Keeping fit and healthy during pregnancy is great for you and the baby you are carrying. Throughout pregnancy, you’ll experience massive change to your body, and the way you feel; yoga can support those emotional and physical changes in ways that will prepare you for the birth of your baby and early days of motherhood. Below we explain some of the main benefits of yoga during pregnancy you can expect to gain.

Stretch and Strengthen

Yoga poses are designed to stretch and strengthen your muscles, in particular, throughout your lower body. Prenatal yoga is perfect for a woman who wants to stay fit (and as comfortable as possible) throughout pregnancy as the exercises focus on toning the pelvic floor, hip and core abdominal muscles. Specifically focusing on these areas of the body ensures that muscles have the right length and strength to support the growing abdomen, minimize aches and pains throughout pregnancy, and prepare for labor.

Learning to Breathe

A typical prenatal yoga class will teach you how to breathe slowly and deeply through the nose as you work your way through a number of poses and stretches. The focus on the breathe helps to clear the mind and concentrate on the postures you are learning but has additional benefits for pregnant women.

As your pregnancy progresses and your baby bump grows, it can begin to put pressure on the lower part of your lungs, resulting in shortness of breath. The breathing you become accustomed to with yoga practices can help to manage this shortness of breath in the later stages of pregnancy. The same techniques for breathing can also be applied to labor, helping you to remain calm as contractions build and to manage the stretching and opening of the cervix as your body prepares to give birth to your child.

Improved Sleep

At a time in our lives when so much energy is going into building a new life, sleep becomes ever more important. While we slumber, our bodies get to work repairing and building new tissue, consolidating memories and preparing us physically and mentally for a new day. However, as our bodies change and pregnancy progresses, getting some quality shut-eye can become increasingly difficult. Getting a good night’s rest when pregnant can become a battle.

Yoga classes can help improve sleep and the national sleep foundation found that pregnant women who take up mindful yoga practice in their second trimester sleep better and wake less often through the night. Yoga can be incorporated into your bedtime routine to support better sleep, but you will still reap the benefits of better sleep by practicing yoga during the day, or even first thing in the morning.

Building a Support Network

Typically, healthy moms deliver healthy babies. Some studies have found connections between yoga and a reduction in hypertension related complications along with improved fetal outcomes. Joining a yoga class during pregnancy not only keeps you fit and prepares you for the birth of a healthy baby; it will also put you in contact with other expectant mums.

Joining a yoga class with women going through the same life-stage as you and making similar choices to your own, is a great way to establish a support network for early parenthood. The mums-to-be that you meet in yoga class may well become the moms that helps you through the challenges of baby-led weaning or the ‘terrible twos’. Sharing the journey of parenthood with like-minded people can support you and your child for years to come.

Choosing the Right Type of Yoga for Pregnancy

There are many different types of yoga to choose from — some that will energize, others that will relax, and still others, like Bikram yoga, that are meant to be practiced in hot rooms. Not all types of yoga are appropriate for a pregnant body, so if you are planning to take this up as an exercise routine during pregnancy, select your classes carefully.

The best types of yoga throughout pregnancy are relaxing practices such as hatha and nidra, or practices specifically designed for the pregnant body such as prenatal and restorative yoga. Yoga routines for pregnancy should last around 30 minutes and should never require participants to push themselves as this is unsafe for expectant moms. Even prenatal yoga has a range of styles to choose from, so it is wise to observe a few different classes before committing to one and look for a class that is taught by an instructor with experience and training teaching pregnant women.

Yoga can provide a safe and relaxing form of exercise to keep you fit and healthy throughout your pregnancy. Just be sure to do your research and choose a class that is right for you. Motherhood Center offers yoga classes that are safe for you during pregnancy. We hope you can join us! Namaste.

This guest post was provided by Stephanie James. Stephanie is a health enthusiast by day and a freelance writer by night. She loves to cover all things wellness and fitness and encourages others to make all aspects of their health a priority. You can connect with her on Twitter at @sjaywrites13.