Pregnancy can sometimes feel like a long list of NOT to-do’s, from consuming shellfish, alcohol and caffeine to modifying your exercise and sleep routines. Prenatal yoga, however, is something you can feel good about putting on your “go-ahead-and-do-it!” list. Here’s everything you need know about practicing PG-yoga.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
You don’t have to be an accomplished yogi to participate in – and benefit from – prenatal yoga. As long as your doctor has cleared you for physical activity, yoga is great for all expectant moms. Its gentle movements and mind-body focus can help prepare you for the mental aspects of childbirth and motherhood. Even if you aren’t used to working out regularly, practicing yoga while pregnant can help:
- Lower blood pressure: Studies have shown that pregnant women’s heart rate and blood pressure lowers after doing yoga — even more so than after doing other low-impact exercises like walking.
- Reduce stress: Yoga is a known stress-reducer, and high stress levels have been shown to increase miscarriage and preterm birth rates.
- Stabilize moods: Hormones happen; yoga can help. Studies have shown that integrated yoga, which combines movements with meditation and relaxation and breathing exercises can significantly decreased levels of depression in moms-to-be.
- Manage weight: As with any physical activity, yoga keeps you active, which can help manage prenatal weight gain.
- Improve delivery experience: The breathing exercises you learn in yoga can be upon during labor and delivery. Plus, the core-focused movements of yoga can help both delivery and recovery after baby arrives (whether via vaginal birth or C-section).
What to Expect in Class
If you aren’t taking a class specifically designed for pregnant women, by all means let your instructor know you are expecting so she or he can modify the moves for you. Prenatal yoga classes generally offer gentler, less strenuous sequences of poses. There is also usually a greater use of props such as belts, bolsters, blocks or chairs to make poses comfortable according to what stage of your pregnancy you’re in.
Most prenatal yoga poses focus on the back and lower back, areas vulnerable to pain and injury due to a shifting center of gravity. To help lengthen the spine and relieve pressure and discomfort, your instructor may recommend poses like the Right Angle, where the body is folded at the hips, with the hands resting against a wall and the feet planted firmly on the floor. Side-bending poses are also often incorporated in prenatal yoga. These can help stretch the muscles between the ribs and counteract inward-rolling shoulders caused by the strain of growing breasts.
Things to Avoid
Prenatal yoga classes will not include hot temperatures, and pregnant women should avoid any “hot yoga” classes. You should also avoid poses that require you to lie on your back or twist deeply, as well as forward bends that can compress the belly too much. Moves meant to strengthen the abdominal muscles should also be avoided because they can put too much stress on the rectus abdominus muscles. Balancing poses should be done slowly, using a wall or other strong support to avoid the risk of falling.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and call your doctor:
- Fluid leaking from vagina
- Dizziness, shortness of breath or feeling light-headed
- Calf pain or swelling
- If you feel your baby moving less
- If you feel like your baby is pushing down, or if you feel pressure in your pelvis
- If you have belly cramps or backaches
Moms-to-be can enjoy the benefits of yoga any time during pregnancy (with a physician’s permission), and perhaps even more so by seeking out a knowledgeable prenatal yoga instructor. Replenish is offering a prenatal yoga workshop February 11 at the studio in International Falls from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Click here for more information and to register.
The eightfold path in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is called Ashtanga, which translates to “eight limbs”. These eight steps act as guidelines on how to live a life full of meaning & purpose. They serve as a guide for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they help to direct attention toward health and they help us to recognize the spiritual aspects of our nature. Below we will explore the Eight Limbs and their meanings:
Yamas– The five restraints – how we live in the world/externally
- Nonviolence – the required gentleness for ourselves and all others required for the first step of peace
- Truthfulness – the honesty to live in connection with your True Self
- Non Stealing – the ability to not take what is not needed and what is not ours from the plant, others or ourselves
- Non Excess – the ability to not withhold but restrain and experience joy in all things with moderation that allows us to keep balance; to walk with God
- Non Attachment – the ability to live without need
Niyamas– The five observances- how we life with ourselves/internally
- Purity- the effort and ability to live with cleanliness in what we allow in and around our mind, body, and Spirit
- Contentment – the choice to life happily wherever one is
- Change- the ability to evolve and flow with the Live Force
- Self Study- living with reflection and effort for self-appreciation and understanding without judgment
- Surrender- to choose to go along for the ride of Life with the Divine
Asana– the physical poses for the body for the process of preparing the body to sit with effortless effort to meditate. The process of taking care of the physical body our Divine dwells in.
Pranayama– the energy that is represented by the breath and connects us to the internal Divine
Pratyahara – the act of sense withdrawal when the body and breathe are settled, the focus and effective in transporting our focus to a place on our breath
Dharana– the complete concentration on an object, mantra or vision with complete focus
Dhyana– the state of deep meditation when we have a connection of oneness with our focus/world
Samadhi- the connection to the internal Divine often defined as total bliss and beyond all other words.
In conclusion, these guidelines can help you to live a life full of meaning and purpose this is just a scratch of the surface into the eight limbs you can learn more in depth at our 8 Limbs of Yoga class on February 2nd. Thank you for reading!
Set Your Intention for the New Year
By Christa Heibel
If you’re like me (and lots of other folks), you’d much rather plan for the future than look to the past. But the New Year invites us to reflect, and I usually recommend my business clients perform year-end reviews to help them plan for the coming year. This year, I invite you to do the same with a personal review. I’m a proponent of writing goals down, for both business growth and personal development. That said, I think many of us miss a critical first step in the goal-setting process: setting intention.
Thousands of years ago, the sages of India observed that destiny is ultimately shaped by our deepest intentions and desires. The classic Vedic text known as the Upanishads declares, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”
Setting intention is something yogis practice regularly, whether at the beginning of a yoga or meditation session, or the start of the day. Intentions guide our goals and visions and help create clarity in life. As a metaphor, setting an intention is like drawing a map of where you want to go. Without a map (intention), you are driving down a road with no destination in mind.
Consider intention the seed from which your creations – whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening or love – form and flourish. “Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them,” writes Deepak Chopra, M.D., a best-selling author, physician, and founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. “Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish.”
I invite you to explore the idea of setting intention, even if it feels foreign. Some to consider include:
- I intend to manifest happiness naturally.
- I intend to respond first, and then react.
- I intend to witness Divinity in everyone.
- I intend to lead by example.
- I intend to be open to success and abundance.
- I intend to stop taking things personally.
One of my intentions for the New Year is to remain curious and open to new information and opportunity. Your intention is really up to you, just remember to keep it positive and uplifting and give it room to evolve as you grow and change.
I invite you to join me for my class, Meditation for Your Mind’s Health, which begins with setting intention. Also, please share your intentions on the Replenish Facebook page. Maybe you will discover a new friend with the same goals or be inspired by someone else’s dream.
- Read more about the process of setting intentions from Deepak Chopra here.