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And breathe... Everyone knows that yoga is famous for helping people to become calmer and more flexible – both things that could come in pretty handy for a mother-to-be. However, as with all forms of exercise it’s important for pregnant women to take precautions to avoid hurting themselves or their baby. Prenatal yoga is designed to provide the benefits of traditional yoga, but tailors breathing and movement specifically to suit pregnant women. It’s an excellent way to stay in shape whilst you await the pitter patter of tiny feet.
When most people think of yoga they immediately think of bizarre poses (downward-facing dog, anyone?). However, breathing is another element of yoga that is very important, particularly for pregnant women. Most classes begin with a lesson in breathing techniques, training you to breathe in slowly and deeply and to breathe out fully. This helps you to prepare for labour by teaching you how to stay calm and in control of your body.
The poses used in yoga class depend on the stage of pregnancy reached. In the first trimester of pregnancy there aren’t many restrictions. By the third trimester, your instructor will be teaching you modified poses specially designed to accommodate your growing baby bump. These poses can help to relieve pregnancy-associated discomfort such as back pain and fluid retention, and to keep your body nice and flexible. Regular yoga practice can also help to relieve stress and lower blood pressure (not a bad idea after the baby is born, too!).
Prenatal yoga can be performed throughout pregnancy, although modifications to your exercise routine will need to be made as your pregnancy progresses. Thankfully, you don’t need to have previously practiced yoga in order to reap the benefits.
Prenatal yoga classes don’t just improve your physical wellbeing – they can also be a great place to meet other pregnant women so that you’re not alone in your pre-baby nerves.
Alyssa Milano, Kourtney Kardashian and Gisele Bundchen are all fans of prenatal yoga as a way of staying toned and feeling connected to their bodies.