Oman wellness: Prenatal yoga for a healthy and joyful pregnancy
August 5, 2017 | 8:04 PM
by Dr Ashwini Gaddikeri
Prenatal yoga can be started in the first trimester and can be continued till the day of delivery.

Yoga is a commonly known generic term for the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace. It is practiced in many different ways all over the world. Yoga has also been popularly defined as “union with the divine” in other contexts and traditions.

Prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe and can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies.

Research suggests that prenatal yoga can:

• Improve sleep

• Reduce stress and anxiety

• Increase the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth

• Decrease lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, headaches

• When paired with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking or swimming, yoga can be an ideal way to stay in shape during your pregnancy. This age-old practice keeps you limber, tones your muscles, and improves your balance and circulation, with little, if any, impact on your joints.

Prenatal yoga can also help you meet and bond with other pregnant women and prepare for the stress of being a new parent. Being in a positive, supportive environment with others like you, can give you a regular emotional boost and keep you motivated to continue exercising.

Yoga is also beneficial because it helps you learn to breathe deeply and relax, which help during labour, birth, and motherhood. A regular yoga practice will help you fight the urge to tighten up when you feel pain, and show you how to relax instead.

Along these same lines, according to a report in the April 2009 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, rigorous studies have found scientific proof that yoga helps the body deal with stress by slowing heart and breathing rates and lowering blood pressure — which can benefit new moms after the baby’s born, too.

Yoga safety precautions during pregnancy

As with any exercise, you need to take certain general precautions when you’re pregnant.

• Consult your obstetrician before starting any form of exercise.

• Always have an instructor who is trained in prenatal yoga.

• Keep yourself well hydrated.

• Avoid overheating. Wear loose clothes.

• Avoid asanas which involve lying on your back for longer time. Also, skip positions that stretch the abdominal muscles too much, such as deep forward and back bends and deep twists.

• Discontinue at once if you experience pain in abdomen or bleeding or leaking of fluid from vagina. Rush to your doctor immediately.

Prenatal yoga can be started in the first trimester, i.e., from the time you get pregnant, and can be continued till the day of delivery. Later, it can be replaced by postnatal yoga, after the period of puerperium.

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Dr Ashwini Gaddiker is specialist gynaecologist, Burjeel Medical Centre

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