Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal Yoga

Yoga is a practice, increasingly popular in the West, which links body and mind through postures and the breath. It was systematized over 2000 years ago into a treatise titled, Yoga Sutra by a sage of that time named Patanjali. Yoga, an Eastern tradition offers relief for many of our Western ailments. Through its concentration on the breath, body awareness, and concentration of the mind, it can be the balm our frenzied and rushed selves need.

During pregnancy yoga is especially resplendent. It can offer the mother a time and a space to connect with her growing baby and body and surrender to the process of the pregnancy. The standing poses of yoga allow a woman’s body to adjust to the weight of the pregnancy and to build strength.* The gentle backbends practiced in pregnancy counteract the forward bending posture which comes as a consequence of the increasing weight of the breasts. The breathing used in yoga and as a practice on its own, reinforces the importance of engaging the breath as a means to relaxation. The manipulation and sway of the pelvis in the yoga postures can create the conditions for the baby to enter the pelvis in an optimal position for labor (head down and back towards mom's front.) There are many other common pregnancy complaints and ailments which cab be alleviated or prevented by yoga; lower back pain, sciatica, insomnia, fatigue, carpel tunnel syndrome and difficulty breathing are all soothed by a regular and consistent yoga practice during pregnancy.

The strength, stamina, and focus one builds through prenatal yoga are priceless when it comes time to labor and delivery. Building a repertoire of relaxation tools throughout pregnancy is one of the best ways to prepare for labor and delivery. The body retains the memories of relaxation and strength from the postures and the breathing and applies them to the challenging course of labor. Some practitioners also believe that the perineal integrity achieved through the yoga poses can help to prevent tearing and lessen urinary incontinence in the postpartum. In the over 70 births I've attended I have seen a number of women actually use yoga poses during contractions in order to deal with the pain.

The Yoga Sutra states, "Grace, beauty, strength, energy, and firmness adorn the body through Yoga," qualities revered at all times, but which are particularly appreciated in the walking miracle of pregnancy and birth. Many blessings to you on your journey as a mother!

by Shannon Staloch

*As with any physical practice during pregnancy consult your health care provider before beginning.

--Shannon Staloch has been practicing yoga for twelve years. She is also a student midwife at the National Midwifery Institute and mother to a son who does the perfect Downward Dog (a yoga pose)!

She is currently offering services as a doula, yoga instructor and we hope soon, midwifery. You may reach her at nourished33 'at'

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