Yoga For Pregnancy

A precious and sensitive phase in every woman’s life which requires a good understanding of the changes our mind and body goes through, throughout the process of pregnancy. As per tradition, the enlightenment or education of the womb through certain practices, is called Garbha Samskara. What better way to make an attempt in understanding this, other than a mindful practice of Yoga?

So, what are the different Stages of Pregnancy?

  1. Preconception
  2. Prenatal
    1. First Trimester: Weeks 1-12
    2. Second Trimester: Weeks 13-27
    3. Third Trimester: Weeks 28-40
  3. Postnatal

Yoga For Conception

About 10% of women between the age of 15 to 44 have difficulty conceiving due to various reasons. These could be physical, mental, genetic or chronic conditions. Apart from genetic or chronic conditions, a mindful practice of yoga can be very beneficial in overcoming the underlying physiological causes.

Common problems:
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Underweight
  • PCOS/PCOD
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Other hormonal imbalances in the body

Breathing techniques, Kriyas, Pranayama and Asanas benefit physically by helping them work on these preconditions and ease the process of conception. Yoga for conception doesn’t work just on the physical level by bringing more awareness to their body, it also helps on a mental and emotional level.

Why yoga for preconception?
  • Brings awareness towards the body
  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens the pelvic floor muscles
  • Balances the body weight
  • Prepares the body and mind for pregnancy

Prenatal Yoga

Is practicing yoga safe during pregnancy? When should you start prenatal yoga? What practices are safe?

There’s a lot of confusion among women about whether they can or cannot practice yoga, if they do, what are the dos and don’ts. Here is an attempt to put this confusion to rest, and emphasise on the fact that it is absolutely safe to practice yoga throughout pregnancy, till the last day, but with proper guidance.

According to the famous text Hatha Yoga Pradipika, written by Svatmarama-

yuvo vṝddho|ativṝddho vā vyādhito durbalo|api vā |

abhyāsātsiddhimāpnoti sarva-yogheṣhvatandritaḥ ||

Loosely translated into- “The young, the aged, the diseased, and the weak- all may take to the practice of Yoga and derive its benefits, according to their requirement”.

Each of these phases comes with its own pros and cons. A woman goes through a lot of physical, mental, and emotional changes, but with the right mindset and preconditioning, one can sail through the phase smoothly. This phase also allows women to enjoy some of the most beautiful experiences- from tiny to very evident movements of the baby, and a lot more.

First Trimester:

This is the first phase of the pregnancy, which is slightly sensitive and women go through rapid hormonal changes which leads to a lot of imbalance physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is also a phase that is crucial to the baby’s growth.

Common problems:
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Cramps
  • Indigestion

Most people are under the assumption that women should completely rest during their first trimester. This is true only in case of any complications in the pregnancy, otherwise it’s always advisable to walk and do gentle practices, to prepare the mind and body for the upcoming changes.

Second Trimester:

This is the phase where there’s a noticeable change in the woman’s body, the growth of the baby forms a bump on the belly. The mother will also sense the baby’s fluttering movements for the first time in this trimester.

Common problems:
  • Lower back pain
  • Tightness in the lower abdomen
  • Leg cramps or swelling
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach Bloating

Most of the symptoms mentioned above can be managed with prenatal yoga at home. All one needs to do is practice consistently, mindfully, focusing on themselves, and practicing as per their need and well within their limits.

Third Trimester:

This is the last phase of the pregnancy during which the baby fully grows and gets ready for birth. Most of the problems faced during this stage is due to the increased size of the uterus.

  • Headache
  • Swollen ankle, fingers, face
  • Varicose veins
  • Severe lower back pain
  • Insomnia

Most women go through these problems during the last trimester. A good preparation during the first two trimesters and before conception, helps in understanding the body better and avoid most of these problems with regular practice of yoga and pranayama.

So, if you’re wondering about the problems pregnant women face and Yoga can help manage any of these problems, then read the next segment…

Benefits of Yoga practice during Pregnancy:
  • Makes you feel fresh and energetic
  • Calms your mind
  • Aids digestion
  • Helps in healthy blood circulation
  • Better breathing
  • Releases neuro-muscular tension
  • Reduces back pain, swelling, cramps, stiffness, etc
  • Strengthens pelvic floor muscles
  • Alleviates stress and anxiety
  • Helps in managing
    1. Nausea, heaviness, and fatigue
    2. Sciatica
    3. Varicose veins
    4. Gestational diabetes
    5. Toxemia 
  • Enhances the mother’s and baby’s overall health
  • Prepares the mind and body for childbirth

Postnatal:

This is a very crucial phase for the new mother and the newborn baby. Taking care of the mother’s physical and mental health by providing good nutrition, and an environment is of utmost importance.

Common problems:
  • Lack of sleep
  • Diastasis recti (Ab separation)
  • Perineal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation 
  • Postnatal depression
When can you start Yoga Postpartum?

Usually in both Natural birth & Cesarean, gentle movements can be started after 42 days, but with proper guidance and care.

Postnatal physical activities have to be carefully designed based on one’s health conditions and/or complications they might have undergone during delivery. 

The practice can be started off with gentle movements to joints, and breathing techniques.

The main goal with yoga practice is to regain the strength in the abdominal, and pelvic floor muscles. Any strenuous practices should be avoided until the mother is breastfeeding.

What are the benefits of Postpartum Yoga?
  • Helps in regaining muscle strength
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Helps in fixing posture
  • Pranayama and meditation helps in reducing postpartum depression
  • Helps with breastmilk production
  • Fixes diastasis recti condition
Conclusion:

A mindful practice of Yoga, Pranayama, Kriyas, Mudras, and Meditation for women before, during or post pregnancy, prepares the body & mind for motherhood. Any exercise is best practiced under proper guidance and is to be designed keeping in mind- the woman’s body type, condition, and complication. All that said and done, self care & listening to your own body takes precedence.

Happy motherhood!

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