Yoga is a term derived from the Sanskrit term ‘yuj’ which means to merge or to unite. It is a mind and body practice that encompasses a system of stretching exercises and postures (asana) combined with deep breathing and meditation. Yoga requires a mindful coordination of body movement and breath with a focus on self-awareness.
Yoga is a low impact, intentional, and readily modifiable exercise making it a suitable exercise for pregnant women. The health benefits from yoga are said to be myriad and include reduction in perceived stress, anxiety, depression, chronic back pain, migraines, and may have a benefit in conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.
Yoga for pregnancy aims to support a woman during her pregnancy and prepare her for active birth, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Yoga for the First Trimester
The main purpose of yoga is to prepare her body for birth and minimize possible harm along the way. Prepare for certain attitude towards pregnancy and childbirth. By guiding her towards appropriate practice, yoga can help alleviate many of the symptoms that appear in the first trimester.
Emphasis: Breathing, postures, movement, Rooting Exploring the breath and observing it while lying down or sitting, with and without hands.
Yoga for the Second Trimester
Most women begin to feel better in the second trimester; they want to move more, to get stronger, feel energetic, work harder and prepare their body for the advanced stages of pregnancy and childbirth.
Emphasis: Breathing, Asana, Rooting, strengthening, releasing, Connecting, guided imagery and relaxation, slow continuous movement, use of voice, Intent.
Yoga for the Third Trimester
At this stage pregnant women require more adjustments and support and gradually the practice will evolve into learning how to slow down, let go, relax, rest, practice visualization, and to be attentive to themselves. Teacher provides information on yoga breathing and asana relevant to giving birth and how to recover after the birth.
Emphasis: Breathing exercises, postures, connecting; guided imagery; slow and continuous movement; use of voice, Intent, poses and movements to alleviate contractions; different poses for relaxation and rest between contractions.
Post partum. This stage lasts up to 6 weeks after the birth, and in this phase a woman will feel her body trying to re-organize itself. It is very important to rest and not overload the body with any physical exertion.
The order of postnatal recovery is: Pelvic floor muscles → Transverse abdominal muscles → Oblique abdominals → Rectus abdominis.