Skip to content

Health & Balance

Font Size

Preparing for Parenthood With Yoga

Yoga for Moms-to-Be

A Breath of Fresh Air continued...

"Pregnant or not pregnant, most people really aren't paying attention to how they breathe," says O'Connor. "When you are paying attention to the breath, you can calm down and slow down your regular routine of the day. You can deepen the breath, which will relax the body and in turn create that calm place in your mind. When we are aware of the breath, we can become more aware of the body -- and this is so important throughout the pregnancy process because the breath becomes more difficult as you gain weight and as the abdomen is compressed more."

O'Connor says proper, conscious breathing also keeps the body oxygenated, helps digestion, and helps the baby. "You want to breathe [properly] for the baby's sake because your baby is getting all of the benefits of the breath when you do breathe deeper."

Variety Is the Spice of Life

From hatha to kundalini to ashtanga to Iyengar, almost all types of yoga focus on the breath -- but their similarities end there. Some are more aerobic, others mostly meditative, and yet others fall somewhere in between. So how do you know which one is right for you and your developing fetus?

"Before you're pregnant, there are lots of different kinds of yoga, and it seems that people fit into certain categories depending on their preferences: Some people like the heated, fiery ashtanga yoga, some like more of a gentle fluid movement similar to tai chi," explains O'Connor. "When you are pregnant, you really need to adhere to a safe and gentle way of moving in and out of the yoga postures, period. So you want to set aside those preferences once you get into the second trimester and you really want to move softly and easily in and out of the poses, because you want to gain strength as well as flexibility and balance.

"But the most important thing is to gain an inward focus, because what you are doing is training yourself for labor and preparing yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally," says O'Connor. "You want to create a reference point to go within, be quiet, and be with yourself [because] that is what you bring with you into your birthing situation. When you practice and when you do that consistently, you develop a reference that is yours alone, and when you go into labor that is all you have."

Gurmukh Khalsa and Sat Jivan Kaur Khalsa agree that the prenatal yoga classes of any yoga "lineage" are more similar than they are different; variations come down to an instructor's style, personal touches, or, in the case of kundalini yoga, certain spiritually-rooted traditions and ceremonies.

"Chances are whatever you find, you are really fortunate and you will probably be in good hands," says Gurmukh Khalsa. "Say you live in a big city and have a choice, then just go visit some studios and see whatever feels good for you. You have to vibrate with them. But whichever form you do, in a sense it doesn't matter as long as you just get in the breathing and get in community and spend that time, one or two or three times a week, where it is just you and your relationship to this soul."

"I think you have to experiment," says Sat Jirvan Kaur Khalsa. "Yoga is becoming more popularized, but there are many places in the country where there is only one thing available. We are not on every corner yet."

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do we really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
man reading sticky notes
Quiz
worried kid
fitArticle
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Woman opening window
Slideshow
 
Woman yawning
Health Check
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
brain food
Slideshow
laughing family
Quiz