Yoga for Pregnant Women. Part I ...

The teachings of yoga can provide knowledge, wisdom, and practical guidelines for every stage of our lives. Being an all-embracive and versatile discipline, it has been modified to suit the physiological and spiritual requirements of pregnant women, as well. The months of carrying a baby are a precious and enlightening time, and it is not surprising that many women turn to the wisdom of yoga when they are pregnant with their first child. Since bringing a new life into the world is such a sacred and mysterious endeavor, there can be no more important time to start taking care of both your own and your still unborn baby’s spiritual, physical, and mental needs.

Any pregnancy, and especially your first one, is a greatest miracle, a voyage of discovery, and a period of many changes. All of your seven “bodies”, including emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical, are mobilized together in order to create, nourish, grow, and deliver the child into the world. Practising yoga will powerfully help you to have a comfortable pregnancy and easy delivery, regardless of the state of your health or personal circumstances. Right from the very beginning, yoga will also provide the best spiritual environment for your growing son or daughter.

From this article, you will learn:
• How to avoid most health and cosmetic problems associated with pregnancy, such as weight gain, back pain, soggy abdomen, or stretch marks;
• Which yoga postures (asanas) are most suitable for pregnant women;
• How to practise yoga safety when you are expecting a child;
• Which yogic exercises can prepare your body for an easy childbirth;
• How to start practising even if you have never done yoga before;
• How the teaching of yoga can help you remain fit, calm, and spiritually aware during the months of pregnancy;
• Which breathing exercises (pranayama) are particularly helpful for pregnant women; and
• Why daily meditation is important.

Since all women, and especially those who are expecting their first baby, experience some “fear of unknown”, including the fear of a delivery and “great pains” associated with it, regular meditation is a very important tool to combat stresses, fears, concerns, and anxiety. Yes, a delivery of the child is a hard work, but it is also a perfectly natural process that your body knows how to perform. Yoga will teach you how to drop your fears and remain positive and strong, taking all events in life “one step at a time” - just as they come. Meditation will help you turn your mind within and free yourself from all discomforts and worries related to not only specific issues of pregnancy but also everyday events of your life.

While incorporating yoga into your life, it is very important to establish a routine for regular practising of asanas, pranayama, and meditation. Reserve one hour of your day, either in the morning or before the bedtime, just for your yoga session. Turn off your phone and TV, light a candle or incense, select a soft, calming piece of instrumental music, and kindly ask your family members not to disturb you while you are practising yoga.

If you are planning to learn yoga from one of numerous yoga manuals, remember to adjust their basic recommendations for your pregnant state. Note that expecting mothers, especially during their second half of pregnancy, should be very careful while exercising.

The following tips may be helpful:
• Even if you are already an experienced yoga practitioner, choose the beginner’s programs with gentle asanas and shorter sessions, to practise during the entire length of your pregnancy.
• Muscles of pregnant women tend to stretch easily, due to an increased secretion of the hormone relaxin. You will find that many yogic positions are relatively easy to perform while you are pregnant. However, never push yourself into asanas, and be careful not to overstretch your muscles and ligaments.
Sitting and standing positions, such as Easy Pose, Lotus, or the Tree, are very important and can be continued even during the last weeks of pregnancy. Most sitting asanas open up the pelvis and prepare the surrounding tissues for the birth, while standing positions strengthen the leg muscles, which is a good aid for both carrying and delivering of the baby.
Backwards bends, such as the Locust or Cobra, should generally be avoided by pregnant women in their second and third trimesters, since these asanas target the abdomen.
• If a particular yogic position causes you any discomfort or strain, do not practise it.
• As the baby grows, you will notice that it is harder for you to practise yogic asanas, and it is normal. During the second half of your pregnancy, focus mainly on the specially selected and recommended here exercises.

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