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Quite a few, actually.
Your body is generally more supported
“Our bodies are always changing,” says Jane Austin, a pre- and postnatal yoga teacher based in San Francisco and the founder of prenatal yoga school Mama Tree. But in pregnancy the body experiences “an accelerated pace of change,” she says, and needs help adjusting and compensating. “Prenatal practice is designed to support the changes that happen in a pregnant body,” Austin says, by offering women healthy, safe ways to stretch their muscles and strengthen their bodies — their lower bodies in particular — to ease the process of supporting a growing belly.
Relieves tension of lower back, hips, chest, upper back, and more
As baby grows, more stress is put upon these specific muscle groups in our bodies. We tend to have more of a lordotic/lower back curve due to the increased size of our bellies. Our hips get tighter due to the added pressure of baby’s weight in our bellies. As our breasts increase in size, our upper back and chest have more tension, along with our neck and shoulders.
A bulleted list of many benefits
- Improved sleep
- Reduced stress
- Increased strength, flexibility and endurance
- Decreased lower back pain
- Decreased nausea
- Decreased carpal tunnel syndrome
- Decreased headaches
- Reduced risk of preterm labor
- Lowered risk of intrauterine growth restriction (condition that slows the baby’s growth)
It’s one of the fastest ways to meet other pregnant women in your area. Unless your friends are pregnant at the same time as you (which does happen), it’s a good way to build sisterhood and a community — and make new friends.
That is exactly what the breath work, pranayama, part of yoga will do, even if you are not pregnant. Yogis use what is called conscious breathing to help “still the mind.” Yoga breath work also increases the depth of the breath. By learning “three-part breath,” or “Ujjayi breathing,” we learn to breathe to our bellies, which really means we learn to use the abdominals to breathe and use our diaphragm and really work the ribs to breathe. This allows us to get more oxygen into our bodies. Also, the exhalation of the breath is a natural relaxation for the body. If you notice, when you take a deep breath, on the exhale you can feel the muscles move down and release, that is because they are doing just that.
Strength of the pelvic floor
Ideally you know why this is important. Hint: lots of reasons.
Can ease morning sickness
Any pregnant woman will tell you that one of the worst parts of this experience is the constant sense of nausea and morning sickness that befalls you. For me, I never threw up but had this constant sensation at the back of my throat that would leave me dry heaving into a toilet when certain smells would trigger it off. I would then practice my breathing and found that it helped to reduce my mood swings and nausea.
As the first trimester ended and the morning sickness faded, the back pain started up. That was when I started to do yoga more regularly and almost immediately I felt an improvement in my posture and back aches which is very common in pregnant women.
What would you add on prenatal yoga?
I’d love to hear any experiences you’ve had.