mOMming - Prenatal and Postnatal Recovery Yoga - Part 2
Kata: Speaking of prenatal yoga, what’s the structure of a prenatal yoga class?
Mariann: The prenatal yoga classes start with inner focus, connecting with yourself, and connecting with your baby. Then we continue with breathing practices followed by asanas (strengthening and stretching). Then we move onto pelvic floor muscles training and we always close our practice with relaxation.
Kata: I think it’s also important to mention that certain movements, such as certain twists, are restricted in prenatal yoga. So even if you are an advanced yogini, you have to be aware of what should and should not do during your pregnancy. What is the situation with the headstand by the way? ☺
Mariann: Good question. Yes, there are serious restrictions that all prenatal yoga instructors are aware of. I always highlight these during my classes. It’s important to know about them and keep them in mind, especially when practicing home alone.
Whether you should practice inverse poses and backbends are under debate though. Although there are certain exceptions, the „big book” of yoga says that these poses are restricted. However, it may depend on your experience level and personal decision. When somebody has been practicing yoga for many years at an advanced level and feels comfortable doing a headstand while pregnant, then it’s their decision. It’s similar to being an experienced weightlifter and still lifting weights while pregnant.
Kata: The pelvic floor muscles training and the breathing techniques that we learn during prenatal yoga can help a lot during labor and also during the postpartum recovery period. Can you tell me more about them?
Mariann: Whether you do them together or separately, they are very useful not only during the 6-week postpartum period but throughout your life. Pelvic floor muscle exercises after giving birth are slightly different compared to the time during pregnancy. When practicing them combined with breathwork, they are excellent for your pelvic floor muscles and abdominals as well. The best part is that it’s easy to practice them on a daily basis. It’s important to keep in mind, that just like other muscles, these muscles should be trained regularly to keep them strong. This is very important since loose pelvic floor muscles could cause us problems, just think about incontinence for example.
The breathing exercises offer emotional and mental support as well. New moms are facing a lot of new challenges since their life just extended with a beautiful but giant responsibility. Practicing pranayama breathing can help keep in balance the anxiety, stress, and worries.
Kata: Prenatal yoga is getting more and more popular and more and more yoga babies are born every day. Yaaay! Let’s talk about how prenatal yoga affects the baby in the belly?
Mariann: The physical benefits are clear. Prenatal yoga increases oxygen in the expecting mom’s blood. This helps to eliminate more carbon-dioxide and detoxify the blood. This way the baby will receive better quality blood and more oxygen from their mommy. Thanks to better blood circulation, the baby will receive nutrient-support more effectively. All this helps the physical and cognitive development of the baby in the belly. Researchers say that the emotional reactions only start to develop a few weeks after birth, however, the baby can sense whether the mom is stressed and tense or calm, relaxed, and emotionally balanced even while inside the belly. Feeling more balanced with the help of yoga will support your baby. You know the saying: “When the mommy is fine, the baby is fine as well.” This can give any expecting mom extra motivation for choosing yoga.