1. Keep your stress level in check
Decompressing and reducing stress is something that brings a lot of people to yoga, and of course this becomes even more important to do during pregnancy; your baby feels everything that you feel! Yoga is calming for the mind, and the postures help to release tension that seems to accumulate extra during pregnancy. The work we do with breath awareness also helps greatly with de-stressing. Slowing down the breath, especially the exhale, slows down the heart rate so that you and baby can feel calmer and more relaxed.
2. Connect with your baby
The practice of prenatal yoga is all about creating space for baby; physically, as well as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Your yoga practice is time you set aside to take care of yourself, and in turn you are connecting to your baby. They practice with you. Every breath you take is a breath you share. And there is plenty of quiet time to communicate with your baby in any way that makes sense to you.
3. Increase circulation
Through the combination of breath and movement used in yoga, circulation is enhanced within the body as synovial fluid is activated and dispersed and the muscles are elongated. Increased circulation helps to reduce swelling, a common and sort of inevitable side effect of pregnancy.
4. Prepare for the intensity of labor
Yoga teaches us to breathe consciously and mindfully, even during times of intensity. Practicing breathing calmly through the different poses is wonderful practice for being able to breathe through the intensity that you will experience during labor. It is the practice of being comfortable with discomfort. There are also many yoga poses that we practice during class that can be helpful to use during labor such as child’s pose to rest or malasana (squat) to push efficiently with gravity.
5. Gain a community
It can be very comforting to be with a group of women going through the same process you are. Prenatal classes are safe spaces to communicate with one another, rant, complain, share stories, support, and congratulate one another. A sisterhood is created.
6. Relieve tension, ease aches and discomfort in the body
As baby grows, more stress is put upon the low back, hips, upper back, chest and shoulders. Many yoga poses help to relieve some of the discomfort caused by the changes in the body. In my prenatal classes I always start by asking each student what is going on in her body so I know where to focus some of the poses in order to address specific needs of each body that day.
7. Stay active and in shape
Being pregnant does not mean that you are broken or with an illness! You can absolutely stay active, in fact, most women enjoy more ease during pregnancy when they stay active, as you can imagine the body is not meant to be stagnant. Movement helps to stay balanced and to release tension and toxins. Also, labor is one of the most physically demanding feats you will accomplish in your life. So it makes sense to prepare the body and strengthen the muscles! It’s also a good idea to start working on upper body strength as you look forward to the days of carrying around a baby everywhere you go, plus all their stuff.
8. Tune into your body’s needs
During pregnancy, your body is changing every day. It is so valuable to set aside time in your day to quiet your thoughts, and really pay attention to what is going on. Your body will tell you what you need, whether it is to rest, or to work, or to play. The practice of yoga is nurturing. It is so crucial to take of yourself during this time, you are growing a baby! You deserve to be nurtured and cared for. Also, the time that you are pregnant flies by. Savor this short and sweet time while you can by slowing down and being present!