When a woman is pregnant, some would think that they should rest and avoid too many physical activities. Carrying another human being inside your belly is no piece of cake. Therefore, moving around excessively might cause complications right? Yes and no.
Every expectant mother should be taking precautions in their day to day activities. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t have any physical activity at all. In fact, exercising is important in a woman’s life during pregnancy. This will help prepare her body for labor.
In this blog post, we’ll tell you all about the exercise that’s perfect in preparing pregnant women for childbirth—prenatal yoga.
What is Prenatal Yoga?
Prenatal yoga is a type of yoga class that is dedicated to women undergoing pregnancy. It involves the execution of various yoga poses that are meant to strengthen the body and prepare it for labor. Delivering a baby can put a lot of stress on the body of a woman. Therefore, it’s essential to be ready so that when the time comes, she can give birth without suffering too much from its side effects.
Prenatal yoga poses can vary, depending on each trimester. The poses are tailor-fit to the situation of the woman during each period of her pregnancy. The closer she is to giving birth, the more careful she has to be.
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
It’s safe to continue or start a physical activity like yoga practice if you’re healthy or if your pregnancy is normal. Don’t worry about issues like miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery because exercising will not cause these to happen.
However, it’s extremely important to discuss this matter first with your obstetrician. Exercising is generally safe as long as you’re healthy or you have a normal pregnancy but there’s no harm in taking precautions. You may consult this during your prenatal visits. If your obstetrician gives you the go signal, then you can discuss the following physical activities you can engage in along the way.
What are the benefits of practicing prenatal yoga poses?
Prenatal yoga is a great way to remain physically active during pregnancy. It’s gentle, low-impact, but will do wonders for your body. It offers various benefits that will help prepare pregnant women both physically and mentally for labor. It also has long-lasting effects even after pregnancy because it helps establish a deeper connection between the mother and the child inside her womb.
You can try practicing yoga on your own at home with your spouse but if you want the experience, you should try to join Prenatal Yoga classes in Singapore.
Below are the following benefits prenatal yoga can give:
Expectant mothers need to keep themselves physically strong and healthy. Fortunately, prenatal yoga practice will help keep them in shape. It’s an effective workout that will strengthen their muscles, increase their flexibility, develop their balance, and improve their circulation. Prenatal yoga is also safe enough for them to engage in, as long as it’s approved by their respective doctors.
Good for relaxation
The idea of giving birth (or being a mother in general, if this is your first time) can be quite nerve-wracking. Sometimes, women may experience anxiety during their pregnancy. Extreme stress is not good for a pregnant woman so it’s important to find ways how to relax. Prenatal yoga requires you to breathe deeply, making you feel more relaxed. Doing the yoga poses will release the tension in the body and improve circulation.
A good preparation
Prenatal yoga practice will prepare you for the challenges brought about by childbirth. The body tends to produce less oxytocin, a hormone that helps with the progression of labor, whenever it is in pain. By regularly practicing prenatal yoga, you will be able to handle stressful situations better and your body will no longer tighten up whenever it feels pain. This will be an essential key to a smoother delivery.
Lowers risk for the mother and child
Studies have found that prenatal yoga practice actually reduces the risk of having pregnancy complications. This includes lowering pain and stress levels as well as reducing the risk of delivering a baby that is too small for his or her gestational age. Gestational refers to the period of time between the conception of the baby to the actual birth.
Joining a community
Joining a prenatal yoga class is not just good for your physical and mental needs, it’s also great for your social. Here, you will get to meet and establish new friendships with other pregnant women. You will become a part of a community where you can share your pregnancy journey. This can also help make the process seem less scary because you have people who are in the same situation as you.
6 Prenatal Yoga Poses for the First Trimester of Pregnancy
The first trimester is an exciting part of your pregnancy because this is where the journey of motherhood begins. This begins from the first day of your last menstruation, before you’re actually pregnant, and lasts until the end of the 13th week. This is when rapid changes take place in you and your baby.
Some women experience glowing and maintain good health, but some are not so lucky. In varying cases, there are instances of bleeding, breast tenderness, fatigue, food likes and dislikes, heartburn, and others. There’s also the infamous morning sickness, weight gain, and mood swings.
As for the baby, this is the time when it fully develops into a fetus. The major organs and systems are also beginning to form.
At the earliest phase of your pregnancy, you can begin your prenatal yoga journey here. Listed below are the following yoga poses that are safe for you to do during the first trimester of your pregnancy:
1. Easy Pose
It’s named the way it is because it is a simple pose that you can do. But despite its easy nature, it is an important pose that will beautifully connect a mother and baby.
- Be in a comfortable sitting position.
- Put a hand over your heart and the baby in your belly as you lengthen your spine.
- With every inhale you fill your tummy with air, making enough room for your child.
- Every exhale will draw your baby in.
- While doing this pose, try to think about a special wish or motivation for your journey to motherhood. Do this for 5 to 10 breaths.
Tip: For added support and comfort, try sitting on a bolster or a block. Comfort is important here so you can focus well on your child.
2. Cat-Cow Pose
This is a famous yoga pose that can be found in many yoga classes. It’s great for warm-ups because it improves spinal mobility and also develops core strength, two important factors for a healthier pregnancy.
- Go on all fours on the yoga mat. Make sure that your hands are beneath your shoulders and your knees are below your hips. Your spine should be in a neutral state, like a cow.
- As you exhale, arch your back upwards into a Cat pose, drawing your little one in and up. Keep your gaze fixated on your belly as you do this.
- As you breathe in, return your spine to normal. Do this continuously for 5 to 10 breaths.
Tip: For women who experience backaches or back pains, remember not to exaggerate your cow pose and just concentrate on holding a strong neutral position.
3. Bird Dog Pose
This is a complicated-looking but simple yoga pose that’s great for developing core stability in the abdominal muscles, hips, pelvic floor, and shoulders. At the early stages of your pregnancy, you can still do this on all fours.
- Go on all fours on the yoga mat.
- As you breathe out, lift the opposite arm and leg and keep them straight. Make sure that you are not wobbling or whatsoever. Keep yourself steady while using slow movements.
- As you inhale, bring your arm and leg back to the mat. Then, do the same process for the other leg and arm.
- Do this continuously 10 to 12 times for each side.
Tip: As your belly grows bigger, you can apply some modifications to this position. When you’re in the second trimester, you can move your raised arm and leg in and out instead of just holding them up in the air. This is to protect your ab muscles, not because you cannot physically do it.
4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose
This yoga pose is very common and known to help increase blood and oxygen circulation to the head. You can do its original form at the earliest phase of your pregnancy but as your belly grows bigger, remember to modify it to avoid putting yourself or your baby at risk.
- Start a tabletop position. Keep your palms planted firmly on the mat and your fingers spread.
- Inhale to curl your toes and engage your shoulders.
- As you exhale, gently lift your knees and straighten your legs.
- Inhale again as you keep your torso lowered to the floor. Lengthen your spine.
- As you exhale, lower your heels towards the floor. Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
Tip: If you ever feel nauseated (which is common at this stage of pregnancy), try to sit in Staff Pose instead. Do this by extending your legs in front of you as you lengthen your upper body toward the ceiling.
5. Pigeon Pose
This pose is important in stretching the hips and thighs. It’s often used to cool down after executing challenging yoga poses. This helps release tension in the hips and lower back while you’re pregnant.
- You can either start from a downward-facing dog pose or a tabletop position.
- Stretch one leg behind you. Let the forward leg rest between your hands as you bend its knee. This should make your back leg extended out straight behind you but planted against the mat.
- Use the strength of your arms on your sides for support in propping you up. Make sure that both sides of your hips are level with each other.
- Lengthen your spine as you walk your hands in front of you and fold your upper body over your front thigh. To feel the deep stretch better, allow yourself to sink into your hips.
Tip: If there is a huge difference between the height and position of each hip, grab a folded blanket and place it under the hip of your bent leg for support.
6. Garland Pose
This seems like being in a squatting position—because it is. This is a great pose for opening up the hips and improve pelvic awareness. It also helps in practicing the right breathing techniques for labor.
- Simply go into a squatting position.
- Keep your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold the position for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Tip: Sit on a cushion or a rolled blanket to keep you supported. If you are 34 weeks into your pregnancy, practicing deep or unsupported squats is not advised.
6 Prenatal Yoga Poses for the Second Trimester of Pregnancy
The second trimester is the point where you are beginning to look and feel more pregnant. It’s roughly at the fourth, fifth, or sixth month of your baby-carrying journey.
It’s funny because compared to the first trimester, you will be feeling much better and energized at this stage. No more morning sickness, no more nausea. This is where your belly starts to grow more visible and your baby is starting to move. Exciting times!
Now, here are the following yoga poses that you can practice during the second trimester:
1. Puppy Pose
This is called a Puppy Pose because you look like one as you do it. This is great for removing the pressure off the pelvic floor and cervix. It’s perfect for pregnant women because it stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and relieves issues like back pain, fatigue, and headaches.
- Start on an all-fours on the yoga mat.
- Walk your hands in front of you until your head is between your forearms. Plant your palms firmly to the mat and keep your elbows and forearms lifted.
- You can spread your knees more apart to make enough room for your baby but avoid letting your belly drop toward the floor.
- You can let your head or chin come to the floor.
- Let your spine lengthen and keep your shoulders open. Hold this position for 3 to 5 breaths.
2. Side Angle Pose
If you’re feeling a little sluggish while carrying the child in your belly, this pose can help with that. This is a much-needed stretch that requires strong legs and opens up the hips.
- Stand tall. Spread your legs apart in a wide parallel stance and raise your arms straight at your sides.
- Twist your left leg outward so the center of your kneecap is aligned with the center of your left ankle. Bend your left knee while keeping your right leg straight.
- Lower your left hand to the floor right in front of your left foot. Extend your right arm toward the ceiling and lengthen the entire right side of your body. Follow your gaze to your raised arm.
- Repeat this on the other side.
3. Goddess Pose
This yoga pose is a perfect way to prepare yourself for childbirth. The position strengthens your legs and opens up your hips. This is quite similar to the position you will be in as you give birth to your child so it’s best to do it daily for at least 5 minutes.
- Stand with your legs wide open. Turn the toes and soles of your feet out and make sure that your knees are pointed in the same direction as your toes.
- Lower yourself down into a squatting position. Sink your hips at knee level.
- Place one hand on your heart and another one on your stomach. Close your eyes, soften your upper body, and just breathe. Allow yourself to connect with your little one.
- Hold the pose for 1 to 5 minutes.
4. Seated Forward Bend Pose
This is a good pose to do to improve sleep. Some pregnant ladies experience difficulty in sleeping. However, lack of proper rest is not good for the health. Try doing this pose before bedtime to help you sleep faster and better.
- Sit up straight with your legs extended in front of you.
- Try to reach for your toes. Stop if it hurts because it means you’re reaching too far.
- With every exhale, try to reach forward a little more.
- Keep your spine straight as much as you can. Slightly bend your knees to help out.
- Breathe in and out slowly and deeply.
5. Triangle Pose
This is a pose that’s very common in various yoga styles. It’s ideal for soon-to-be-mothers because it provides benefits such as strengthening the back and spine, opening the chest and shoulders, and improving digestion.
- Stand with your legs wide apart. As you inhale, raise your arms sideways so they are parallel to the floor.
- As you exhale, bend sideways to the right and touch your right foot with your right hand. At the same time, you should be raising your left arm to the sky.
- Hold the posture, inhale, then go back to the standing position. Repeat the same for the other side.
6. Standing Upward Stretch Pose
This posture is centered on working the muscles of the arms and shoulders. If you’re suffering from back or shoulder stiffness, executing this pose will help relieve it.
- While standing, extend your arms up to the sky as you breathe in. Stretch them out as much as you can and then slowly relax as you release your breath.
- Do it alternately by stretching one arm at a time. Don’t forget to inhale as you raise an arm and to exhale as you relax them.
- Repeat this cycle at a normal speed about 5 to 6 times.
6 Prenatal Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
This might be the most exciting part of your pregnancy because your belly would probably be really big and developed! Your baby is now waiting to come out, so this is an even more crucial time to prepare for his or her arrival. Feelings of tiredness and worry from carrying another human being may soon develop into pure anticipation.
Here are the safe yoga poses that you can do at the third trimester of pregnancy:
1. Hip Circle Pose
This offers a rather dynamic stretch of the hips and the lower back. It also engages the core, improving its strength and stability.
- From an all-four position, gently circle your hips around in one direction while keeping your knees slightly bent.
- Do the exercise slowly and keep doing several circles in one direction before pausing and changing sides.
Tip: You can opt to execute this while sitting on a birthing or stability ball, which usually happens for women nearing delivery.
2. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Another hip-opener, this posture is an aid in alleviating lower back pressure and pain. This is also a good pose to do after executing a series of strengthening ones.
- Sit on the mat and bring the palms of your feet together. Make sure that it’s at a comfortable distance from your groin.
- Wrap your hands around your feet and sit tall with your spine lengthened.
- Using your elbows, press your knees gently to the mat to deeply stretch your hips and inner thighs.
- Try to reach your chest forward a bit to increase the stretch even more. Remember to maintain the length of your spine and the space for your stomach as you do this.
- Align your breathing with your stretching. Inhale to prepare for movement and then exhale to move deeper into the stretch.
- For release, return your torso to an upright position and remove your hands from your feet.
3. Bridge Pose
At this point, your pelvis and lower back are carrying quite a load. Fortunately, this posture will help alleviate whatever pain or discomfort that you have on your pelvic bowl.
- Start by lying on your back with your fingertips reaching towards your feet.
- Bend your legs and plant the soles of your feet near where you’re seated at a hip-width distance.
- Gradually lift your hips by rolling through your spine. Keep your spine lengthened.
- Hold the pose for 3 to 5 breaths before gently lowering your hips back to the floor.
Tip: For a more supported version, feel free to use a block or a stack of pillows under your buttocks.
4. Legs Up The Wall Pose
Getting to this pose is not easy, in fact, you might be needing a bit of assistance from your spouse or whoever is there with you at home. This is how you allow gravity to help increase blood flow to your heart. It’s also great for reducing the swelling in the feet and ankles.
- Put a pillow, bolster, or a folded blanket against the wall.
- Sit to the left side of the prop, stack your knees to the left, and move your bottom as close as you can to the wall.
- Gently lower your body so you can lie down on your left side and then roll your bottom against the prop. You will most likely have to scoot your bottom a little bit backward until it touches the wall.
- Raise your legs and keep them at a hip-width distance and then relax.
- Rest in this posture for 6 to 8 breaths.
5. Child’s Pose
This is a wide-legged Child’s Pose that’s a perfect resting position to be in while you’re in between contractions during labor.
- Start from a kneeling position. Bring your toes upward to touch and separate your knees wider than your mat.
- Put a bolster or a stack of pillows on the mat in front of you then slowly lower your upper body. Your head and chest must be completely supported by the pillows, giving enough room for your belly to settle in.
- Let your arms relax on each side of the pillow and enjoy this posture for 6 to 8 breaths.
Tip: Halfway through, turn your head to rest on each side, allowing your neck and shoulders to achieve a more balanced stretch.
This is the perfect posture to do to really get into that physical and mental wellness. After all the stress and discomforts brought about by your situation, this is a time where you can be at peace with the baby inside your belly. This is the perfect time for you to connect with your little one and look forward to your future together.
- Find a comfortable sitting position.
- Do a deep belly breathing technique by placing your hands on your stomach and really feeling the baby inside of it. Breathe slowly and deeply into your belly. Try closing your eyes to really concentrate.
- Try chanting a mantra. This is not a requirement, but it does allow you to absorb the words’ true meaning. You can select a word or a phrase that sends out a message that you really need to hear and feel at that moment.
Want to join a Prenatal Yoga Class?
Here at Sweatbox Yoga, we offer classes led by highly trained yoga instructors that are very much able to guide pregnant women throughout the poses. We understand the importance of expectant mothers keeping an active and healthy lifestyle for both their and their baby’s safety and well-being. Therefore, we want to provide quality classes that will help improve their physical and mental health, preparing them well for labor and motherhood.
When it comes to pregnancy yoga in Singapore, Sweatbox is the expert!