Yoga: It is this ancient form of exercise that has contributed in the holistic living of individuals in the most natural and trusted way since years. Yoga is like a spiritual route to a relaxed mind and healthy body.
In times of pregnancy, when women are battling mood swings at varying levels, fatigue and sickness, painful leg cramps and breathing problems; yoga exercises, techniques and postures ease all such conditions ensuring a period of relieved nine months followed by an easier labour and smooth delivery.
Former Miss Universe and Bollywood actress Lara Dutta who recently became a mother of a baby girl launched her prenatal yoga DVD titled 'Heal with Lara' under pre-natal yoga expert Tonia Clarke. Her initiative is just another example of stating the significance of pregnancy yoga that is developing as an important fitness trend among would-be mothers.
Women who are regulars would require minor modifications to their yoga routine during pregnancy months when the body is undergoing hormonal changes. The aim of pregnancy yoga is to help the mother bring the unborn into the world with minimum hassle and completely no health complications. Positions and exercises practiced across the three trimesters of pregnancy differ with every phase. It isn't just about yoga; it is about doing it under expert supervision and favourable environment.
A pregnant woman must take into consideration her health history before beginning with the exercises. For those who are doing yoga for the first time and have not been following a regime otherwise should not rush into the same without prior medical consent. The first three months are the most crucial and chances of miscarriage are high; therefore utmost caution is paramount during this time.
With all clauses and health tips in mind, let us now move forward to the 'asanas' most recommended for would-be-mothers. Yoga postures mentioned below focus on strengthening the pelvic muscles that help enhance the womb space for the healthy growth of the foetus. Yoga teacher and nutritionist Abhilasha Kale believes that, "The benefits of asanas are many. By doing regular exercises, a lot of happy hormones are released called 'endorphins' that keep a mother energetic and positive sans the deterring and erratic mood swings coming in way."
Here's a list of the top exercises that Abhilasha suggests women to attempt during pregnancy months. She also guides us on doing them correctly:
-Sit erect with feet stretched in front (parallel).
-Inhale and raise your arms at shoulder level, palms facing down.
-Exhaling, twist your body from waist towards your right moving head and hands simultaneously to the same side. Swing arms back as much as possible. Do not bend your knees.
-Inhale and come back to original position maintaining your hands shoulder level and parallel to each other.
-Repeat on other side.
Benefit-Your spine, legs, hands, neck are exercised along with gentle massage to abdominal organs.
Utkatasana (Chair pose)
- Strengthens thigh and pelvic muscles
-Stand erect with feet 12 inches apart. Keep your feet parallel to each other.
-Inhale for 2 seconds and raise your heels and arms at shoulder level, palms facing down simultaneously.
-Exhale slowly; sit in squat pose, on your toes. If not comfortable standing on your toes, stand normally keeping feet flat on the ground.
-Keeping your hands in the same position, inhaling, get up slowly and stand on your toes.
-Exhale, hands down and heels down simultaneously.
Konasana (Angle pose)
- Flexibility of waist and fat remains under control in the waist region
-Stand erect with feet 24 inches apart. You can do this asana with the support of wall.
-Raise your right hand up keeping elbow straight. Give a nice upward stretch and while you inhale, bend sideward towards your left. Exhale and come back and put your hand down.
-Repeat the same with other side.
- Strengthens abdominal, pelvic and thigh muscles
-Lie down on your back. Straighten your legs. Keep your knees together.
-Now, fold your right leg in the knee at the side of your posterior. Breathe normally. Hold the position as long as you're comfortable and repeat the same on other side. Straighten your leg.
-Repeat with the left leg.
Hast Panangustasana (Extended hand to big tow pose)
- Strengthens pelvic and thigh muscles
-Lie down on your back. Straighten your legs. Keep your body in one line.
-Your hands in T-position, palms facing down.
-Slide right leg towards your right side. Don't try very hard. Hold toe with your right hand if possible.
-Sliding your leg come back to original position.
-Repeat the same on left side.
Bhadrasana (Butterfly pose)
- Strengthens inner thighs and pelvic region
-Sit on the mat with legs fully stretched.
-Keeping the legs in contact with the mat, form 'Namaste' with your feet. -Sit erect, without leaning forward. Place your hands on knees or thighs. Hold the posture till the time you feel comfortable.
-Straighten your legs and repeat again.
- Improves body posture, relief in backache
-Sit on the mat in sukhasna, padmasana or ardhapadmasana.
-Sit straight and while you inhale, raise your arm and join your palms in 'Namaste' position. Keep your elbows straight. Hands are near to your ears. Hold the position for a few seconds and come back to normal position again.
-Repeat 2-3 times
Yastikasana (Stick pose)
- Corrects posture, body gets stretched, relieves body tension
- Lie down on your back. Straighten your legs. Keep your body in one line. Knees and feet are together. Feet point upward. Hands rest on the sides.
-Inhale and raise your hands; rest them on the floor and stretch upward. Push your toes out simultaneously.
-Exhale, raise your hands and come back into normal position.
-Repeat 3-4 times with in between breaks.
Some important reminders/safety measures:
- Mothers with condition of asthma can try the above mentioned asanas but shouldn't hold or suspend breath during the practice of pranayams/asanas.
- On the basis of pregnancy trimesters there are certain exercises that cannot be carried throughout all pregnancy months. Konasana (angle pose) for instance should not be continued post seven months of pregnancy. Once the mother feels uncomfortable doing an asana, it is advisable to stop immediately without further straining the muscles.
- Avoid forward bending asanas (strong back bends, such as the boat pose), inverted poses and exercises that might put pressure on the abdomen. Asanas that require lying down on the weight of your stomach should be strictly avoided.
- Exercises involving balance should be done with utmost care.
- Please avoid hurrying into weight-loss exercise regime immediately after delivery. Post-natal yoga (post six weeks after birth) and exercises should be practiced only when the mother's body is fully ready and relaxed.
- Simple stretching exercises encourage circulation, help fluid retention, and relieve stress
- If mothers feel pain or nausea doing any of the exercises, then they should stop immediately and consult doctor.