Written by Charlotte Musgrove (Pregnancy and Postnatal Yoga Teacher)
The benefits of a yoga practice during pregnancy are numerous. Yoga helps to relieve discomfort in the physical body as well as calm the mind, which may be grappling with the idea that you are now pregnant and that you are about to bring a little one into the world!
Pregnancy yoga accommodates the physical needs and changes that occur during pregnancy as your baby grows and develops. Some common conditions during pregnancy, such as backache, can be relieved by using gentle movements and stretches leaving the body feeling more open and relaxed.
A regular yoga practice during your pregnancy also helps you to connect with your baby and the emotional and energetic changes you are experiencing. This can be hard when we lead busy lives with work, other children we already have and other life commitments. Giving yourself a regular time slot each week to dedicate to yourself, the needs of your pregnancy and your developing baby is very precious and will help you prepare for bringing your baby into this world and transitioning into the role of being a mother.
If you can access a local pregnancy yoga class, you can also start to build your support network of other mothers that are sharing the same journey with you. It can be so valuable to have other women that can support you and share your journey during pregnancy and parenthood.
Alongside the physical movement of a pregnancy yoga practice there are also breathing practices and techniques that can be used to help calm the nervous system. These can be useful when it comes to the right time for birthing your baby to keep you centered, calm and relaxed. Generally, lengthening the exhalation helps to bring about a sense of relaxation and ease as we drop into the part of our nervous system that is responsible for resting and slowing down, known as the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system we want to be in when it comes to birthing our baby so that our birthing experience can be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. By practicing these breathing techniques whilst pregnant, we begin to establish them as a behaviour we recognise and can drop into quickly and easefully when we need to. Not only are they useful for pregnancy and birth, but they’re also great for centering yourself during motherhood too, when you may need to remain calm and relaxed if things aren’t going your way with a baby or toddler in tow! Sometimes I feel motherhood is the ultimate yoga practice!
As with all yoga classes, pregnancy yoga also incorporates the opportunity to rest at the end of the class in relaxation or shavasana. This is a valuable opportunity to nourish and nurture the body and mind during pregnancy, and yoga props or other support such as cushions and blankets are used to make the body comfortable as your baby grows and you progress in your pregnancy. Relaxation offers time and space for yourself, to honour your needs, and also to connect with your baby. It is such an important practice, both during pregnancy and postnatally. During relaxation you may be guided through visualisations or meditation practices that help to prepare the body and mind for birth or that help to encourage deep rest, leaving you feeling replenished and restored.
For more information on our Pregnancy Yoga classes and our Intro Offer of your first two classes for £15 – please visit us here