Women's Health and Pregnancy
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Studies have suggested that yoga postures during pregnancy provide movement of the internal muscles due to stretching. These exercises help in the release of hormones in the body, which are beneficial for both the mother and the fetus.

Summary

Pregnancy is a period when there are many physiological and psychological changes within the female body, which causes many aches and pain. Involving exercise in the form of yoga during pregnancy, along with help and guidance from yoga professionals, can significantly improve the health of pregnant women and also help reduce pain. Yoga poses help improve flexibility and strengthen the spine and core muscles. As a result, there are fewer complications during the labor period and have a positive impact on normal delivery. Yoga poses also help calm the mind and the body, which helps reduce stress and anxiety during pregnancy. 

See: Yoga treatment for Depression

Prenatal yoga for childbirth

Yoga originates from the Sanskrit word 'Yuj,' which means to join together the mind and the soul. Yoga is a practice of stretching exercises and postures (asanas) combined with deep breathing (pranayama). One key benefit of yoga is to help unite the mind-body and soul by calming the mind and body. Yoga is recognized as a way to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Traditionally yoga has been proved to be beneficial for various systems of the body, which include the circulatory system, digestive system, reproductive system. It is also helpful for improving mental health and stress management. Another prime benefit of yoga is its use during pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a period where there are immense physiological and biochemical changes occurring within a female as it adapts to support the growing fetus. During pregnancy, the internal organs of a female experience pressure due to the growing fetus in the womb. Hence, to reduce the risks and complications during pregnancy and delivery, yoga exercises are essential. Many studies have suggested that yoga postures during pregnancy provide movement of the internal muscles due to stretching. These exercises help in the release of hormones in the body, which are beneficial for both the mother and the fetus. Stress and anxiety during pregnancy are also improved with improvements in the overall health of the fetus. [1,2]

See: Garbh Sanskar Therapy To Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

Pregnancy yoga

Yoga for pregnant women

Yoga for pregnant women has been regarded as beneficial by many studies. During pregnancy, there is an increase in the weight of the women to nourish and support the fetus. During this period, due to the fetus, there is pain and ache in the joints and muscles of the body. As a result, the physical and mental health of the female is disturbed during pregnancy. Similarly, there is a hormonal change in the body of the female, which results in mood swings within the body. Thus, yoga is of prime importance for pregnant women. 

Yoga poses, which are advised during the pregnancy, involve stretching exercises that help in the movement of the joints and muscles in the body. Stretching helps to prevent and ease the pain of muscles and joint aches. Yoga even improves the circulatory system of the body, along with the hormonal release of the body. Exercise helps in the release of hormones like endorphins, which boost the mood of women during pregnancy. Yoga helps in calming the mind, which further helps in reducing the stress and anxiety levels during pregnancy. 

Pregnancy-related lower back pain is a common pregnancy problem. Many studies have been conducted to study the effects of yoga on lower back pain during pregnancy. It was observed that there was a positive correlation between yoga and a reduction in pain intensity during pregnancy. A significant decrease in lower back pain, along with a gradual decrease in pain intensity, was observed in the subjects. As per a study, pregnancy is often associated with psychological conditions. These studies assessed the effects of yoga on various psychological conditions such as mood, quality of life, stress, and relationships. It was seen that yoga significantly improved these psychological aspects as well as decreased the adverse psychological effects of pregnancy. All these studies concluded that yoga for pregnant women is essential to have a healthy gestation period. [3,4,5]

See: Yoga Helps You & Your Baby For Gestational Diabetes

Pregnancy yoga asanas

Pregnancy yoga poses

During pregnancy, not all yoga poses are advised for pregnant women. Many of these poses may be harmful to pregnant women. It is essential to take advice from your nearby doctor before practicing any of the yoga poses. Certain pregnancy complications make this yoga poses harmful for the mother and the child. Many studies have evaluated the benefits of yoga during the gestation period for pregnant women. It was found that there was significantly higher maternal comfort in pregnant women who had performed regular yoga during the gestation period. As per several studies, these are some of the yoga poses which are useful during pregnancy for women: 

1.     Marjariasana (Cat stretch)

It helps stretch the neck and shoulders and also helps alleviate stiffness. It provides flexibility to the spine. It is incredibly beneficial as the back has to support more weight as the gestation period advances. This asana helps improve blood circulation, ensuring that there is proper blood flow to the fetus.

2.     Konasana

This exercise helps to stretch the sides of the body, which results in better spine flexibility. It is also beneficial for constipation, which is a common symptom of pregnancy.

3.     Veerbhadrasana (Warrior pose or Virabhadrasana)

This exercise improves the balance of the body. It tones the arms, legs, and lower back to support the fetus during pregnancy. It also increases stamina in pregnant women.

4.     Trikonasana

This exercise helps improve physical and mental balance in pregnant women. It is essential in pregnant women as their center of gravity shifts during pregnancy. It helps in the stretching and opening of hips, which provide great help during a delivery. It also helps reduce back pain and stress during pregnancy.

5.     Badhakonasana

It is an excellent exercise to improve the flexibility of the hip and groin region. As a result, it facilitates smooth delivery and reduces labor complications. Stretching also helps to relieve the pain from the thigh and knee region.

6.     Viparita Karani

It enhances the blood flow to your pelvic region and helps reduce backaches and pain. A common symptom of pregnancy, which is swollen ankles and varicose vein, is also improved due to this exercise.

7.     Shavasana

This exercise, combined with deep breathing, helps relax and repair the body. It helps calm the mind and body and also promotes better sleep in pregnant women.

8.     Yoga Nidra

It is a type of deep breathing exercise where the body is completely relaxed. It helps regulate blood pressure and decreases tension and anxiety, which overall provides better sleep.

It is essential that during later stages of pregnancy, yoga asanas, which put pressure on the lower abdomen should be avoided. During the first trimester of pregnancy, standing yoga poses should be adopted, which helps strengthen the legs and improve circulation. During the second and third trimester, time spent in performing the yoga poses should be reduced as it may result in fatigue. Deep breathing exercises should be involved as an alternative to yoga poses. Many pregnancy yoga classes may be put up near your areas, which should be considered during pregnancy as these classes have a specialized team of professionals which help pregnant women to perform correct yoga poses without any complications in the pregnancy. [6,7,8]

See: Modified Sun Salutations as a Suitable Yoga Practice for Obesity

Pregnancy yoga classes near me

Consider joining a prenatal yoga class

You can try to look for a yoga program taught by an instructor who has training and experience in prenatal yoga. You may want to simply observe a class beforehand to be certain that you're completely comfortable with the asanas or poses involved, the class size, the teacher's style, and the class environment. A nice soothing environment will help you relax and get the most out of this class.

See: Ayurveda for Nausea in Pregnancy

Science & Research

Researchers in the UK have studied the positive effects of yoga on pregnant women. They have found that it can reduce the chance of them developing depression and anxiety. Anxiety during pregnancy has been connected to premature birth and low birth weight. It has also been connected to an increased developmental and behavioral problems in the child from the time they are a toddler to teenage years. It has even been known to cause mental health problems in the mother later. A high anxiety level during pregnancy is associated with post-natal depression, which is further tied to a higher risk of developing depression later in life.[9]

This study demonstrates that pregnant women may have the ability to use yoga to reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety, which in turn might help prevent them from having post-natal depression. We know that pregnancy yoga can help improve physical health and strength on the run as much as having a baby, and this new evidence shows that it may have significant benefits for women's psychological health too.

See: Acupuncture Healing Depression and Infertility

References

1.     A. E. Beddoe and K. A. Lee, "Mind-Body interventions during pregnancy," Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 165–175, 2008.

2.     Curtis K, Weinrib A, Katz J. Systemic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2012; 2012: 715942.

3.     ACOG Committee Obstetric Practice. ACOG Committee Opinion. Number 267, January 2002: exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstet Gynecol 2002; 99: 171-173

4.     Ji ES, Han, HR. The effects of Qi exercise on maternal/fetal interaction and maternal well-being during pregnancy. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs 2010; 39 (3) 310-318

5.     Exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 267. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2002; 99:171–3.

6.     Beddoe AE, Lee KA, Weiss SJ, Kennedy HP, Yang CP. Effects of mindful yoga on sleep in pregnant women: a pilot study. Biol Res Nurs 2010; 11: 363-370

7.     Kaplan, Ş., Alpayci, M., Karaman, E., Çetin, O., Özkan, Y., İlter, S., … Şahin, H. G. (2016). Short-Term Effects of Kinesio Taping in Women with Pregnancy-Related Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Medical Science Monitor- International Medical Journal of Experimental & Clinical Research, 22, 1297–1301.doi.org/10.12659/MSM.898353

8.     Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, December 15). Prenatal yoga: What you need to know mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/prenatal-yoga/art-20047193

9. James J. Newham, Anja Wittkowski, Janine Hurley, John D. Aplin, Melissa Westwood. EFFECTS OF ANTENATAL YOGA ON MATERNAL ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION: A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL. Depression and anxiety, 2014; DOI: 10.1002/da.22268


See: Diet vs. Exercise Debate For Weight Loss

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