Yoga - The Perfect Pregnancy ExerciseLori Ramsey
Yoga has been around for centuries and in some cultures, it is considered the only option for pregnant women.
Yoga is a practice - learned relaxation, breathing and exercise to help people to center, relax and strengthen themselves. It is a great stress reliever and muscle stretcher, helping to prepare the body for birth. Yoga prepares the muscles to do their best job during labor and delivery. And the benefits learned will help you to relax after the baby is born as well. Many women who take up yoga during pregnancy - will continue to practice it throughout the rest of their lives.
Because yoga is so gentle, it is considered one of the safest prenatal exercise programs. If you follow the program, easing into each set of exercises the benefits far out weigh any risks (if any) posed from prenatal exercise. Aside from the benefits of helping with labor and delivery - yoga helps to ease many of pregnancy's discomforts. Sciatic pain, round ligament pain and even morning sickness can be relieved through the relaxation and stretching exercises.
As with any exercise program, always consult with your physician or midwife before starting. Yoga is considered very safe for pregnant women. The first thing you learn in yoga classes is breathing techniques. (Even if you are forbidden to exercise during pregnancy - the breathing exercises in yoga can be safe to learn and will help tremendously with labor and delivery.) The yoga exercises consist of standing and stretching, sitting with your back straight and stretching while also incorporating breathing and relaxation techniques. Squats and side-lying stretches help to prepare for birth. Hands and feet (all fours or crawling position) exercises help to relieve the back. There are many stretches and positions that feels good to the pregnant mom - relieving tired and sore muscles, while strengthening them.
There are yoga positions to avoid during pregnancy -such as lying on your stomach or back. These can be done after the baby is born. However it is safe to do these exercises up to the 4th month of pregnancy - before the baby has gotten too big and heavy. Also while doing the stretches, be sure to bend with the knees and not the back. Always keep your back and pelvis straight.
Some experts recommend to combine yoga with walking to increase the cardiovascular system functions. This will aid in gaining strength and helping the heart to be a better pump - something that is definitely needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Ask around in your community as to who may be a good yoga instructor. Find out if they can help you with learning "pregnancy or prenatal" yoga exercises. Some people hold special prenatal yoga classes. If there is no one in your community who teaches yoga, you can find books and video tapes that explain it very well. Occasionally you can find yoga classes on television - just be careful not to practice the positions that could harm you during pregnancy. And be sure to clear all exercise programs with your physician or midwife before starting a new regimen.Lori Ramsey is a mother of two children ages 4 and 2. I am currently pregnant with my third child, due to be born in early November.
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