Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Preparing for Parenthood With Yoga.

Yoga for Moms-to-Be

Yoga, It Isn't Just for Flower Children Anymore continued...

"With pregnancy and all the changes that are going on during those nine months, the most important thing that yoga can do is bring you into an internal focus while moving your body and making you aware of your breath," Terri O'Connor tells WebMD. "When yoga does that, it helps a pregnant woman reduce any anxiety around the whole process, strengthen her body, and create an internal calm state, which is so needed and important. Yoga poses, being a gentle way of movement, will get your body into alignment and create a still place within, and with that you are creating a calm state of mind, hopefully more space in your lungs and abdomen to breathe, and some strength to help you during labor." O'Connor is the co-owner of Plum Tree Yoga Center in Roswell, Ga.

"As far as postpartum is concerned, it's about getting your body back in shape after the birth process, strengthening your abdominals, trying to get back into your clothes, [and] keeping the hormones in check and balanced," says O'Connor. She says that postpartum yoga gently and slowly works a woman back up to her pre-pregnancy level -- a process that could take several months. "With the physical movements and the breathing, it helps you acclimate to the hormone fluctuations before and after. So I would say the most important thing is body awareness, enhancing your ability to breath, and creating a calm place within."

Khalsa says a woman needs to reclaim her body after her baby is born. "You have to become a very strong-on-the-outside mother and human being, and your life has to come into even more of a balance," she says. "So there are very specific postures and meditations we do for pregnancy yoga and very specific ones we do for postnatal yoga to rebuild the body. And again, it's community: So many times we don't have family to lean on -- it's that longing to belong."

"And for the babies, it's wonderful," Gurmukh Khalsa says. "We do baby yoga and body movement with them to help balance their own bodies and open up their hips, and get their energy running through. We dance with them, and sing with them, and massage them."

A Breath of Fresh Air

In any kind of yoga there's great emphasis on breathing and the breath; that emphasis is redoubled in prenatal yoga. "Breath work always has physical benefits: it oxygenates the blood, balances the nervous system and helps you adjust to the hormonal changes that you are going through," says Sat Jivan Kaur Khalsa, co-director of Kundalini Yoga East in New York City (Sat Jivan is not related to Gurmukh Khalsa; both were given traditional Sikh spiritual names many years ago). "Mentally, it helps bring a lot of clarity, focus, and purification to the mind so that you are actually very prepared for the birth. For many first-time mothers, the big thing is, 'How am I going to do when it is time to let the baby out?' The breath work -- and the yoga -- really helps people feel that they could handle this."

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy