There’s a reason why yoga is one of the most popular postnatal and pregnancy classes. It's not just about sitting around cross-legged while plinky plonky music drives you to distraction. It’s really good for both you and your baby during pregnancy and helps your body snap back to shape once your little one has arrived.
With the right instruction, this age-old form of exercise is completely safe to do while pregnant. Yoga has a multitude of health benefits, including toning your muscles, improving your balance and circulation, and keeping your limber.
This age-old form of exercise is completely safe to do and has a multitude of health benefits
Plus, you can do it from the comfort of your own home with the help of a DVD or one of our free online video tutorials.
And once your baby’s arrived, you can even do a spot of yoga with her in tow – a la Giselle Bündchen.
Need more persuading? Read on…
Benefits of prenatal yoga
Yoga will really help you to control your breathing – something that’s key during pregnancy and when you’re in labour. ‘I swear by yogic breathing to help relieve pain in labour – I think it’s better than gas and air.’ says fitness expert Jane Wake.
‘Certain squats and stretches can also help to strengthen and realign the body,’ continues Jane. ‘This will make both you and your baby feel more comfortable. It can also help to relieve pregnancy back pain.’
>> READ: HOW PREGNANCY PILATES COULD HELP YOU PREPARE FOR MOTHERHOOD
It’s advisable to attend a pregnancy-specific yoga class, where the instructor can adapt the movements to match your stage of pregnancy.
‘There are certain rules that every instructor has to be guided by such as not lying on your back after the first trimester but being aware of the effects of hormones that make joints lax,’ says Jane.
You should also expect some Pilates elements in your class. ‘This will help your core control, which is important,’ says Jane. ‘It will strengthen your pelvic floor area and also the deep abdominals/back and shoulder muscles.’ This is all great prep for having a baby as carrying your baby will put extra pressure on your back and shoulders.
>> READ: THE 3 BEST PREGNANCY EXERCISES
Benefits of postnatal yoga
Check with your doctor before starting yoga once you’ve given birth. But, if there have been no complications, it’s usually OK to get back on your yoga mat once you’ve had your six week check-up. If you’ve had a C-section, the general rule is to wait 10 weeks.
‘There are things you can do straight away such as pelvic floor exercises,’ says Jane. ‘It’s best to be guided by a professional as everyone is different but essentially you should start with the exercise you did prenatally and build from there.’
You’ll learn how to control your breathing which, in turn, will help you to relax and clear your mind.
Just like in prenatal yoga, you’ll learn how to control your breathing which, in turn, will help you to relax and clear your mind. Yoga can also be a brilliant way to counteract new mum exhaustion.
‘The calming influence of a class is really beneficial – especially if you’re anxious,’ explains Jane. ‘It’s also important for you to get a bit of “me” time.’
>> READ: 10 OF THE BEST PREGNANCY FITNESS DVDS
Take your baby to yoga
If you can’t bear to be separated from your beautiful baby just yet, find a yoga class that lets you take her along with you. Yoga with your baby can be a great bonding experience and calming for your both.
‘I have women back in my classes with babies who are just a couple of weeks old – but that’s because we are highly trained to know what to do,’ says Jane. ‘Some places won’t allow babies in until they’ve had their six-week check.’
You’ll also help regain your pre-baby figure through core and pelvic floor work, helping your body to gradually – and safely – vanquish its baby weight.
>> READ: HAVE YOU TRIED AQUA NATAL YOGA?
Have you taken up yoga in pregnancy or as a new mum? Let us know how it works for you in the comments box below.