Prenatal Yoga 101

“Keep calm and carry on” should be every expectant new mom’s slogan. Some of the most important things a pregnant woman can do are stay calm, reduce stress levels, and keep her body in the best shape possible. Fortunately, there’s a form of exercise that can help with all these and more: prenatal yoga. Check with your doctor to see if prenatal yoga could be a good fit for you, and read on to learn the benefits and tips for each trimester.

Potential Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

It does a body good. Yoga helps keep you limber, and improves balance and circulation. It also helps strengthen muscles, which provides stamina for childbirth and gives you greater flexibility when finding the best birth position for delivering your new baby.

It teaches you how to breathe easier. Yoga practice utilizes deep breathing, which can help you keep you calm when you need it most. Some yoga methods and classes will also teach you how to breathe through discomfort or pain, which you can utilize during labor, as well as how to relax your muscles, which can make for an easier delivery.

It keeps you centered. Yoga is all about focusing on the present, how your body is feeling, and the sensations you’re experiencing at any given moment. This focus may help you tune into your body’s needs, even after your new baby arrives.

It helps you sleep better. Because yoga may help reduce back and neck pain, and nausea, many expectant moms find they are able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer once they adopt a regular yoga practice.

Tips by Trimester

To stay safe, follow this trimester-by-trimester advice.

First trimester There aren’t many restrictions during this time, but instructors advise expectant new moms to drink lots of water before, during, and after the class. Listen to your body and if you feel any pain or discomfort, stop the pose immediately and ask your instructor for an alternate position.

Second trimester Your expanding stomach will start to affect your balance at this point. Don’t try to hold poses for a long time, and remember to sink into each pose slowly and carefully to avoid injury. Take your time and don’t overdo it. Avoid lying flat on your back now, too, in order to keep blood flowing properly to your uterus.

Third trimester At this point in your pregnancy, it’s best for expectant moms to perform all standing poses with heels to the wall, or using a chair for support to avoid maintain balance. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through difficult poses with greater stability.

If you do decide to give yoga a go during pregnancy, make sure to find a studio with an instructor who is trained to work with new moms-to-be. And have fun! You may love the benefits of yoga so much that you continue to do it past your pregnancy.