Prenatal Yoga - for mother and baby
KOCHI:Pregnancy is a unique, exciting and often joyous time in a woman’s life. A pregnant woman needs to be responsible to ensure the health of her child, as the baby depends on her healthy body for all needs. She must take steps to remain as healthy as possible by doing proper exercises and a well nourished diet.
There is a need to manage the physical, emotional and mental states and pain that arise throughout the stages of pregnancy and labour. Well-being of mother is critical for positive pregnancy outcomes.
Regular physical exercise has maternal and foetal advantages that outweighs risks. A 30 minutes long exercise on most days of the week will prevent the conditions associated with inactivity like gestational diabetes and hypertension.
Yoga is an ancient mind body practice, used in developed nations as a health practice for a variety of immunological, neuromuscular, psychological, and pain conditions. Yoga is a comprehensive system that uses physical postures (asana), breathing exercises (pranayama), concentration and meditation.
Balance : Balance is challenged physically as the foetus grows within body. During this phase one is emotionally drained due to the increases in progesterone and estrogen . As we try to focus on holding and breathing through each yoga pose, we are able to fine tune our balance.
Connection with the baby
A prenatal yoga practice allows one to slow down and focus attention on what is going on within the body. Through working with our breath and doing each pose, one becomes more aware of what is going on within.
Increased circulation: Circulation is enhanced within our joints and our muscles are elongated during practice. Upon circulation of the blood within our bodies, swelling is decreased and our immunity is enhanced, creating a healthy environment for a thriving baby. Pregnancy allows us to stop and slowdown from our busy days. Through the practice of yoga, you are setting intention in taking care of not only yourself, but of baby also.
Importance of prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga is important because pregnancy can be stressful for the mind and body.
Because of the irregular hormonal patterns, women complain of mood swings, which can be alleviated by various breathing techniques and asanas. Yoga can be practiced differently according to the three trimesters due to the specific physiological and hormonal changes in different time periods.
During first trimester there iss not much physical changes happening in the body except hormonal changes. But this stage is considered to be the most delicate because the risk of miscarriage is at its highest. lf the lady is regular yoga practitioner, she can continue yoga without much effort avoiding abdominal muscle compressing postures. lf someone is new to yoga, its better to start in the second trimester.
In a healthy pregnancy, blood pressure is lowered by hormones to accommodate extra fluids that supply the placenta. The low BP can cause dizziness, head aches, mild swellings in the hands and feet.Weight gain cause varicose veins and cramps of legs.
Standing postures like Uthita trikonasana, Uthita praswa konasana, Virabadrasana ,Utkatasana are great to build strength in legs and increase circulation to prevent swelling in ankles and feet. Hip openers like supta badha konasana, Supta pada ankushtasana open the hips and relieve the back. This can be done by using blankets to elevate the upper body to 20 degrees.
This is the final stage of pregnancy, culminating in labour. Discomforts like heartburn, low back pain, cramps, shortness of breath, frequent urination are likely to present. Extra weight can cause discomfort. The pressure of the crowded uterus on internal organs can result in heartburn, cramping in the front and sides of abdomen and shortness of breath. Yoga eases physical discomfort and prepares for the labour.
The ideal time to start yoga is in the second trimester, after 14 weeks.
Dr Ani Sambath
AyurVAID Hospitals, Kochi
(The views expressed by the author are her own)