Yoga and Pregnancy

Every woman wants to have a healthy baby. Yogic practices, when done with care, can make a woman's body stronger and more flexible. Yoga poses tone your muscles, improving the overall balance and circulation, while making your joints more limber.

Yoga poses help you breathe and relax, which can help you adjust to the physical demands of labor, birth, and motherhood.Learning how to do ujayi breathing primes you for labor and childbirth by training you to stay calm when you need it most. If you are afraid during labor, the body produces adrenalin and shuts down the production of oxytocin, a hormone that makes labor progress. Yoga practice will help you fight the urge to tighten up when you feel the pain, and show you how to breathe instead.

The practice of meditation is extremely beneficial for you and your baby. It has been proven to slow down your heart rate, relax and focus your mind - all great for the baby.

As a general rule, avoid backbending poses, as well as extreme forward bending. Place your legs apart for seated paschimottanasana (forward bend.)

If you never practiced inverted poses before, now is not the time to start. However, if you have a practice of inversions, you may carefully continue for the first two trimesters. Don't hold the poses for too long.

You may want to skip any movements that require you to lie flat on your back for longer than a few minutes, especially after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Lying on your back can put pressure on your inferior vena cava, the vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart, and can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. But many women are comfortable lying in this position well into their pregnancies, so watch your body and your instincts.

First trimester
You don't have many restrictions this early in your pregnancy. If you're a regular yoga practitioner, accept that your routine will require modifications as time goes on. Listen to your body.

Second trimester
Don't try to hold poses for a long time, and remember to sink into yoga positions slowly and carefully to avoid injury, because of your loosening joints. Your expanding belly will effect your sense of balance.

Third trimester
You're probably feeling less graceful now that your belly is bigger, so perform standing poses with your heel to the wall to avoid losing your balance and risking injury to you or your baby. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through different poses with greater stability.

Anastasia Dorohova is a certified and registered yoga teacher, and a holistic health counselor. She works with clients, improving their nutrition habbits and well-being. Anastasia teaches group,private and corporate yoga classes in New York. http://www.steadybliss.com

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