A pregnancy brings with it joy and excitement, and food cravings, erratic mood swings, and pesky pregnancy hormones. You’re constantly thinking of ways to reduce stress, while finding ways to prepare your body and mind for childbirth, almost unsucessfully. Enter, prenatal yoga. And no, it’s not a fad or a trend, but is actually a practice that’s been around for centuries.
Cosmopolitan India spoke to a few instructors about the benefits of prenatal yoga, the dos and don’ts, and the best poses, as well as toa mother, who benefitted immensely from it.
THE GOLDEN RULE—CONSULT A DOCTOR
You know it needs to be etched in stone, when three yoga instructors say the same about prenatal yoga. For those reading this article, here’s something to drill in your head—please consult a doctor before starting. Sushama Maurya, a yoga instructor for the past 17 years, has the same piece of advice for regular yoga practitioners and beginners. “A lot of miscarriages take place during the first trimester, and this is exactly why one should start practicing prenatal yoga only after seeking doctor’s advice. ”
WHEN TO START PRENATAL YOGA?
Marvi Khatwani, a yoga instructor from New York, recommends an early start—even before knowing that you’re pregnant. “It’s best to start yoga exercise as early as when you’re planning a baby. Any healthy individual, with no health issues, should start at this time, or in the first trimester, but only after doctor’s permission. It’s great for fertility. We live a life of stress and that’s why infertility is so high among women. Yoga helps to feel better as well. ”
KEEPING THINGS LIGHT
There’s a good chance that prenatal yoga might be the very first time expectant mothers do yoga exercises. With weight gain and everything that’s going on with the woman’s mind and body during pregnancy, it’s no surprise that they are made to do exercises that are extremely light in prenatal yoga. Alefiyah Siamwala, a yoga instructor based out of Toronto, tells us more, “We start with a pose you’ve never done before; you have never pushed your body to that limit. Also, you have a life living and breathing inside you, and that’s why we (instructors) keep things simple. We take you through a journey where your body reaches that level of endurance. You also then start to know the body well and its limitations. We focus on the lower back, hips, and pelvic area, so that your body is ready for labour, and you have an easy delivery. ” Maurya reiterates the same, “For me, prenatal yoga centers around three things—meditation, pranayam and relaxation. With fluctuating hormones, all of us do things to soothe the mind and body. It’s all about doing light poses and variations. The use of blocks, belts and props helps greatly. We, at no point, recommend forward bending plus stomach-related asanas. ”
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
No one knows your body better than you. Your prenatal yoga instructor may know what to do, and what not to do. But at the end of the day, they are unaware about how you are feeling. This is why, prenatal yoga instructors urge all expectant mothers in order to communicate. Khatwani talks about what goes into teaching prenatal yoga. “We take care that the student is practicing it mindfully. We also taking care of what they can’t do. The truth is that our body is magnificent and can do some incredible stuff. You can see the particular change that yoga has on their lives. ”
“It is always better to have the mothers be present in-person. It’s important to know their limitations. If you’re a newbie, then you have to be vocal about everything your body is going through. As an trainer, I have to ask my client how they’re feeling, every time I see them. I tweak the session according to their mood and focus on poses that will give her relief. I am super careful because I can push that person for a pose only until a certain limit to help them improve their strength and flexibility. It is very important they actively communicate, ” says Siamwala.
When it comes to prenatal yoga, there’s always ample room for improvisation and last-minute changes. “Due to the mood swings and constant hormonal changes, you never know what the mother is going through on a particular day. What they feel good about today, will not be the case tomorrow. So , you cannot pre-plan anything. This is why we speak to them and take our time with them. It’s about awareness and being able to communicate it. ”
MOTHERS ALWAYS KNOW BEST
Anupama Jolly is one amongst the many mothers who have benefited through prenatal yoga. The new mother has been practicing yoga within the past four years now. “Every woman has a different journey of pregnancy, but yoga exercise can help each one of them. It’s a combination of movement, meditation, exercise, and full-body movement. ”
Doing squats and a variation of the goddess pose worked wonders for Jolly. “I did 300 squats a day until the eighth month. It helped me with my mental peace. Your hormones are through the roof. You are gaining weight and have constant hunger pangs. I had very bad morning sickness. Prenatal yoga is one of the key reasons why I didn’t have back pain. Your back, pelvic gets engaged during childbirth, whether it’s a C-section or normal delivery and yoga prepares a person for it. ”
Jolly has one piece of advice, from one mother to everyone looking over this: “If it is paining plus you’re not comfortable, simply stop. Or try another pose or form. It’s like eating—whether you eat with a fork, spoon or your hands, you are eating at the end of the day. It’s the same with yoga. And the most important part about yoga is breathing right. Inhaling and exhaling is the key. If you don’t do those correctly, everything else gets affected. ”
It’s time to take a deep breath and enjoy the wonderful journey as you welcome a life into this world.