What you need to know about yoga during pregnancy

Nikki Natividad
What you need to know about yoga during pregnancy
Breaking down the preconceptions and myths of a pre-natal yoga class

MANILA, Philippines — When you see a pregnant lady with her bulging second trimester belly, in workout clothes and toting a yoga mat and a bottle of water, you can’t help but feel a little bit alarmed. The first thing going on in your head is probably, “should a pregnant woman be working out?” 

Many of us still have a traditional view of a pregnant woman – she’s plump, she’s slow, she’s not supposed to move around a lot, and she has a free pass with food because she’s eating for two.  

Some things may still be accurate, but some things are also stereotyped views that are simply not true. Some ladies will get really big all around, while some manage to maintain pretty much the same build except with a growing belly. Some ladies get manas, while some don’t. Every pregnancy is different, but depending on how yours is going, some light exercise on a regular basis might actually be encouraged. So is it safe to practice yoga and bust out an inversion every now and then?  

In order to weed out the myths and clarify the do’s and don’ts in a pre-natal yoga practice, we asked yoga instructor and mother of two, JP Abinuman-Cox of Urban Ashram to shed some light on the matter.   

Just take note, before doing anything, get your OB-GYN’s approval first! 

Working on my fitness

Assuming that you are having a normal pregnancy with no complications and you have your OB-GYN’s thumbs up, then exercise is perfectly OK. In fact, it’s encouraged. Just think, at the end of the 9-months is a hospital bed with your name on it. And labor is exactly that: laborious. You could be pushing anywhere from an hour to 3 days, so you’re going to need stamina. 

Now the question is, how much exercise is OK?   

The amount of exercise you can do while pregnant really depends on how regularly you practiced prior to conceiving the bump. If you were not very physical prior to pregnancy, post-conception is not the time to start a rigid fitness routine. If you were already a devout yogi who practiced 4 to 5 times a week, then you might be able to sustain that practice a little while, with a few modifications. But really, maintaining the same intensity is not encouraged.  

The first trimester of pregnancy is the most delicate, so it’s best to take the necessary precautions to avoid any complications. Plus, pregnancy is the process of opening up the body and letting the baby implant itself in your womb, so it’s recommended that you do nothing to close or crunch the body during that time.  

“More than anything, the yoga for the people who had a strong practice prior to pregnancy is to learn to let go of that strong practice, because when you’re pregnant it’s not the time for you to get stronger in terms of the physicality of it, it’s the time for you to let the body let go,”JP remarks. 

Is it worth it? Let me work it 

It’s alright to exercise, but is it worth it?   

Other than the fact that you need the strength during labor, mild exercise prior to popping is great at alleviating the common aches and pains of post-pregnancy. An exercise that is specifically tailored to do this is Birthlight Yoga, where women of all practices and strength levels are welcome to join.  

“Birthlight method is more of like doing short practices with such mindfulness, which makes you relieve any symptoms you are currently facing in that particular moment.” At Urban Ashram, this method is translated into two parts: pre-natal and post-natal. 

Pre-natal yoga classes require no prior experience in yoga; anyone who has gotten the A-okay from their OB-GYN can take it. In this class, you do simple sequences where every pose, every movement has a purpose in the birthing journey. These are meant to relieve symptoms like lower back pains, heartburn, and indigestion. These also help in aligning your body and protecting the ligaments. And most of all, it prepares the mother for pregnancy and facilitates in a birth giving process that is light on her body.  

Plus, a lot of women get into yoga or exercise during pregnancy because they think it will be easier to get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies. Well, they’re right! After the birth, mothers are highly encouraged to attend post-natal yoga classes to recover and close the body. Mothers even have the option to bring their babies to class with them, integrating their yoga practice into this new phase in their lives. This is such an important step because it will aid new mothers in finding floor awareness, re-aligning posture, and preventing postpartum depression. Basically, recovering their pre-pregnancy bodies.

JP says, “The amazing thing about our post-natal ladies who come to class since taking their pre-natal…most of them are almost back! It’s really quite amazing how much easier [it was] for them to come back to their pre-pregnancy body.”  

In conclusion, exercise is good. But only do as much as your body (and your OB-GYN) will allow. It helps relieve the unwanted symptoms of pregnancy, promotes a light birth, and it provides motivation in getting back that pre-pregnancy mobility and body. – Rappler.com

If you’re expecting and interested, check out the schedule for Urban Ashram Manila’s Birthlight yoga classes here.

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