The practice of yoga has many documented health benefits. But did you know that prenatal yoga has been proven to offer numerous specific benefits to women who are expecting?
One of the reasons prenatal yoga is recommended for expectant mothers is that many of the poses are designed to strengthen core muscles and increase muscle tone and flexibility – obviously beneficial during childbirth. Yoga may even increase stamina, a quality certainly needed by new moms.
Physicians and fitness experts note that there are several key benefits associated with prenatal yoga:
- Stress reduction. Because yoga focuses on deep breathing and relaxation it can significantly lower stress levels for expectant mothers.
- Improved mental and physical wellbeing. Research has found that prenatal yoga offers decreased risk of prenatal depression, more restful sleep, decreased back pain and nausea, which are common during pregnancy.
- It can prepare expectant moms for labor. The deep breathing practiced in yoga coupled with the strength-building poses can prepare a woman for one of the most physically rigorous challenges she will likely face.
- It can keep you fit. Prenatal yoga is extremely popular with celebrity moms because of its ability to make it easier to get their pre-pregnancy figure back. The gentle stretches and moves targeting the needs of pregnant women are preferable over many high-impact workouts.
A study published in 2012 also found that prenatal yoga may help prevent certain pregnancy complications. According to research published in the Preventive Medicine journal, practicing yoga for one hour, three times per week decreased the chances of having a low birth weight infant, and also lowered the risk of high blood pressure and pregnancy-induced diabetes.
Staying fit while eating for two is a challenge faced by all pregnant women. While yoga is often viewed as a low-impact activity, the fact is, a yoga class can help you significantly burn calories, increase muscle tone and maintain flexibility. All of these factors contribute to maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy. Another plus is the fact that prenatal yoga classes are available in a variety of styles and difficulty levels, including slow and relaxing, meditative, restorative and more vigorous classes, depending on the woman’s preference.
Before embarking on any new fitness regime, expecting moms should consult with their healthcare provider to see if prenatal yoga is a right for them.