Yoga is often utilized as a means to improve health. As a form of exercise, yoga can improve physical health, but it can also improve mental health. The incorporation of breathing exercises and meditation in yoga serves as a means of relaxation and stress management. For women who are pregnant, yoga can aide in the management of psychological distress both before and after birth.
Various studies have been conducted to determine the effects of yoga on pregnant women. Some of the benefits of yoga also include guidance for stress-management during labor and birth, the easing of stress and anxiety, improved breathing strategies during birth, reduced pain and labor time, decreased symptoms of depression, and an environment that fosters relationships. The breathing and meditation exercises may offer more to the women than the actual poses. Breathing is used to reduce stress by relaxing the abdominal muscles, and it also increases lung capacity and oxygenation.
To foster a positive environment, yoga instructors should have chairs present for the participants, they should include time for social interaction, and they should avoid using scents during the class so as not to provoke anyone experiencing morning sickness or nausea. Safe postures and positive health outcomes should be stressed during the class as well.
Some good yoga poses for pregnant women include seated meditation, seated forward bend, chair squat, tree, and cat/cow. Inversions (headstands, crow pose) should be avoided.
Yoga can provide many benefits to women who are pregnant. While it is best to get medical clearance by a doctor before practicing, the outcomes can lead to a better pregnancy. The breathing and meditation aspect of yoga offers opportunities to improve breathing strategies that will be used during childbirth, and they serve as a means of relaxation and stress-management.
Bonura, K. B. (2014, October). Yoga Mind While Expecting: The Psychological Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Practice. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 29(4), 49-54.