Get the most out of your pregnancy yoga class
I am in awe of the female body so it’s quite fortunate that I happen to live in one of those myself, right?
Seriously, all bodies are incredible in their ability to grow, heal and just generally carry us around the planet but female bodies? That’s a whole other level of high-fives to Mother Nature.
That we have the ability to create, nourish, grow and birth an entirely new human being and then go on to sustain that little life with optimum nutrition that we manufacture on site; just, wow.
And that’s only the physical element – there is no force stronger than the maternal instinct whether you have children or not. A mother would go to the ends of the earth to defend her young, literally putting their life before her own. And this is exactly as we were designed.
Indeed, if you think about a pregnant body, from the moment of conception, the unborn child takes everything it needs from the mother’s body in order to grow and develop. Like a beautiful little parasite that we adore quite simply, more than our own existence. It is our job to ensure the survival of the younger generations, passing on the strongest genetics to ensure the survival of the species.
A note on infertility
I am writing this blog post from the perspective of a woman who has been blessed with two healthy pregnancies and babies. I know I am very fortunate that I do not have the personal experience to sympathise and I cannot pretend to even guess at the emotional trauma of being faced with fertility issues.
During my studies of anatomy and physiology and during personal research I have a good understanding of the female reproductive system. However, I never really appreciated just how physically and emotionally traumatic fertility treatment can be on the human body and our gentle hearts until I studied pregnancy and post-natal yoga under the tutelage of the very wonderful and knowledgeable Anja Brierley-Lange.
Check back in soon for a completely separate post about the benefits of yoga for those affected by these issues, but I need to say that I know your path must be rocky and so hard, please do take comfort from people who love you and want to support you.
I truly honour you and the struggles you face. I send you all my love. 💕
What are the benefits of yoga during pregnancy?
I practiced antenatal yoga myself during both of my pregnancies, however, if I had a time machine to re-live those periods of my life with the knowledge base I have now, those amazing experiences would jump out of the frame in vivid technicolour.
This is why I love to share what I have learned.
Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect to gain from a prenatal yoga practice.
Better body image and awareness
There is a wealth of information available to pregnant ladies, in fact it’s probably a multi-million pounds generating market. We crave information about what is happening to our bodies, we need to know at what stage of development is the baby? What can I eat? What if something goes wrong???
Of course, sadly sometimes things do not go to plan. It is important to be aware of those things, but the scaremongering can just do one.
Our bodies are designed to perform this very task and to a certain degree, we do not need to do a thing. Your body will do everything it needs to do with little or no input from you.
This can sometimes make a woman feel a little overwhelmed or out of control of her own body. Mindful practices and meditation can massively help to stay present and away from unnecessary stress or worry.
Yoga can help you maintain a sense of self during pregnancy
You will be offered lots of advice and with the greatest respect, I would suggest listen to the advice and bin the things you feel you don’t need.
As a mother-to-be, you will be the expert about what is best for you and your family. Taking the time to concentrate solely on you during a prenatal yoga class and the ability to maintain your sense of self will reinforce your emotional strength as well as your physical strength.
physical fitness during pregnancy
This is a biggie.
It’s not just the weight of the growing unborn baby that creates the shape of the pregnant body. There is lots more fluid present. This includes the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby and extra blood to accommodate the increased demand, there is around 50% more plasma in a pregnant body. This all creates extra mass that must be supported by the muscles and the frame of the woman. These muscles need to be strong just to get about. Seriously, there are very good reasons that a pregnant lady will get out of puff quickly. The blood has a lot further to travel to take oxygen to her muscles – her heart and respiratory system are working hard.
All of these changes to the shape will affect your centre of gravity. Strong muscles and good stability and mobility will be a good friend to you during this period of change that happens so rapidly!
Moving the body gently during pregnancy will also help support the digestion system and the lymphatic drainage system. The act of the muscles moving will help everything else move along as well. The growing baby needs space, and who needs intestines and a bladder anyway?
What’s that you say? You need another wee break? Go for it!
The size of the growing uterus will eventually reduce the amount of space in which the diaphragm has to move which allows the breathing to be efficient. Heaviness around the abdomen and weighty boobs will undoubtedly affect the posture of the frame which also in turn affects the efficiency of the breathing. All of these are very good reasons to maintain strength.
This strength will also be key later, on the day that Baby makes an appearance.
And in the weeks and months after when you be lifting and carrying Baby and negotiating pushchairs, return to work, housework, and shopping etc. I’d say ‘delete as appropriate’ but I’m sure you know that chores still need to be taken care of at some point.
I can’t say it enough. But I’m going to say it again. Our nervous system governs so much more than we think it does. We spend so much time in fight, flight or freeze mode in our everyday life, we also need time to rest and digest. Read one of my Christmas blog posts on the physical effects for a bit of a deeper explanation but when you are feeling the effects of stress, vital energy is directed away from the digestive and reproductive systems.
And where are you needing that energy right now?
I know you have work to finish, changing units to research and nurseries to decorate but pregnancy really, really, really is time that you want to be slowing down. Wherever humanly possible, take every single offer of help and support that you are offered. Especially during the later stages of gestation.
Slow down during pregnancy
Recall your physical ability before you were pregnant - at work, during a yoga class, at the gym - and let’s count that as your 10. During pregnancy, turn the dial down to a 6 or a 7. Seriously, your body will thank you! Just by getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom, your body is already working hard.
Take delight and joy in the fact that any movements that you make, during a yoga class or anywhere, can be slow, mindful and deliberate. Savour them.
If you have concerns about weight gain or the change in your appearance, I implore you, please don’t worry about that for the moment. You are beautiful and your body is doing an amazing thing.
Pregnancy yoga can help you learn relaxation techniques that you will be able to use on the nights where your mind is racing and you can’t seem to drop off - you will sleep better!
Having the time to relax during a yoga class can help you to begin to connect with your unborn baby. You can literally communicate with Baby from inside your body.
Allow me to tell you something incredible; your baby is the only person who knows what your heartbeat sounds like from the inside of your body.
Relaxation techniques that you learn during your yoga class might just well be your salvation and sense of calm on the day that your Baby comes along. Also during those magical first weeks after Baby arrives and you need the rest but can’t physically take yourself to bed.
As far as I am aware, all yoga teacher training courses will cover an element of prenatal yoga and the pregnant body is such a precious thing. Please know that I am in no way jumping on to the scaremongering bandwagon – I would highly recommend to move mindfully and practice with a yoga instructor, specifically trained and qualified to guide and support you.
I teach pregnancy yoga in Nottingham in both group settings and privately so if you do want to work with me, drop me a line, let’s connect. I also run Women’s Wellness classes at the beautiful Bahia Yoga studio on Stoney Street which are aimed at women at all stages, pregnant, menstruating, undergoing fertility treatment, menopausal – all are welcome! You can check out current dates and time and book your class direct one the Bahia Yoga website.
Donkeys run in fear for the hind legs when I start talking about the benefits of a mindful practice during pregnancy and differing stages of women’s lives. I am planning more posts on this subject so do check back in or subscribe if you’re interested to know more.
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