Prenatal yoga has seen its share of teachers giving well-informed advice in order to help women during this, most critical stage in their feminine journey, but is all the prenatal yoga advice you are getting from your yoga teacher really accurate?
There is much controversy around which yoga poses are safe to practice and women are often left confused about how to use some of yoga’s most promising tools in order to experience a safe pregnancy and easier labor and delivery.
Geeta S. Iyengar, the daughter of yoga guru B.K.S Iyengar tells women they can do inversions throughout their entire pregnancy while other ‘authorities’ say that this is unquestionably wrong.
How do you know which advice to adhere to in order to keep you and your baby safe? These important questions are answered on YOME. Read on to find out more about this controversial topic in yoga.
The Pros and Cons of Yoga Poses Practice During Pregnancy
Lamaz instructors often teach women how to breath during the different stages of labor. I don’t know a single women who believes that breathing alone carried them through their most difficult labor pains, pranayama, or the practice of yogic breathing is an excellent tool, akin to the breathing exercises taught in Lamaz to help a women stay calm and collected when labor gets intense.
The specific breathing practices taught in yoga help to change the physiological response of the nervous system so that stress is handled without creating a negative feedback loop, i.e., the more stressed out you get, the harder it is to calm down, thus creating more stress until it is out of control. One simple yogic breath called Ujjayi, can help to calm the nervous system and brain, thus inducing the ‘relaxation response’ coined by the Harvard Medical Doctor, Herbert Benson.
Con – Fast breathing:
This can be harmful to pregnant women and cause undue stress to the fetus, so pranayama like breath of fire should not be practiced.
Pro – Happy Hormones:
There is a great hormonal cocktail of happy-inducing melatonin and seratonin which floods the body after a relaxing yoga session. This is what leads to a yoga high for many practitioners. During the hormonal roller coaster and added stress women experience while pregnant, this added boost to mood can be life-saving and even helps with post-natal depression.
Con – Twisting:
Many women think that since they have been practicing yoga for years that they can continue to twist their bodies into pretzel-like shapes even in the later stages of pregnancy. While every woman’s body is different, it is usually not advisable to practice deep twists, for example if a woman has had difficulty getting pregnant or has undergone fertility treatments in order to become pregnant because the fertilized egg can become dislodged form the uterus. Deep twisting which originates form the belly can also strain the pelvic and abdominal muscles since they are already stretching to accommodate a growing fetus. Deep backbends are unadvisable for similar reasons.
Pro – Mind Preparation:
Yoga poses helps to prepare the mind and body for one of the most stressful and physically demanding times in a woman’s life. It is invaluable in helping women experience the joy of birth.
Con – Relaxing:
Women who are pregnant produce a hormone called relaxin, which makes the ligaments more supple in order to accommodate the head of baby during delivery. Without proper guidance women can overstretch in yoga while they are pregnant, causing injury.
There are many more pros and cons to practicing yoga safely while you are pregnant, and while doing research on your own is advisable, consult a well-qualified yoga practitioner who has specific experience teaching pregnant women before you continue with your practice. Ideally, you should listen to you own body and make sure that you don’t force anything, but nurture yourself as you grow an entire human being inside you!
Do you have specific pregnancy related questions regarding yoga?
Please share your insights and curiosities with us below so that other women just like yourself can learn from our collective wisdom:
In case you are looking for prenatal yoga resources, you must check the videos section:
On YOME you will find a collection of high quality pre-selected FREE videos presenting Prenatal Yoga. Here is one of them: