Safe Yoga in Pregnancy

Safe Yoga in Pregnancy

To bear a child is undeniably the most divine fulfilment of women and yoga can be of great help to the expectant mothers: during pregnancy, at childbirth and in post-delivery period. Yogic exercises or asana are specific body poses designed to improve the awareness and muscular flexibility. It prepares both your body and mind for new situations and changes that occur during and after pregnancy.

Yogic practices designed for pregnant women help them to have correct posture, flexibility of spine, improve their breathing capacity and to manage stress. It helps to build immunity, inner strength, improve control over body and emotions. Smooth pregnancy and a natural child birth are just some of the benefits of Yogic exercises. But more importantly, Yoga does wonders on the physical and mental development of the foetus.

Trimester-by-trimester guidelines: Pregnancy is divided into trimesters of three months each. Use these guidelines for each trimester of pregnancy.

First Trimester

Marjari Asana (Cat Stretch Pose): Stand on the knees and lean forward by placing the hands flat on the floor. Inhale while raising the head and depressing the spine so that the back becomes concave. Exhale, while lowering the head and stretching the spine upward.

This asana improves flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spin, tones female reproductive system and can be safely practiced during first 6 months of pregnancy.

Kati Chakrasana (Waist Rotating Pose): Stand with the feet about half a meter apart and the arms by the sides. Bring right hand to left shoulder and wrap left arm around the back. Look over left shoulder. Hold breath for 2 seconds, inhale and return to starting position. Repeat on other side. Do twisting smoothly without any jerks. Do about 5-10 rounds.

This asana tones waist, back and hips. Induces a feeling of lightness and used to relieve physical and mental tension.

Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose): Stand with feet together and arms on the side. Raise arms over the head, interlock fingers and then turn the palms upward. Place hands over the head. Inhale and stretch arms, shoulders and chest upwards. Raise heels to come up on the toes. Stretch whole body from top to bottom. Lower heels while exhaling and bring hands on top of the head.

Helps develop physical and mental balance. Entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear congestion of the spinal nerves. Also stretches rectos abdominal muscles keeps nerves toned.

Second Trimester

Matsya Kridasana (Flapping Fish Pose): Lie on stomach with fingers interlocked under the head. Bend the left leg sideways and bring the left knee close to the ribs. Right leg should remain straight. Swivel the arms to the left and rest the left elbow on the left knee.

Stimulates digestion, removes constipation and relaxes nerves of the legs. In later months of pregnancy, lying on the back may cause pressure over major veins and block the circulation. In such circumstances, this posture is ideal for relaxing and sleeping. Also redistributes excess weight around waistline.

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose): Kneel on the floor. Bring big toes together and separate the heels. Lower the buttocks onto the inside surface of the feet with heels touching the side of the hips. Place hands on knees, palms down. Back and head should be straight, but not tense.

Enhances digestive functions and can be practiced directly after meals. Relieves stomach ailments like hyperacidity often a trouble faced during pregnancy. Alters blood flow and nervous impulses in the pelvic region and strengthens pelvic muscles. Assists women in labor.

Bhadrasana (Gracious Pose): Sit in Vajrasana (above). Separate the knees as far as possible, while keeping the toes in contact with the floor. Separate the feet just enough to allow the buttocks and perineum to rest on the floor. Try to separate the knees. Do not strain.

Its benefits are same as Vajrasana.

Third Trimester

Ardha Titali Asana (Half Butterfly): Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up and down towards the chest.

It is an excellent practice for loosening of hip and knee joints, which shall enable faster delivery.

Poorna Titali Asana (Full Butterfly): Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to the body as possible. Fully relax the inner thighs. Clasp the feet with both hands. Gently bounce the knees up and down.

Tension from inner thigh muscles is relieved. Relieves tiredness of legs.

Supta Udarakarshan Asana (Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose): Lie on the back. Interlock fingers of both hands and place hands beneath the head. Bend knees, keeping the soles of feet on the floor. While breathing out, lower the legs towards the right, trying to touch the knees on the floor. At the same time move the head towards the left, giving uniform twisting stretch to the entire spine.

Removes constipation, improves digestion. This relieves stiffness and strain of spine caused by prolonged sitting.

Shoulder Rotation:

Single Arm: Place the right fingertips up on the right shoulder. Slowly rotate the arm and shoulder joint around as if drawing a large circle with the tip of the elbow. Do 5 times one way and then reverse the direction for 5 circles. Repeat on the left side.

Double Arm: Raise the arms up, fingers on both shoulders. Slowly rotate both arms together in large circles. Try to stretch the elbows as far back as possible, and try to touch them together at the front. Go 5 times in one direction and then 5 times reverse.

Breathe Inhale when opening the chest as the elbows go backwards; exhale when the elbows move towards touching at the front. It improves circulation and flexibility in the shoulders and upper back, releases tensions from around the heart and lungs and encourages better breathing. This exercise helps to stimulate proper function of the mammary glands.

Regular practice of above asanas under the guidance of a trained teacher can assure safe and comfortable pregnancy.

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