Strike a pose
TOM Kids rolls out the yoga mat and explores the benefits of prenatal yoga for pregnant women
Prenatal yoga is becoming a common practice among mums as they wait for the ‘big day’, and practitioners and medical experts boast not only of its health benefits, but also how it can help expectant mums prepare for labour. However, there are mums who are apprehensive about prenatal yoga and the effects it will have on the body. We speak to Angeline Liew, an experienced certified prenatal yoga instructor at Prana Yoga to get the details.
As with any physical activity undertaken during pregnancy, an expectant mum should take note that while there are many benefits to prenatal yoga and it has been proven that it’s a safe exercise, it may not be for everyone so always check with your medical practitioner.
The benefits of prenatal yoga are manifold and include reducing stress and anxiety, improving sleep patterns, strengthening and increasing the flexibility of the muscles needed for childbirth, and lessening the symptoms all pregnant women suffer at some point like lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and nausea. ‘These days, mums work long hours, which is very sedentary and can lead to aches and back pain. Yoga is a good form of exercise as it focuses on poses, stretches and a strength building routine that can be modified to suit a particular stage of pregnancy,’ noted Liew. She was also quick to point out that there are many mums who are usually very fit – regular gymgoers and marathon runners – who do prenatal yoga as an alternative to their usual exercise regime.
How safe is prenatal yoga?
Every pregnant woman always has one prevailing thought running through her mind, particularly if it’s her first pregnancy – how safe is this? Liew reiterated that prenatal yoga is very safe as only experienced instructors with special certification for prenatal yoga can teach these classes; she also insists on a letter from a doctor/gynaecologist giving the go-ahead for mums to join a class. ‘These classes are not like regular yoga classes as they are not as dynamic, and I always modify the movements to suit the individual’s needs. Most importantly, I keep a close eye on the mums with back pain or any other aches associated with pregnancy.’
Once you have decided to do prenatal yoga there are a few things to take note of: begin prenatal yoga classes during the first trimester, remain hydrated at all times, be aware of how your body feels as being pregnant will induce fatigue so rest when necessary, and always let the instructor know if you’re feeling unwell.
You’ve had the baby… now what?
As every woman who has given birth knows, the aftermath of that life-changing experience is that not only are you now officially a mother, but your body is usually in need of some damage control! There are the lucky ones who slip into their sports attire and hit the gym running in record time, but the majority of new mums are usually ready to do some form of physical activity a couple of months after giving birth (natural delivery). Those who have undergone a C-section are strongly advised to wait at least five months as abdominal surgery takes time to heal.
Postnatal yoga is a relatively new practice and there aren’t many places that offer this sort of programme. Prana Yoga is one of the few centres which has a postnatal programme comprising eight sessions focusing on strengthening pelvic floor muscles, easing back pain and helping with overall wellbeing in a gentle manner, with many women preferring one-to-one sessions. ‘This programme is tailored to help rejuvenate and indulge in some “me time” because once you have a child, you need time to recuperate emotionally and mentally, and postnatal yoga is a great way to begin this journey,’ said Liew.
Being pregnant shouldn’t be an excuse to stop all physical activity, in fact it’s a time to focus on strengthening and preparing for what will probably be the biggest event of your life!