In honor of International Yoga Day today, let’s revisit prenatal yoga and how the ancient practice can be incorporated into a broad pregnancy health plan along with modern conveniences like drinkable prenatal vitamins. This year’s theme for what is simply called Yoga Day is “Yoga for Health,” a sentiment appropriate for expectant mothers around the world.
Yoga Day is relatively new, dating back only to a 2014 United Nations resolution that created the annual one-day global celebration. The care required to get and remain healthy through pregnancy is not new. Pregnant mothers have sought new remedies for aches, pains and discomfort forever. How might both mother and baby benefit from prenatal yoga – especially if supplemented with modern therapies?
- Improved Circulation. The low-impact exercises of yoga are easier on the joints, and all the stretching and focus on breathing delivers red blood cells and oxygen to joints and muscles taxed by the added weight of the unborn child. Top-level athletes swear by rigorous stretching because it prepares for coming physical demands. No reason why expectant mothers can’t take advantage of elongating muscles and easing blood flow in preparation for the labor to come.
- Supplement It: With a drinkable prenatal vitamin, fortified with iron and B vitamins like folic acid. Drinkable vitamins can be easier on the digestive system than those in pill forms, and are easy on-the-go – like when you’re heading to your yoga session.
- Labor Preparation. Yoga’s deep-breathing techniques, along with strength-enhancing poses, prepare a woman for one of the biggest physical challenges she will face. As noted above, deep breathing and stretching circulates blood through the body, also helping to reduce swelling and boost the immune system – all beneficial for both mother and baby.
- Supplement It: With periodic or consistent massages. A good masseuse will know pressure points and which methods are best to get blood to where it needs to go.
- Increased Strength and Stamina. Many yoga poses aim to strengthen core muscles, precisely an area of a woman’s body that could benefit greatly from some consistent attention. It can be too easy to ignore muscle tone while pregnant with the idea it can be addressed after the birth. First, it may not be that easy down the road. But perhaps more importantly, with prenatal yoga a woman can prepare the environment for the newborn, with added strength to carry the child, and stamina that could come in handy during a prolonged labor.
- Supplement It: With a diet favorable to muscle development, such as protein-rich foods like spinach or peanut butter. We’re not talking body-building here, but enough nutrients to keep core muscle groups satisfied.
Yoga certainly provides a list of other elements that can be beneficial to pregnant women, including:
- Reducing stress. Yoga’s focus on deep breathing and relaxation tends to noticeably lower stress levels for expectant mothers. Focused relaxation addresses high blood pressure, a not-unusual development with pregnancies.
- Mental and physical well-being. Prenatal yoga can provide deeper and more restful sleep, reduced back pain, and lessened nausea, all common ailments during pregnancy.
- Connection with baby. Practicing prenatal yoga means taking moments to slow down, and focus on our bodies. It can be amazing when a body part feels better because of a mental focus on delivering oxygen and blood flow there. That same phenomenon can help the baby, too.
The “Yoga for Health” theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga seeks to generate awareness around the world for the benefits of practicing yoga. It spotlights how yoga can contribute toward achieving a balance between the mind and body.
Yoga poses like the Chest Opener, Goddess Pose or Tree Pose are safe at any stage of pregnancy and are known to strengthen, center and calm an expectant mother’s body and mind.