Health Benefits of Yoga for Pregnant Women
As seen on Medical News Today, yoga is a mind and body practice originating from ancient Indian philosophy. Different yoga styles are a combination of physical postures, meditation or relaxation, and breathing techniques. Nowadays, yoga is a popular type of physical exercise based on asanas (specific physical postures) aimed at bettering the mind and body control and well-being. Regular yoga practice is considered to be highly beneficial for the overall health and it can help decrease low back pain, manage stress, and enhance one’s balance and flexibility.
Some evidence also suggests that pregnant women who are doing yoga have a smaller likelihood of complications in later pregnancy and during labor. Taking into consideration that pregnancy and childbirth are some of the most challenging periods in a woman’s life, this article will be focused on discovering how pregnant women may benefit from yoga. But, first, let us learn more about the philosophy of yoga and the different types of it.
The Philosophy of Yoga
As seen on Medical News Today, in the past, yoga was often referred to as a tree with different parts, all of which have their own approach to life and properties. Yoga is considered to have six different branches. Let us take a look at each of them in detail:
- Raja yoga- this yoga is consisted of meditation and strict adherence of the 8 limbs of yoga
- Hatha yoga- it includes asana and pranayama practice for both the physical and mental health
- Bhakti yoga- a path of devotion or a positive way to channel emotions and grow acceptance and tolerance
- Tantra yoga- a collection of rituals with the goal to study the universe through the human microcosm with the goal to balance human instincts and try and achieve enlightenment
- Jnana yoga- a path to self-realization through the pursue of knowledge and truth, i.e. the yoga of the intellect
- Karma yoga- a path of creating a future that is free of negativity and selfishness stemming from our actions
Different Types of Yoga
As seen on Mind Body Green, nowadays, there are a lot of distinct types of yoga and you can find the most suitable type for you, regardless of whether you are striving for a more physically-demanding activity or an easy and relaxing meditative class. Let us take a look at the 11 most popular types of yoga out there:
- Hatha yoga
The term hatha stands for all physical postures in yoga. Hatha yoga, in the West, stands for all the other types of yoga which are focused on physical practice. Physical yoga is the most popular one (there are some branches of yoga, as previously noted, that are not based on physical practice). It is the ideal option for beginners because it is more slow-paced than other types. Nowadays, when you attend classes of hatha yoga, the focus is on breathing and exercises, i.e. an excellent way to enter the world of yoga.
- Ashtanga yoga
This yoga is more physically demanding and it is meant for the more experienced yogis. The practice begins with five sun salutation A’s and five sun salutations B’s and then it proceeds into a set of standing and floor poses. Vinyasa, the next yoga type we are going to talk about, originates from Ashtanga.
- Vinyasa yoga
This athletic yoga style was adapted from Ashtanga back in the 80s and in this type of practice; the movement is coordinated with the breathing and movement with the purpose to flow from pose to pose. The style often varies on the teacher and it may include miscellaneous poses in different sequences.
- Restorative yoga
This type of yoga is centered on helping one relax the mind and body after a long day. The goal of this particular yoga style is to relax and restore and detoxify the mind; one therefore, spends more time in fewer postures and most of them are modified to be easily performed and to have a relaxing effect. Often times, this yoga introduces the usage of props like bolsters, eye pillows, and blankets with the goal to enhance relaxation.
- Bikram yoga
For those who really want to sweat it out during yoga, this is the best option. This style involves performance of set poses in sauna-like rooms with a temperature set to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. One sequence is consisted of a series of 26 basic poses and each of them is done twice.
- Yin yoga
This slow-paced type of yoga encourages students to perform seated poses for a longer period of time. It is a good type of yoga for beginners and the poses are usually held from 45 to 120 seconds and it is also recommendable for those who want to find inner peace because it is also a type of meditative yoga.
- Anusara yoga
This is a more modern approach to hatha yoga and it is similar to vinyasa due to the fact that it is centered on alignment, but here, the focus is on improving the body-mind-heart connection and it includes various expressions. This style is all about how each part of the body should move and the goal is to open the heart. A lot of classes of anusara yoga involve gathering around a student as an instructor breaks down a specific pose.
- Prenatal yoga
This yoga style is specifically designed for future mothers and it is accommodated to women in all trimesters. For a lot of experts, prenatal yoga is considered to be one of the best physical activity for expectant mothers due to the focus on the pelvic floor, breathing, and bonding with the baby and also because this yoga aids new mommies to prepare themselves for labor and delivery better.
Prenatal Yoga & Its Health Benefits
According to Fit Pregnancy, expectant mothers who want to prepare their body and mind for labor and delivery may opt for prenatal yoga. Below, check out the main reasons why prenatal yoga may be a suitable choice for you if you are pregnant.
Before you start doing yoga if you are pregnant, make sure you are familiar with safety tips and what the usual class of prenatal yoga entails.
- Increases your strength and stamina
With the baby growing in your body, you will require more energy and strength to be able to carry the weight. This is why prenatal yoga focuses on helping you gain strength in the hips, arms, back, and shoulders.
- Alleviates tension
The growing of the baby is known to put a lot of pressure and stress in specific muscle areas in the body such as the lower back, hips, and chest, as well as in the neck and shoulders. Prenatal yoga helps reduce the tension.
- Prepares you for labor
Each of the poses includes conscious breathing exercises, which is often challenging, and this practice will increase your capacity to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Breathing in is acknowledging the tension you feel whereas the breathing out assists you in letting go more of it with each breath.
- Relaxes the nervous system
Proper breathing puts the nervous system in parasympathetic mode which is in charge of relaxation. In this phase, the digestion works adequately, you sleep better, and your immunity works optimally.
- Boosts the blood flow
This practice will improve the blood flow in your joints and muscles as they become elongated through the practice. This in return will lower swelling and strengthen your immunity and thus, contribute to a healthy environment for a growing baby.
- Betters your balance
Physical and emotional balance is known to be challenged with the baby growing in the stomach and often, a pregnant woman may feel tired because of the elevated estrogen and progesterone. Holding and breathing while performing the poses is a highly effective way to restore your balance.
- Helps you work on the connection with your baby
Practicing the poses and breathing during prenatal yoga is known to center the attention on what is happening in a woman’s body and help you start building a strong connection with the baby.
What Does a Prenatal Yoga Class Include?
In most cases, as emphasized on Mayo Clinic, a typical prenatal yoga class is comprised of breathing techniques, gentle stretching of specific body parts, moving the body in various poses, and relaxation through breathing or a repetition of mantras.
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