Pregnancy can be a tricky time for any woman. You not only have to take care of yourself but make extra efforts to take good care of your little one too. You have to adjust to the new changes, at the same time cope with the pregnancy symptoms induced by the raging hormones. You have to prepare for labour on one hand and on the other plan for things you might need once the baby is born. There can be a lot. During this whole time, you cannot ignore two things: physical activity and diet, which are extremely crucial for your health and that of your baby. Gladly, we have Yoga, which can help you take care of the former. Not just physical health, this ancient mind, and body practice can help you take care of your mental health too.
To get some tips on this, Onlymyhealth spoke to Asheesh Pal, who is a faculty member at Art of Living's Sri Sri School of Yoga. Movement, as much as your body and ‘prakruti’ permits, is very important during pregnancy, he said. However, many expecting mothers get apprehensive if they should work out. “The idea is to have the prana or life force moving in the body and so some movement is essential,” the Yoga teacher said.
Yoga Tips For Expecting Mothers
Here are some tips on Yoga for pregnant women:
Yoga For All Trimesters
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“One thing that is common and safe for all trimesters is doing Sukshma Yoga which is the mobilization of different joints,” says Pal. You can do it in any trimester unless your doctor advises against it. Let’s dig a bit deeper into Sukshma Yoga.
- ‘Sukshma’ in Sanskrit means ‘subtle. By doing this subtle form of yoga, you can relax in a matter of just seven minutes.
- You do not even need a mat and can practice this while sitting on a chair, at your workstation, while traveling, and even on the plane.
- In this, you exercise your head and face. Here is how you can do it:
- Close your eyes and pinch your eyebrows five to six times.
- Next, some eye exercises. Just roll your eyes five to six times clockwise and then anticlockwise.
- Close your eyes tight and then open them and repeat the same about 10 times.
- Next, pull your ears for a few seconds.
- After that, hold both your ears and move them in clockwise and anticlockwise directions. Do this for a few seconds till your ears become warm.
- Next, you need to massage your cheeks. Use your index, middle, and ring fingers for this. Just slide your fingers from your jaws to your chin, while pressing hard. Your mouth should be open. Do this for a few seconds.
- Continuing with the jaw exercises, just open and close them eight to ten times.
- After that, do some neck rotations five to six times on each side.
- In this last step, just shake your hands for 1-2 minutes.
This whole routine will just take about seven minutes after which chances are that you will be as calm as a monk.
Yoga Poses During Pregnancy
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"We do not recommend any asanas in the first trimester at least till 4 and half months,” Pal says. After that, you can do almost all the asanas (poses), other than inversions, those involving deep abdominal contraction, and those done while laying on the stomach. Here are some Yoga poses you can do:
- Standing Poses: You can do Vrikshasana, or tree pose, against a wall for support. The other poses you can do include Trikonasana (triangle pose), Virabhadrasana (warrior pose), and a very gentle and modified Katichakrasana (standing spinal twist).
- Sitting Poses: You should avoid those asanas that involve abdominal twists. You can do Vajrasana (diamond pose) if there is no swelling in your feet or edema. You can also do modified versions of Janushirsanana (head-to-knee pose) and Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend). Make sure you do the modified versions of these not the regular ones involving bending forward. You need to do these to lengthen your spine.
- Reclining Poses: You can do Saralvipritasana in which you lie on your back while raising your legs against a wall. Setubandhasana (bridge pose) is also recommended.
When Your Due Date Is Near
The period starting the eighth month onwards is crucial not just because of the several bodily changes but also because you are near your due date. During this time, the Yoga teacher recommends the expecting mothers to practice Apaana mudra.
- According to him, the Apaana mudra is the energy that helps to push things out of the body, which also includes urination and excretion.
- It also helps during labour and childbirth.
- If your Apaana Vayu is healthy, your labour will be easy, says Pal.
- Hence he recommends it for every expecting mother after the eighth month. You can either do it for five to six minutes straight or split it and do it two to three times a day.
How To Take Care Of Mental Health?
Taking care of mental health is important during pregnancy just as it is in any stage of life. And Yoga, especially pranayama can help you in this. “Mind is directly connected with the breath, so controlling the breath can help you control the mind,” says Pal. You can deal with anxiety by doing pranayama, he added. Here are some other tips that can help:
- Stay hydrated
- Rest well
- Do Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) during the day. From the fifth month onwards, you can do this while lying on your side. However, do note there shouldn’t be any deep contraction in the body. Generally, Yoga Nidra is begun by contracting the body and squeezing it. However, this should be avoided during pregnancy.
Both Yoga Nidra and meditation can improve a woman’s mental well-being during pregnancy.
Other than these, Asheesh Pal says that as per modern psychology, there are nine types of intelligence, such as mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, musical intelligence, etc. You can develop these by doing certain things daily. For example, you can solve sudoku or mathematical equations for logical intelligence and listen to music for the musical one. Also, you can do certain simple dance movements, such as swinging and moving your hands. This will not just help you grow your consciousness but also that of your child. Also, joining a Yoga class or getting an instructor can help you with both physical and mental health throughout pregnancy.
(With inputs from Asheesh Pal, who is a faculty member at Art of Living's Sri Sri School of Yoga)
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