We’ve all seen photos of Miranda Kerr, Jessica Alba, and January Jones toting a yoga mat, bringing increased awareness and cool factor to the practice of prenatal yoga. While celebrity endorsements are great, are you aware of the amazing power of prenatal yoga for both mom and baby? At a glance, here are a top five of the many, many benefits of prenatal yoga according to my students. The power of prenatal is nearly endless, but here’s a start.
1. Prenatal yoga doubles as a therapy session and support group.
I start my prenatal yoga classes with extended check-in time, during which each mom introduces herself, shares how she’s feeling – physically AND emotionally – and has the opportunity to ask questions of fellow students. This period provides an awesome peer support network for the mom and the opportunity to share with others beyond her doctor and partner. Sometimes this is the longest part of the class – and that’s okay! Moms share tips and learn from each other with every class, as well as realize that their feelings and experiences are normal. Tears and laughter are the norm, as are strong friendships that result from sharing the journey of pregnancy.
2. Yoga can help turn a breech or posterior baby.
When the baby is not positioned head down and facing downward, a host of poses can encourage him/her to turn. Downward Facing Dog, Extended Puppy, Bridge, Cat/Cow or pelvic rocking, even Legs Up the Wall poses have the power to rotate the baby. This is amazing and can possibly prevent a cesarean section too – often a surprise for my first-time moms.
3. Select poses can shorten the birth canal up to 30% when practiced during labor and delivery.
Now if that’s not a selling point, I don’t know what is! Goddess and other squatting poses shorten the distance that the baby has to travel. (Avoid practicing squats after 34 weeks though as they’re so effective they can induce labor.) Lots of moms tell me they’ve put this into practice in the labor/delivery room. Every prenatal class I teach incorporates squats in some way.
4. Pranayama, mamas!
Breath is key when it comes to labor and delivery, and the ancient yogic practice of pranayama is an awesome skill for moms to have before giving birth. Prenatal yoga teaches forms of breathing that can help alleviate heartburn and morning sickness, help the mother push and/or control the urge to push during labor and delivery, connect with the baby once hearing is developed, even incorporate into nursing after the birth to the benefit of both mom and baby.
5. Prenatal yoga is an awesome gateway to a lifelong practice!
Many moms find yoga for the first time when referred by a doctor or friend. Similarly, prenatal is an equally attractive option for long practicing yogis once they’re expecting. New practice for moms to have for life, new practice variations for existing yogis. Everyone wins.
What powers of prenatal yoga have you discovered through practicing or teaching? Add your fab findings to the list in comments below!
(The above are fun facts and not meant to be medical advice. I can rock a yoga mat but definitely not a stethoscope!)
About Elizabeth Rowan
Elizabeth Rowan is a formerly anxious, multiple BlackBerry-clutching executive who recently went all-in to lose the high heels, teach yoga full-time and drum up some health and inner peace. Elizabeth received her 200 hour yoga teaching training certificate from Anahata Yoga, Hong Kong, in 2011 while studying under Yogananth Andiappan, son of Dr. Asana Andiappan of Chennai, India. She is also a certified Pranakriya prenatal yoga teacher by Jacci Reynolds and a certified Radiant Child Yoga teacher by Shakta Khalsa. Elizabeth currently teaches Hatha, Yin, Prenatal and Children’s yoga in Savannah, Georgia after spending the last several years in Hong Kong.