I have definitely learned alot about myself and my body through this process, and one thing I have grown much greater appreciation for is my practice of yoga. As so many of you have already heard, prenatal yoga is recommended for many reasons; builds strength, increases circulation, breath work practice and so on and so forth. These are all very true and I would love to give you my take on the Top 5 reasons why I practice prenatal yoga and will continue to practice it for all my pregnancies.
#1 - All those aches and pains seem to go away
I have heard of so many women who suffer through many different pains during pregnancy, back pain, hip pain, leg pain, neck pain, etc. I am here to tell you that with a daily practice of just a few asanas ( poses) those aliments will begin to decrease, if not go away completely. Up to about week 26, I didn't have too many restrictions to my practice ( besides laying on my back and a few forward folds) so the ease of practicing what I needed for my body was much easier. Now that I am in the thick on my third trimester, my movements have definitely become slower and I choose to practice only a few poses, due to range of belly motion and energy level. With only practicing a few poses, I have yet to suffer from back pain, neck pain, or hip pain. The joints my fingers are beginning to become sore but with a few stretches through my hands and arms, they seem to go away. I have practiced yoga through out my pregnancy and have experienced a little amount of discomfort/pain. My biggest suggestion, start as early as possible and find a routine that works for you!
*That being said, of course not all pains of pregnancy will simple go away by doing a few stretches. And I absolutely know that every womens body is different and pregnancy will treat it differently for sure.
#2 - Mat time is MY time
During pregnancy, there is so much focus on you AND your baby. Your family, your friends, and the lady in the grocery store line will want to know how you are feeling and every stat on your future child. Your whole being in consumed with the safety and protection of your unborn fetus. That is all you think about! And not going to lie, this constant miracle that is growing within you sure can take a toll on your own personal well being at times. This is why mat time is my time. I use this time for me, my body and my needs. If my hips are feeling tight, then I will focus on my hips. If my shoulder is wonky, I will focus on my shoulder ( the emphasis on MY here). It is time for me to breath and come back to my personal intentions. All mamas need their own personal time and especially to practice this before babe comes. If your mat becomes a routine before babe comes, then hopefully it will stay a routine after baby comes ( HOPEFULLY!)
#3 - Breathing Practice (Pratyahara) for Birth
There is no greater time then on your mat to practice your breathing. Before I begin my asanas, I always go through different breathing exercises that I will use during labor and birth. They are ujjayi breathing and the 3 step yogic breath. Just as we practice poses, we must also take time to practice our breathing especially if we are choosing for them to help us through the intensity of labor. Coming back to my breath also helps to decrease my anxiety ( which has heightened during pregnancy). Life is dependent on our breath, and now another is too. It is a beautiful connection that I will cherish until I finally get to met her in person.
#4 - Helps to keep those pesky pounds off!
The practice of yoga is also a great form of exercise for mamas to be. The continual movement of the body and breath will help to bring your heart rate up, strengthen your muscles, lengthen your hips and lower back and bring a physical purpose to your practice. This is one of the many benefits to processing yoga, pregnant or not. Yet as we grow, we begin to gain those pesky pregnancy pounds whether we like it or not and let me tell you, just a few poses a few days a week can still bring strength to your body. Especially in the first and third trimester, when walking down the hall is an accomplishment, just throw your mat down and go through five poses that make you happy. If anything, you will feel much more accomplished in the end and perhaps they'll deliver a smile to your face.
#5 - Setting an intention for your Babe
I know they can't really hear us, or see what we are doing, or realize how much love we bring to them everyday, but I feel by practicing yoga through out your pregnancy, you are setting up the framework for a well developed spiritual relationship for you and your babe. Yoga goes so far beyond movement, it is a personal path that we take to help us understand our purpose and intention in life. By practing this, we are bringing this reality to our babe, and with guidance, I hope my babe will continue this practice in her own life. We can't predict or force a future for our children, but as long as we love them in the moment, then their lives will continue to flourish and be filled with love as well.
Those are the reasons why I practice during my pregnancy. Of course, this is my first, I have not gone through labor yet and I have yet to raise a child ( stay tuned for posts in regards to all three of those!). But, I choose to live in the moment of happiness and love and in this moment these 5 reasons ring true to me. I am grateful for each blissful moment on my mat, for me and for my future babe.
Hair Om Tat Sat - Let go, Let God.