The Secret Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Connect with that happy baby
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy Nancy L/Twenty20
By English Taylor
writer for The Natural
Impending motherhood is a beautiful thing. But bearing the weight of a baby belly is more than just physical discomfort, it can be an added 10 (or so) pounds of stress and looming decisions. With the help of the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga, a prenatal yoga practice dedicated to poses for healthy pregnancy can help you prepare for baby in ways beyond just stretching out some of your sore back, legs, hips, and arm (dare we go on?) muscles.
A chance to breathe
According to San Francisco-based yogi Nicole Cronin (Opens in a new window), a yoga instructor and proud toddler mom, your breath is the most important tool in pregnancy and birth.
Breath can be critical for three reasons:
- It’s a way of communicating with the baby in utero.
- It can be an effective pain regulator.
- It can keep you present and aware.
“Steady inhales and exhales send a message to your central nervous system and baby that your body is safe and secure,” Cronin says. On top of this, she explains, breath work during labor is a global practice used to manage contractions and aid pushing, verifying its importance in understanding your body’s needs. “In addition to keeping you present in one of the most amazing experiences of your life, steady and deep breathing helps you make choices you feel good about, like whether or not to accept certain medications or procedures.”
Take some ‘me’ time
Pregnancy can sometimes feel like you’re constantly rushing to prepare and plan as much as possible, which makes it difficult to savor solitude before your little one arrives. After all, there likely won’t be as many opportunities for “me” time post-baby.
“Taking an hour to yourself for a prenatal yoga class helps you slow down, relax, and savor the moment,” says Cronin. “While prenatal yoga teaches you how to do this pre-baby, it also gives you the tools to do this once you have the baby.”
Photo courtesy of Przemek Klos/Twenty20
A sense of community
Pregnancy hormones could sometimes make you feel especially, well, sensitive. But not everyone around you will know what it’s like to be pregnant or be able to relate to your unique experience. Prenatal yoga classes can offer the common ground for you to gain access to a supportive community experiencing pregnancy right alongside you.
“When you’re in a room with other women who are in your situation and about to experience a huge life transition, you feel emotionally held,” Cronin says. “Compared to a regular yoga class, you’re also more likely to engage and ask each other questions like, ‘How far along are you? Where are you giving birth? Where did you get your crib?’ ”
Tuning into your intuition
As just one of the countless decisions you’ll have to make during pregnancy, you also are faced with deciding what type of parent you want to be. If you go to the Internet, books, or even other mothers, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused. Cronin says, “There are as many opinions as there are mothers, books, and webpages.”
Prenatal yoga classes help teach you about your own innate wisdom and intuition. “The combination of breath, physical movement, and slowing down ripens your ability to respond to the responsibilities of being a parent,” says Cronin. “In class, you’ll move into stillness and be able to better listen to your body. This will help you make choices and build the next stage of your life in a way that’s truly authentic to you as a mother.”
Nicole Cronin is a yoga instructor and proud toddler mom. You can learn more about Nicole on her website (Opens in a new window).
Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.