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Yoga for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy brings about hormonal, mental, and physical changes in a woman’s body that can be difficult to cope with. It is also during this phase that a woman’s emotions run high, making her more prone to stress, panic, and anxiety. Doing prenatal yoga can help women deal with all these changes and serve as a low-impact workout routine to stay physically fit and make it easier to manage pregnancy weight gain.
Yoga Poses for Pregnant Women
Not all yoga exercises are advisable for pregnant women because of their heightened physical sensitivity. In prenatal yoga, it is fairly common for the moms to do yoga exercise with the help of accessories such as yoga blocks for weight support and make the poses safer and “pregnancy-friendly.” The poses recommended for expectant moms are usually those that are ideal for back pain relief, stretching the hips, and strengthening the joints — all of which greatly help women as they go through the phases of pregnancy.
The Cat Cow Pose
The Cat Cow Pose is a combination of two poses: the Cow Pose and the Cat Stretch. But because the two are the inverse equivalents of each other, they are now commonly done as just one pose. To do this stretching pose, you first have to slowly get on all fours on your yoga mat with your knees hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Then, inhale and lower your belly so that your back is curved downward. Movement should start from the hipbone, down to the spine, and ending with you raising your head to gaze at the ceiling.
As you exhale move your belly back up, bring your chin close to your chest, and stretch your back so that it is now curved upward — similar to how cats look when they stretch. Do these poses alternately and hold each pose for a couple seconds. This combination of poses are effective in relieving lower back pain, stretches the spine, and engages the arm muscles.
Cobbler’s Pose or Baddha Konasana
Many women experience tension in the muscles surrounding the hips, and this can cause discomfort especially during pregnancy. The Cobbler’s Pose helps address this problem by opening the hips and stabilizing the pubic bone, another area which can get uncomfortable as women reach their last trimester. To do this pose, sit on the yoga mat with your back straight and slowly bend your legs, bringing your feet closer to the groin.
You will immediately feel the stretch in your thighs and the muscles around the hips the closer your heels get to the pubic bone. You can also try making your knees touch the mat when your feet are drawn close to the groin to open the hips even wider. Just remember to work at a comfortable pace and ease up the moment you feel pain or severe discomfort.
This pose stretches the back muscles, relieve lower back pain, and helps minimize swelling in the legs (edeme). Start the pose by sitting on the mat with your legs underneath you so that your buttocks are resting on the heels of your feet. Keep your knees at a hip-width distance. Then carefully bend forward and stretch your arms out in front of you, palms flat on the floor and your forehead touching the ground. Hold this pose as you inhale and exhale for as many number of full breaths as you’d like.
Doing prenatal yoga exercises has a lot of mental and physical benefits. The Child’s Pose especially is useful in keeping your calm during moments when you feel stressed or anxious. Other poses you can do to help relieve back pain brought on by pregnancy is the Supported Bridge Pose, where you can use a yoga block to place directly under the small of your back as you lie on the floor. Be sure to take extra caution if you are doing these poses at home on your own.
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