Having a Baby? Think Yoga
Yoga in Pregnancy
Multitude of Benefits continued...
There are many types of yoga, says Pringle, who is a practitioner of Iyengar yoga, which is known for its emphasis on alignment, precision, and attention to detail.
"The focus that Iyengar yoga has on pregnancy," Pringle says, "is that it recognized it as a very special time in both the woman's and the baby's life. As such, the Iyengars devised a specific approach to working with women who are pregnant."
The main emphasis of Iyengar yoga in pregnancy, says Pringle, is creating space for the baby. This focus also helps the mother breathe more easily and learn how to strengthen and realign her spine.
Grab a Chair
Iyengar yoga incorporates props into its practice. Belts, blankets, and blocks are especially important to pregnant women, says Pringle, because they can alter the yoga postures so the woman can get the full benefits of the exercise without endangering the fetus. Instead of reaching to the floor, for example, the mother-to-be might put her hands on a block or on a chair.
"Using these props with the yoga postures can help relieve backaches and other problems caused by the imbalances created by the weight of the baby," Pringle explains.
Kuperman, whose twins were born 19 years ago through natural labor with the help of yoga practices, is a strong proponent of yoga in pregnancy. He cautions, however, that there is a difference between someone who is already practicing yoga before becoming pregnant and a beginner.
"If a woman is already practicing yoga," Kuperman says, "then it is an absolute blessing, and she should be able to sail through pregnancy with no complications." For someone just starting with yoga, though, he recommends finding a qualified instructor who can demonstrate floor exercises and gentle stretches.
Newcomers: Take Heed
When a woman is pregnant, ligaments and joints become much more flexible and elastic, Kuperman says. For someone unfamiliar with yoga, there is a risk of stretching too much and causing injury. The same is true of the spine, he adds, and a sudden twist could cause a disk herniation.