
Many yoga movements that are suited to pregnant women are similar to the yoga moves that a beginner will practice. These are gentle, but encourage flexibility and help to stop muscles and joints from becoming uncomfortable.
1 – Starting from the Vajrasana Position (knees bent, legs tucked under, facing forwards). Lift the shoulders up to the ears in a slow and controlled manner and lower equally carefully. This movement loosens neck and shoulder muscles, relieving tension but also readying the body for further exercise. The sitting position is also very comfortable at many stages of pregnancy.
2 – Starting from the Shavasana Position (lying flat on the back, with legs straight and apart). Raise both arms simultaneously until they are on the floor above the head. Keep them straight at all times and rise and lower them very slowly. Each upwards and downwards movement should take between 10 – 15 seconds. This movement can help focus and concentration, whilst keeping the mind clear and calm.
3 – In the Supine Position (lying flat on the back, but with legs together and less straight), lift the leg about 1ft into the air and make small, slow rotations with the entire leg for around 20 seconds. Repeat with both legs a couple of times. This position really helps flexibility in the legs, which can be important during the third trimester as more strain is placed on the legs.
Some yoga positions are not so suitable for pregnant women, as they may involve bending or holding the body up from the ground. However, some gentle yoga positions that are great for pregnant women include:
Stand on left leg, with right leg bent so the foot rests on the left knee. Stretch arms straight up, place hands together. Swap legs after a few minutes. This position can strengthen the ankles in particular, as well as the thighs and back.
Stand with left leg in front, at a right angle and right leg stretched straight out behind. Stretch arms straight up above head. This position improves flexibility in the limbs, increases stamina and concentration, as well as being ideal to relieve back pain.