What is Good for the Mother is Good for the Baby. This has been a go-to motherhood mantra of mine. How are you taking care of yourself? What are you doing everyday to feel good; in your body, in your mind, and in your spirit? What are you doing to nourish yourself? These are questions that every expecting, new, and veteraned mother should be asking herself.
We’re lucky in this day and age to have a plethora of tools, education, and in-person & online resources available to help us cope and process the physical, emotional, and spiritual changes that come with impending motherhood. It’s no small feat.
My number one favorite tool for overall wellbeing has been the practice of yoga. And not necessarily just the practice of physical yoga, which might I add has countless benefits, but more-so the big picture practice of yoga. The internal (& external) discipline it fosters, the breath control, the concentration and meditative absorption, the integration it creates in my whole body & being, and the community it cultivates. It has become my constant companion.
If you’re on the fence about joining a prenatal yoga class, allow me to happily illuminate 5 fantastic reasons why you should start today!
Prenatal Yoga Prepares you for Labor and Delivery
Perhaps the very greatest gift yoga can offer us is to transform our experience of labor no matter how it ends up. Yoga prepares us for the labor we end up having. I know for a fact that the tools I’ve learned from yoga helped me survive my 84 hour labor. The grounding and centering breaths, the long exhalations, & the deep guttural humming, in sometimes unexplainable ways help us come to a place of acceptance of an unpredictable process. When we are afraid we tend to tighten up and yoga offers us strategies to release that building tension and relax into the process of giving birth. Awareness and control of the breath is also a wonderful technique to help with pain management.
Let’s also not forget that many yoga postures help baby set themselves up for optimal fetal positioning!
Prenatal Yoga increases Strength, Flexibility and Agility
The energizing and strengthening practices within yoga are great for the cardiovascular system while many poses are therapeutic for the circulatory system which can help reduce blood pressure and decrease fluid retention in the body. Prenatal Yoga helps women to build and maintain muscle tone that can often help minimize common aches and pains. The strength and flexibility focus of the postures can help ease back, neck and hip pain, which is often caused by the increasing stress on the spinal nerves by the growing weight of the baby and also the increase in breast size (which causes a kyphosis of the thoracic spine). Essentially prenatal Yoga can help women experience a more comfortable pregnancy. Yes Please!
Prenatal Yoga Cultivates a Connection between Mama & Baby
It makes sense that our well being would have a direct effect on the healthy development of a baby. Sometimes with our busy lives your one hour of weekly prenatal yoga might be the only time you are able to set aside to breathe and connect in with your own body and that of your baby. Our body’s rhythms are naturally synchronized with that of our baby’s and prenatal yoga can be a wonderful reminder to slow down and feel that magical connection. The practice of controlled deep breathing not only brings much needed oxygen to your muscles but also to your baby.
Prenatal Yoga can enhance a woman’s enjoyment of pregnancy as this sacred and special time in life where you are not only honoring the ever present changes in your body but also the growth and development of your unborn child. Additionally the practice of mindfulness and building a bond with your baby prenatally has potential to aid in preventing or perhaps minimizing postpartum depression.
Prenatal Yoga Gives You a Community
I probably don’t need to tell you how validating it is to go through a shared experience with other women who just get it. It can be extremely empowering and healing to know you are NOT ALONE. Perinatal Anxiety affects 1 in 5 women. Hearing stories of how other women are coping with the ups and downs of pregnancy can help alleviate normal anxieties that easily creep up during this experience. It helps us feel and stay connected to this collective goddess warrior energy and allows us to learn from one another. Women have been growing and birthing babies for millenia. You are not alone. I repeat, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Prenatal Yoga is Beneficial for the Deep Toning of our Birth Muscles
It’s really important to keep the Transverse Abdominis and muscular walls of the uterus and pelvic floor toned not only to assist with your birthing journey but also to help you in your postpartum recovery. You want a good balance between length and strength when toning muscles and yoga is a beautiful tool to help achieve that. A prenatal yoga class targets the muscles you will use in labor helping you to build strength and stamina.
When you are ready to take the next step and sign up for a Prenatal Yoga Class it is often recommended to wait until week 11 or 12 to begin, especially if you have a history of miscarriages. If you are aching to start earlier make sure to consult with your healthcare professional and the yoga teacher before registering. In finding the right class make sure to look for a qualified teacher who has at least 200 hour YTT in addition to a Prenatal Yoga Certification. You want to feel confident that your instructor knows how to keep your body and baby safe.
Elissa Cirignotta is a mama, writer, educator, world traveler and Yoga Teacher. Aside from the year 2020 she can be found teaching and practicing yoga in Des Moines Iowa, Portland Oregon & Sicily. She loves to play with her toddler, grow plants, plan trips, make up recipes, and write stories. She founded Happy Mindful People to provide kids, teens, educators and parents with the tools and support they need to inspire healthy personal changes and find more joy in the day to day. For more info visit www.happymindfulpeople.com. Her next online Prenatal Yoga Series starts on January 17th.