Monday, 25 June 2012

Prenatal Yoga – How it Can Benefit You and Your Baby

I'm delighted to introduce, Lisa Redding's guest blog on the benefits of yoga for soon to be mums...

The holistic approach of yoga means that it is an exercise designed to benefit both mind and body – both of which come under huge strain during pregnancy. For women who want to keep fit, get toned and strengthen their muscles then yoga is a gentle exercise that is safe throughout each trimester. But aside from the physical benefits, the spiritual nature of yoga can also create a calming, harmonious effect on the mind that helps mums-to-be remain stress free throughout their pregnancy. This, of course, is also essential towards maintaining a happy mother and healthy baby. 

Here are some of the ways in which yoga can benefit pregnant ladies and their unborn babies:

Yoga poses, or asanas, often involve holding a pose in a way that strengthens muscles and improves flexibility – both of which can help make the labour process much easier. By elasticating the ligaments and improving flexibility, women are able to adapt positions easily which minimises labour pain. Some useful asanas for pregnancy include:
  • Pyramid (Parsvottanasana) – This works the pelvic muscles, encouraging and expanding the area in order to ease delivery. It can also help relieve stiffness and lower back pain.
  • Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Shavasana) – This helps reduce fatigue by increasing blood flow to the brain. It also helps decrease swelling in the legs and ankles.
  • Bound Ankle (Baddha Konasana)  – This helps exercise the pelvic floor muscles and also corrects the pressure of the uterus which can occasionally cause water retention.
  • Daily Squats – Performing a daily squatting routine alongside your asanas can help open the pelvic muscles and bring strength to the upper leg muscles.
All of these poses are suitable during the first, second and third trimesters.

Breathing exercises, or pranayamas, are key in performing exercises successfully and remaining centred, focused and relaxed. During pregnancy, this deep form of breathing improves the circulation of blood around the body which is good for mother and baby. It also increases the amount of oxygen to the body which can help relieve aches, pains and nausea.

Breathing techniques are also helpful during labour. Deep, slow, heavy breaths enable the muscles to absorb more oxygen which can help reduce the pain of contractions. In addition to this, deep breathing helps the mother to remain calm and reduce the amount of adrenalin flowing throughout her body. Adrenelin is produced when we are scared and actually slows down the process of labour by stopping the flow of labour inducing hormone oxytocin.

Meditation in yoga is all about finding that perfect balance between mind and body. There are different forms of meditation, some of which include:
  • Mantra Meditation – This involves chanting a specific word or prayer which is thought to balance the body’s energy centres (also known as chakras).
  • Vipassana Meditation – This involves focusing on the internal body and immediate environment in order to become more in tune with your inner feelings.
  • Walking Meditation – Walking around a chosen spot whilst focusing on breathing and pace. This helps create a calming effect on the mind and body.
Meditation during pregnancy helps promote a greater awareness of inner feelings and sense of self, which in turn helps the mother bond with her baby. It also helps calm and relax the mother and help her to cope with mood swings. During the later stages of pregnancy, some women find that posture and poses become difficult to manage with a bump so meditation can become an important form of relaxation as labour approaches.

Post Pregnancy
Yoga can also have benefits following birth. Postnatal yoga can usually be started approximately six weeks after giving birth and helps to get the body back to its post pregnancy state. It also helps to build up the muscles that were strained during pregnancy and labour (particularly the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles).
Baby Yoga is also a new trend which promotes natural development within the body and nervous system of young babies. The age specific exercises are always gentle and designed never to overstretch your baby’s abilities. These classes often include music and singing with rhythm been used as a major tool in increasing healthy suppleness. The classes also include exercises for mum.

Due to its gentle nature, yoga is a form of exercise that can be enjoyed by a variety of people regardless of age, ability or condition. Many people enjoy it because it has numerous health benefits that improve their physical and mental well being as well as lowering medical travel insurance. But anyone who wants to begin yoga should always consult with their GP or fitness instructor first; as ever, this is particularly relevant in pregnant women. Informing your instructor that you are pregnant will ensure that you are always doing appropriate, relevant and safe exercises and allow you to get the very most out of your routines. 


  1. Yoga is very great and it benefits a lot in our mind, body and in our soul. It is considered to be one of those effective pain relievers that could heal any body pains such as neck pain, lower back pain and a lot more.