What are the benefits of yoga in pregnancy and beyond?

During pregnancy, it is recommended to stay active and take regular moderate exercise.

In recent years, this has led to a booming market in classes and groups designed for pregnant women.

Many women enjoy prenatal yoga for its combination of relaxation and fitness, and there is evidence that this is beneficial for both mum and baby.

  • Good for your body – Yoga increases strength and flexibility, helping you to prepare your body for childbirth. It also teaches you techniques to focus on your breathing and relax which you can use during labour.
  • Good for your mind – Exercise is a great stress-buster and can help you get a better night’s sleep. Yoga combines mindfulness and meditation techniques with gentle exercise, which can help you to deal with the natural worry and anxiety you might feel during pregnancy. You may also wish to listen to pregnancy and childbirth hypnosis tracks whilst you are meditating.
  • Good for your baby – Evidence has been found linking regular postnatal yoga with higher infant birth weight and fewer complications in pregnancy. It is also thought that effective breathing techniques may increase the amount of oxygen going into your baby’s bloodstream.

Once you have given birth, and taken time to recover, why stop there?

Postnatal and baby yoga is becoming increasingly popular, offering new mothers the opportunity to exercise as well as introducing gentle yoga-based movements for babies.

  • For you – postnatal yoga exercises are designed to help you recover from birth and to strengthen key muscle groups. Long hours spent cuddling and feeding a newborn can lead to aches and tension in the neck and shoulders, which can be relieved through yoga. What is more, classes and groups are a great way to get out and meet other new mums.
  • For baby – slowly and gently moving a baby’s limbs, which is a key aspect of baby yoga, can help to stimulate muscle and nerve development. Gentle touch on babies’ skin also helps slow down the production of stress hormones and promotes relaxation.
  • For bonding – time spent interacting with your baby and responding to their cues in a relaxed and positive way will help you to develop a strong attachment.

How to enjoy yoga in pregnancy and beyond

It is very important to make sure that you are practising yoga safely during pregnancy and afterwards. Look for a class or and group specifically designed for pregnant women and new mothers, and as always, listen to your body and stop if something doesn’t feel right.

Some more forms of yoga, such as Bikram yoga and power yoga, are not recommended at all during pregnancy and you should always seek your doctor’s advice if you have any concerns.