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Yoga For Pregnancy

Yoga For Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a condition in which women suffer significant physiological changes and stress, as well as certain physical and psychological necessities. Every stage of pregnancy and labour has its own set of challenges when it comes to dealing with the many physical, emotional, mental, and pain conditions that develop. Self-soothing strategies and psychoeducation are essential for pregnant women’s well-being during this transitional and significant period (1).

Even fertility is affected by many different types of things, including infections, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), and diabetes. Teratogens and psychological stress can also negatively impact the foetus’ normal growth. Physical, mental and social adaptation are all required during pregnancy as a result of the specific physiologic stress (2).

How Yoga can help with Pregnancy

Prenatal yoga, like other birthing preparation sessions, emphasizes stretching, mental centering, and deep breathing. There is a lot of evidence that prenatal yoga is safe and can have a lot of good things for pregnant women and their children.

Pregnancy yoga has the following benefits:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety 
  • improved sleep
  • Improve muscle endurance, flexibility, and strength in preparation for childbirth.
  • Relieve symptoms such as lower back pain, nausea, migraines, and difficulty breathing.

Prenatal yoga can also assist you in meeting and bonding with other pregnant women, as well as preparing you for the stress of being a parent for the first time (3).

Prenatal yoga is a beneficial kind of exercise for expecting mothers

Yoga is used to treat a wide range of immunological, neuromuscular, psychological, and pain-related issues. There is some evidence that it can improve the results of pregnancy, labour, and the birth of the baby. Stress levels, quality of life, interpersonal related, autonomic nervous system functioning and labour characteristics like as pain, duration have been shown to improve with yoga practise. Researchers’ findings imply that yoga is safe and effective for pregnant women, and that it can help them achieve better results during their pregnancies, labours, and deliveries. In order to get a better idea of the effectiveness of prenatal yoga therapies, RCTs are required (4).

Yoga helps you prepare for labour, birth, and new motherhood

Young pregnant women have high rates of psychological suffering, trauma, and social complexity. An antenatal teaching and support programme at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Australia is proving challenging for young pregnant women. While yoga is largely acknowledged as a safe and beneficial pregnancy practise for adults, adolescent women are frequently omitted from yoga therapies and associated pregnancy research. Yoga was found to be acceptable by young pregnant ladies. Yoga was proven to reduce self-reported distress and boost perceived ability to aid with labour and birth in those who did engage. Accessible yoga programmes for pregnant young ladies are recommended (5).

Prenatal yoga prepares you for childbirth and labour

Women in labour experience intense concerns and anxieties about their ability to handle the pain, the risk of medical issues, and the health of the infant. Prenatal yoga, according to research, prepares them for childbirth and labour. When pregnant women are in pain or terrified, oxytocin, a hormone that aids in the onset of labour, may be generated less readily. Yoga practise on a daily basis can help pregnant women avoid stiffening up when they are in pain. Pregnant women who practise yoga’s relaxation techniques are better prepared to deal with stressful situations (6).

Yoga relieves the symptoms of prenatal depression

According to a study that used archival data to analyse the impact of yoga on pregnant depressive symptoms. Pregnant women who were depressed were randomly allocated to either a yoga treatment group or a parenting education control group. For a period of 12 weeks, the women in the yoga group attended lessons twice a week. On the same timetable, the attention control group attended 12 parenting education sessions. The yoga group outperformed the control group on the depressed affect and somatic/vegetative subscales, as well as the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale summary score. As a result, yoga appears to reduce depressive symptoms in pregnant women (7).

Prenatal yoga minimizes the risk of having a baby that is too small for his gestational age

Yoga reduces the chance of injury to both mother and child. The risk of injury to pregnant ladies and their baby is reduced by practising yoga, suggested by experts. Prenatal yoga minimizes the chance of complications, pain, and stress, as well as the risk of having a baby that is too small for his gestational age. Practising yoga as a non-invasive and cost-effective mind-body treatment may help lower the incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, gestational diabetes, and intrauterine growth restriction, according to study early randomized single-blind control trial. More research is needed to determine yoga’s role in various high-risk pregnancies (8).

Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises for Pregnancy

Yoga in pregnancy can raise birth weight, reduce preterm labour, and reduce Impaired glucose tolerance with few or no problems. Yoga decreases mental tension, manages pain and depressive symptoms. Yoga should be included in the pregnant routine to improve both mother and child’s health (9).

Yogasana

Yogasana practise primarily aims to exercise and relax nearly all of the body’s muscles in order to prepare it for sustained, stable, and coordinated activity without creating weariness.

Ayurveda and Yoga darshan texts explain certain types of asanas (postures) that can be performed by a pregnant lady because they use less energy and bring more advantages. The benefits of these asanas have been widely proven through their application in the treatment of OPD patients.

Yogasanas are categorized into three groups based on the trimester.

  • Asanas for the first trimester
  • Asanas for the second trimester
  • Asanas for the third trimester

Asanas For The First Trimester

Practising fundamental poses with a few alterations is a good idea. Avoid inversions, closed twists and backbends, which can compress or overstretch the uterus, resulting in poor blood circulation. Encourage a long period of relaxation following their practice.

Utthitatrikasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

It strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor, thighs, and calves. It promotes digestion and increases spine flexibility.

How To Practice

  1. Stand with feet 3-4 feet apart in a wide stance. Extend your right toe 90 degrees. Equally, weigh both feet.
  2. Raise your arms to shoulder height. Draw in from the waist.
  3. Begin to bend at the front hip, stretching forward over the right leg while engaging the core. Squeeze the quadriceps and gluteals while pressing the left hip toward the mat’s back.
  4. Lengthen the spine by extending through the crown. Lean forward and extend the left arm to the heavens. the shin, ankle, or floor. Face your palms forward and look up at your left hand.
  5. Hold for 5-10 calm breaths. Look down at the floor, then elevate your torso and rise with an inhalation. Withdraw your arms and knees.
  6. Reverse the process on the other side.
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior pose I)

It tones the lower body by stretching the groin area, strengthening the body and back muscles, and toning the lower body. Backache is relieved by increasing stamina and flexibility, as well as stretching.

How To Practice

  1. Step one foot to the back of the mat from Tadasana.
  2. The back foot should be turned out at a 45-degree angle, with all sides of the foot pressing into the ground.
  3. Lifting through the chest and encouraging the hips to face forward can help you to feel more confident.
  4. Allow the front leg to come to a 90-degree angle by bending it through the front leg.
  5. Raise the arms above the head and lift the gaze upward.
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)

It stimulates the body by stretching the legs, back, and arms. It aids with concentration improvement.

How To Practice

  1. Stand with feet a few inches apart. Begin with hands at the heart.
  2. Find your drishti, a still spot to help you find your balance. This spot should be near you, on the floor.
  3. Begin by lifting one foot off the mat or floor.
  4. To avoid the areas directly surrounding the knee, you can rest your foot anywhere along your inner leg line.
  5. Foot within calf or inner thigh. Extend your palms overhead to create branches.
  6. Open your hips with your bowed knee. Keep your standing leg bent.
  7. Exhale to find your way out, bringing your hands and knees back to centre.

Asanas For The Second Trimester

Avoid laying on your back as this limits blood flow to the uterus and poses that stretch the muscles excessively. Because the centre of gravity begins to move to the right during the second trimester, all standing postures with your heel against the wall for balance should be performed. While twisting, move your shoulders and back rather than your waist to minimise excessive abdominal pressure.

Vajrayana (Thunderbolt Pose)

This asana strengthens the digestive system, which improves energy absorption. In the pelvic region, it alters blood flow and nervous system impulses. It alleviates gastrointestinal problems like as hyperacidity and is the only asana that can be practised following a meal.

How To Practice

  1. Kneel so that your big toes cross over and your knees are slightly bent, with your thighs over your calf muscles.
  2. Your head should be straight and pointing ahead, with the crown of your head facing the sky.
  3. Begin by inhaling and exhaling slowly.
  4. When you begin, keep an eye on your breath and close your eyes.
  5. For 5–10 minutes, naturally inhale and exhale.
Matsyakridasana (Flapping Fish Pose)

It stimulates the digestive process and alleviates constipation. It relaxes the nerves in the legs, making this a great asana for a restful night’s sleep. It aids in the circulation of blood.

How To Practice

  1. Lie on your right side with your legs straight on the floor and your hands on your body.
  2. The right side of your chest is now on the floor; your right arm has moved back and your right cheek is now on the floor.
  3. Stack your hands at your right ear, and put your right cheek on these stacked hands.
  4. Adjust your position for comfort; hold it for 3-5 minutes with normal breathing; switch sides and repeat.
Marjariasana (Cat Stretch Pose)

This pose is extremely beneficial for toning the female reproductive system and pelvic muscles. This asana strengthens the neck, spine, and shoulder muscles, all of which are necessary for bearing down efforts during labour.

How To Practice

  1. Your back should represent a tabletop, and your hands and feet should represent the table’s legs.
  2. Hands in line with knees, arms perpendicular (90 degrees) to the floor. This is where you begin.
  3. Look straightforward with a concave spine. Now inhale deeply and elevate your head while bending your spine downward.
  4. Expand your abdomen gently and inhale as much air as you can. 3 seconds of holding your breath Exhale and sag. This will generate an upward stretch in your spine.
  5. Expand your abdomen slightly and pull in your buttocks. Face your thighs, head between your arms.
  6. Take a 3-second deep breath-hold, extending the spine and clenching the abdomen. Relax and repeat 3–5 times.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

It stretches the entire spine and aids in the clearing of spinal nerve congestion. Additionally, it aids in the development of physical and mental balance. It stretches and strengthens the rectus-abdominus muscle, a supporting muscle for bearing down.

How To Practice

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed straight ahead of you.
  2. Bring your hands together near your heart, fingers pointing upwards.
  3. Close your eyes and take calm, steady breaths in and out.
  4. If you feel comfortable, you can also reach your hands above your head and arch your back.
Bhadrasana (Gracious Pose)

This asana is beneficial for the digestive system and aids in the treatment of a variety of stomach disorders. It aids in toning the female pelvic region’s muscles. It, in conjunction with meditation, alleviates mental tension.

How To Practice

  1. Separate the legs as far as you can without straining. In contact with each other and the floor.
  2. Spread the feet wide enough for the buttocks and perineum to rest between them.
  3. Put your palms on your knees. Extend the legs apart without straining. Raise the spine.
  4. Practice Nasikagra Drishti (focusing on the tip of the nose) when comfortable.
  5. After a few seconds, close your eyes and return your sight to the nose tip. Relax your whole body by taking deep breaths.
Chakras Kati Asanas (Waist Rotating Pose)

Tones the waist, back, and hip muscles. It creates a sense of well-being and alleviates bodily and emotional tension.

How To Practice

  1. Lie on your side, feet about a metre apart.
  2. Inhale deeply while raising arms to shoulder height.
  3. Exhale and twist to the left. Wrap the left arm around the right shoulder.
  4. Look across the left shoulder as far as you can with your left hand.
  5. Keep your neck straight. The head revolves around the top of the spine.
  6. Hold the breath for two seconds and gradually stretch the abdomen.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side to finish one round. Keep your feet planted while twisting.

Asanas For The Third Trimester

These are only those asanas that do not create pressure on the abdominal wall that should be practised. Avoid sitting in a supine position.

Ardha Titali Asana (Half butterfly)

This pose is beneficial for releasing the hip joints, allowing for a quick and smooth delivery.

How To Practice

  1. Sit in Padmasana (lotus posture) or cross-legged on the floor.
  2. Then straighten one leg while folding the other.
  3. Right leg on left thigh, right knee bent. Make a right-left touch.
  4. Put your right palm on your right thigh.
  5. The left hand firmly grips the right toe
  6. Strenghten the spine and neck
  7. Inhale deeply and lower the knee.
  8. Exhale, then bring the knee to the chest.
Pornatitaliasan (Full butterfly)

Enhances the tone of the pelvic girdle. It relaxes the inner thigh muscles and alleviates leg fatigue. This asana strengthens the perineum’s ability to stretch.

How To Practice

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out to perform this pose.
  2. Bend your right knee and place your foot on the outside of your left thigh.
  3. Bend your left knee and place your foot on the inside of your right thigh.
  4. Make sure your heels are pointed upward and near to your stomach.
  5. Hold the position for a few seconds.
Chakki Chalanasana (Churning Mill Pose)

This is a great asana for toning and preparing the nerves and muscles of the pelvis and abdomen for delivery.

How To Practice

  1. To begin, sit on a yoga mat and extend your leg straight in front of you. Now raise your hands straight out in front of your chest, fingers locked.
  2. Continue with your arms straight and horizontal, and avoid bending your elbows. Straighten without straining. Assume you are simply grinding a millstone.
  3. Pivot to the right, aiming to cross the right toe as far as possible.
  4. On the rotation, lean back. When rotating forward, keep your arms and hands over your left toes. Finish 5–10 rotations clockwise, then counter-clockwise; During the rotation, move your hips. (Keep your hips straight and move your upper body from the hips).
  5. Beginners should aim for 5-6 revolutions every effort. To exit, inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Now keep your hands beside you, your leg straight, and relax.
  6. Reverse the asana. For best results, try at least 10 repetitions of this asana.
Uttanasana (Squat and Rise pose)

This asana helps to strengthen the muscles in the back, uterus, thighs, and ankles by stretching them. This asana tones the pelvic girdle and is akin to sweeping the floor. As a result, shipping is quick and simple.

How To Practice

  1. Stand with your toes pointing outwards and your legs one meter apart. Clasp both hands and hang them freely in front of you. 
  2. Deep inhale. Bend knees sideways over toes, lowering buttocks while keeping upper body and spine straight.
  3. To maintain the knee stable, the knees should bend outward with the toes. DON’T BEND FORW. Gradually lower to 20 cm, 30 cm, and then to the floor.
  4. Inhale, straighten your back.
  5. During squatting, keep the trunk still.
  6. Practicing in phases for 5-10 rounds is recommended.

Pranayam (Breathing Technique)

Pranayam is not only beneficial during pregnancy, but it is also a blessing from Ayurveda to the human species in order for it to live a long life. Pranayam is the practise of complete, lengthy, and slow inhalation and exhalation. It has an effect on both the mind and the soul. Pranayam offers additional oxygen to each cell, reviving and energising them. It should be done on a daily basis. It strengthens the neurological system, enhances emotional stability, and assists in the elimination of anxiety, fears, and phobias. It boosts respiratory capacity and stamina and liveliness.

Anulom vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

It provides mental and physical strength to the body. Holding your breath for the longest possible time during labour can be quite beneficial for pushing. It increases oxygenation of the body, which results in an increase in oxygenation of the foetus.

How To Practice

  1. Lie down in a meditative Close your eyes and keep your spine straight.
  2. Clear your mind of all distractions.
  3. Begin on your knees with your outside wrists.
  4. Fold your right middle and index fingers into your palm.
  5. Pinch your thumb and ring finger together on each nostril.
  6. Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through your left nose. Remember to breathe.
  7. Then, with your ring finger, seal your left nostril.
  8. Slowly exhale right nostril.
  9. Inhale via the right nostril and exhale through the left.

Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Humming)

It is a powerful breathing practice for releasing anxiety and anger and for calming the mind. It is extremely beneficial for pregnant women since it facilitates birthing by regulating breathing during the labor process. It enhances concentration and helps the body eliminate toxins.

How To Practice

  1. Close your eyes and sit up straight in a well-ventilated corner. Maintain a nice smile.
  2. Keep your eyes closed. Observe your body’s sensations and inner peace.
  3. Fingers on ears Between your cheek and ear is a cartilage. Fingers on the cartilage
  4. Inhale deeply and slowly exhale the cartilage. You can keep pressing the cartilage or buzzing it like a bee.
  5. You can also make a low-pitched sound, but a high-pitched sound produces greater effects.
  6. Continue breathing in and out 3-4 times additional.

Dhyana (Meditation)

Meditation is a vital component of yoga practice. It is a method of training the mind that integrates strategies for relaxation and internal energy development. Its objective is to improve focus and relax the mind in order to finally achieve a greater degree of awareness. It assists us in achieving a balanced state of mind and body. After a heavy meal, meditation is not recommended. Mudras are hand positions used in yoga that assist in stimulating the body’s various energies.

How To Practice

  1. To perform dhyana, one needs to sit with a straight and erect spine and direct one’s attention to anything, such as OM (the famous mantra).
  2. Dhyana should be practiced for around eight to ten minutes during the beginning stages, and then prolonged according to capability.

Mudras for a Pregnant Woman

It aids in the facilitation of contractions and the relief of nausea, flatulence, and a sense of fullness experienced during pregnancy. It also regulates intentions for pregnancy in order to maintain a happy and healthy state of mind.

Apana Mudra

During labor, it is beneficial to aid in the facilitation of contractions. Additionally, it aids in the recovery process.

How To Practice

  1. Bring your palms together, and your thumbs should connect at the points of both hands.
  2. Then, turn your hands up. The middle and ring fingers, as well as the tiny fingers, are all bent.
  3. They should make a bending motion towards the palm.
  4. The tips of the index fingers should also be in contact with each other.

Gyan Mudra

It is symbolic of mental cleansing.

How To Practice

  1. Make sure your spine is straight whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down.
  2. Your thumb should be touching the tip of your index finger, with the rest of your fingers remaining relaxed.
  3. Keep your attention on your breathing.
  4. Maintain this position for 3 to 5 minutes at a time.

Aakash Mudra

It can be used to help you stay optimistic and healthy during pregnancy by setting intentions.

How To Practice

  1. The first condition for practising Yoga finger mudras is to sit in a position that allows the spine to remain erect for a long time.
  2. Bring the tips of your middle finger and thumb together and softly touch.
  3. The other three fingers are straight and apart.
  4. Rest the palms face up on the respective knees.
  5. Relax the mind, relax the hands, and softly close the eyes.

Pushan Mudra

It is a highly helpful mudra for nausea, flatulence, and the sensation of being full during pregnancy.

How To Practice

  1. First, sit comfortably and rest your hands on your thighs or knees, palms upward.
  2. Mudras are best used in meditation positions like Padmasana, Siddhasana, Swastikasana, Vajrasana, etc.
  3. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, focusing on the process.
  4. Right Hand: Fold your middle and index fingers and tap the tips of both fingers together.
  5. The remaining two fingers should be kept as long as feasible.
  6. With the left hand, bend the ring and small fingers to the tip of the thumb.
  7. The middle and index fingers are straight.
  8. (For upper GI tract issues): Touch the thumb with the index and middle fingers.
  9. Ring and little fingers are straight.
  10. It should also be done with both hands and palms up.
  11. Do this for 30 minutes three times a day, or 10-12 minutes three times a day.

Yoga Bandha

Yoga Bandha are a vital aspect of yogic practise; these are static positions that restrict particular areas of the body, redirecting blood flow to other areas.

MulaBandh (The Root Lock)

MulaBandh is a recommended Bandh for pregnancy. When practised frequently prior to and after conception, it assists in preparing the muscles for an easier delivery. It is also beneficial during pregnancy and postpartum.

How To Practice

  1. To begin, take a long, deep yogic breath that is comfortable and relaxing (diaphragmatic breath).
  2. Sensation of the natural pulling of the belly and vaginal walls towards the cervix when exhaling is recommended (Mula Bandha).
  3. Take a deep breath and feel the release.
  4. Now, exhale and bring the vaginal walls towards one other, elevating them as high as is comfortable for your body.
  5. Take a deep breath and then let go of the lift.
  6. Take a deep breath and repeat steps no. 4 above.

Precaution

It is also critical to exercise caution when practising yoga.

  • To avoid exhaustion and overwork during the second and third trimesters, time spent practising asanas should be minimised.
  • Concentrate more on meditation and breathing.
  • Additionally, it is not recommended to increase your practice from the tenth to fourteenth weeks of pregnancy, as these are critical weeks.
  • Avoid excessive abdominal stretching, avoid inversions, and focus shoulder and upper back twisting.

Conclusion

Yoga is a simple-to-modify workout that can help both mother and fetus when practised routinely throughout pregnancy. Pregnant women’s increased strength and fitness, as well as an improved sense of well-being, may be the driving force behind yoga’s many advantages. Yoga is safe for pregnant women if practiced correctly, and scientific evidence suggests show that it is beneficial to the baby.

Reference

  1. Beddoe, A. E., & Lee, K. A. (2008). Mind-body interventions during pregnancy. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing37(2), 165-175.
  2. Barker, D. J., Eriksson, J. G., Forsén, T., & Osmond, C. (2002). Fetal origins of adult disease: strength of effects and biological basis. International journal of epidemiology31(6), 1235-1239.
  3. Sadhguru on Pregnancy & Motherhood – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_16_fWrQYMg&t=2s)
  4. Curtis, K., Weinrib, A., & Katz, J. (2012). Systematic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine2012.
  5. Styles, A., Loftus, V., Nicolson, S., & Harms, L. (2019). Prenatal yoga for young women a mixed methods study of acceptability and benefits. BMC pregnancy and childbirth19(1), 1-12.
  6. Jahdi, F., Sheikhan, F., Haghani, H., Sharifi, B., Ghaseminejad, A., Khodarahmian, M., & Rouhana, N. (2017). Yoga during pregnancy: The effects on labor pain and delivery outcomes (A randomized controlled trial). Complementary therapies in clinical practice27, 1-4.
  7. Mitchell, Jennifer, Tiffany Field, Miguel Diego, Debra Bendell, Rae Newton, and Martha Pelaez. “Yoga reduces prenatal depression symptoms.” Psychology 3, no. 09 (2012): 782.
  8. Rakhshani, A., Nagarathna, R., Mhaskar, R., Mhaskar, A., Thomas, A., & Gunasheela, S. (2012). The effects of yoga in prevention of pregnancy complications in high-risk pregnancies: a randomized controlled trial. Preventive medicine55(4), 333-340.
  9. Thakur, J. (2016). Yoga in pregnancy: A boon to motherhood. Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine (JAHM)3(6), 121-129.

Author

Neha
Neha

I am a food technologist. I cherish working on interesting topics and will be ready to take the challenge into sharp output. I like to study and learn while working. My work describes me. Good content allows me to talk with people without speaking a word.

Neha has authored the following key articles on the World Yoga Forum.
Top 50 Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises and Benefits
Mindfulness
Yoga for Anxiety
Yoga For Back Pain
Yoga For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Yoga For Better Digestion
Yoga For Depression
Yoga For Osteoporosis
Yoga For Pregnancy
Yoga for Menstruation 
Yoga For Menopause

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