Pregnancy is a time filled with excitement and nervous anticipation. As your body prepares for extreme changes, you may find your thoughts and emotions swirling about in a disjointed and chaotic frenzy. You struggle to find the time and energy to organize the nursery, attend doctor appointments, pay your bills, prepare coworkers for your impending maternity leave, and somehow spend time with your partner and/or family.
Somewhere within your hectic schedule, you ache for just a few quiet moments. And this is only the beginning; following childbirth, your new life will be filled with the joy of your new baby—and an even crazier schedule. Yoga is a wonderful way to treat yourself while preparing both your body and mind not just for your birth experience—but for life with your baby.
Practicing yoga during pregnancy, even if you have never done yoga, is highly beneficial for both you and your growing baby. Many yoga postures focus on the pelvic floor and reproductive organs, aid in controlling breath and concentration, provide psycho-physiological stimulation through movement of the body, establish a meditative state beneficial for lessening anxiety, and promote deep mind and body relaxation. As pioneering prenatal yoga teacher Carmela Cattuti says, "Yoga postures become more than movements that stretch and strengthen the body; they become an anchor for labor."
Remember to Breathe
Before beginning a yoga routine, it is best to learn how to breathe properly. "The body awareness yoga brings is a huge plus in the birthing process," says Sarah Perron, co-author and co-founder of Baby Om. "And breath has a lot to do with it."
Pranayama, or yogic breathing, circulates oxygen throughout your bloodstream, bringing nutrients to you and your baby. "Pranayama helps to slow down the breath [and] heart rate and relax the nervous system. With continual practice, these techniques can be brought into labor to aid the process," adds Betsy Kase, owner and director of Yoga Haven in Tuckahoe, New York.