7 Yogasanas to ease your pregnancy

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Yoga
Yoga
Yoga
Yoga

Yoga is a discipline that focuses on the balance between mind and body. Yoga combines asanas, pranayam and relaxation techniques to achieve this balance.

Yoga has become very popular because of its holistic approach to balancing and strengthening your body, mind and spirit. It can be especially beneficial for pregnant women since it encourages you to stretch, breathe and relax, which in turn can help you adjust to the physical demands of pregnancy, labour, birth and motherhood. It calms both mind and body, providing you with the physical and emotional stress relief you need throughout your pregnancy.

When practised regularly, yoga helps improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being. It improves your blood circulation, muscle tone and flexibility. And it continues to have benefits after pregnancy too. Postnatal yoga, which can be started about six weeks after the birth, strengthens the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, helping you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape faster.

Before you sign up for that yoga class:

✓ Consult your doctor. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this important fact needs to be stressed over and over again. Before embarking on any fitness programme during pregnancy, talk to your doctor. She will be able to advise you if yoga is suitable for you or not.

✓ Find a qualified yoga instructor or opt for a prenatal yoga class. Choose an instructor who is well-qualified and experienced in teaching pregnant women.

When do you start?

If you have been practising yoga already, you can continue during your pregnancy. However, if you are planning to start yoga as a form of exercise during pregnancy, it is ideal to do so in the second trimester. Check with your yoga instructor and doctor before starting yoga in the first trimester.

How often?

Yoga can be performed once a week or every day. The duration can range from 5 to 60 minutes per session. An important thing to remember is that if you are a beginner, you need to ease your way into yoga. Your instructor will help you find your rhythm gradually. Avoid overdoing any movement and always listen to your body. Following a gentle approach will reap the best results over a period of time. Yoga is the integration of your mind, body and soul and you have to achieve this at your own pace. Here are some safety guidelines to help you enjoy yoga without feeling any pain or discomfort.

✓ Listen to your body carefully. If you feel any discomfort, stop. You will probably need to modify each pose as your body changes. A qualified prenatal yoga instructor will customise your yoga routine to suit the stage of your pregnancy.

✓ Avoid lying on your back after the first trimester; it can reduce blood circulation to the uterus.

✓ Avoid poses that stretch the muscles too much. You are more at risk for strains, pulls and other injuries right now because of the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which softens and relaxes joints and connective tissue.

✓ From the second trimester – when your centre of gravity starts to shift – do all standing poses with your heel against the wall or use a chair for support, to avoid losing your balance and risking injury to yourself or your baby.

✓ While twisting, move from the shoulders and back, rather than the waist, to avoid putting pressure on your abdomen. Twist only as far as it feels comfortable – deep twists are not advisable in pregnancy. (Read: Sex during pregnancy – should we, shouldn’t we?)

The yoga routine

Yoga is a great way to keep your body supple and fit during pregnancy. Yoga asanas invigorate the body and mind, stretch the spine and allow better energy flow.

Yoga tips

•Yoga can be practised anywhere – indoors or outdoors. Just make sure it is a calm and quiet environment with adequate ventilation.
•Yoga gear should be comfortable, convenient and simple. All you need is loose, comfortable clothing and a yoga mat, rug, blanket or carpet.
•Hold each yoga pose for 10 to 60 seconds.
•Set aside a fixed time for yoga.
•If you have never tried yoga before, first learn the different poses under supervision. Start slowly and relax for 2 to 3 minutes after every asana if required.
•Yoga can be performed once a week or every day. The duration can range from 5 minutes to 60 minutes per session.
•Never force your body into a stretch or pose. Regular practice will make seemingly impossible poses more accessible.
•If you feel any pain or nausea, stop and contact your doctor immediately.

1. Palm tree

Imagine you are a palm tree swaying in the wind.

Benefit: This pose stretches and strengthens the torso

Stand upright, raise your arms overhead and interlock your fingers.

Now stretch slowly and gently to the right and then the left, imitating the swaying movement of a palm tree.

2. Modified triangle pose

Can you position your body in such a way that it forms three triangles?

Benefit: This pose regulates the digestive system and massages internal organs like the liver.

Stand with your feet wide apart and arms extended at shoulder level parallel to the floor.

Stretch your left hand overhead and bend down to the right side and touch your knee. Look up at your left hand.

Return to starting position and switch sides.

3. Modified forward bend

Reach forward with your hands, with a chair for support.

Benefit: This pose stretches the back and legs.

Stand tall in front of a chair.

Lift your arms and reach towards the chair; press your palms on the chair. Keep your back straight and bend from your hips. Hold.

Return to standing position.

4. Seated twist

Twist to the right and then to the left, to improve the mobility of the spine.

Benefit: This pose stretches the spine, improves digestion and relieves constipation.

Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee and take the right foot over the left knee.

Bring the left arm and elbow over the right knee. Keep your right hand behind you on the fl oor for support. Now twist your torso to the right and turn your head back.

Return to starting position and switch sides.

5. Cat-camel pose

Imitate a cat and then a camel. Arch your spine like a cat and then lift it up like the hump of a camel.

Benefit: releases spinal stress

Get down on all fours on your mat. Place your hands directly below your shoulders. Now lift your tailbone up towards the ceiling so that your lower back is concave. As you do this your head will lift up naturally towards the ceiling.

Now round your back like the hump of a camel and roll your head towards your chest. Make the movements as fluid as possible.

6. Butterfly pose

Imitate a butterfly.

Benefit: Increases mobility of the hip joints and stretches the inner thigh.

Sit with your legs outstretched on the mat. Bend your knees and bring your feet in as close as possible, towards you. Bring the soles of your feet together.

Keep your spine straight and gently move your legs down and up, resembling the movement of a butterfly as it flaps its wings.

7. The modified corpse

You need to relax in order to feel rejuvenated.

Lie on your left side; place a pillow between your legs and below your head for support.

Close your eyes and relax your mind.

To make the poses more comfortable, use blankets, pillows, cushions and chairs for support if you need them. For instance, you can perform seated positions on a folded blanket. If maintaining an erect spine is difficult, lean against a wall for support.

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