Yoga is an excellent form of exercise in pregnancy. While gently stretching and exercising the body it also quiets the mind. Prenatal Yoga classes are carefully planned to include postures (aasanas) which as safe for the pregnant woman and her baby within. The principles of yoga include a respect of and compassion for the body and its troubles and limitations. Through prenatal yoga, a pregnant women learns to listen to her body and treat it gently. She learns to respect her body’s strength and resilience. She learns to relax and breather and quiet her mind, important skills for coping with the stress and sleeplessness of pregnancy and parenting. Although few scientific studies of yoga in pregnancy have been carried out, those that have (like this one from Bangalore, India) show positive effects of yoga on both mother and baby.
For a woman who has been very active and fit before she became pregnant, prenatal yoga may not feel strenuous enough in the first and second trimester. An active woman with a low-risk pregnancy is encouraged to maintain her usual activities as long as she can through her pregnancy. But even a very fit woman will find, sometime around her 6th or 7th month, that she is feeling a little heavy and a little slow, and that a more relaxing form of exercise would be welcome.
Besides exercise and relaxation, prenatal yoga provides pregnant women with a place to meet other women who are at the same stage in life. Meeting and talking to other pregnant women is important in a woman’s development of her identity as a mother-to-be. It helps her to feel pregnant. It also helps her to realize that she is not alone in her experience, that other women are having the same sensations and emotions.
* This article is an update to our post from September 2010.