A woman’s body does not just undergo physiological changes during pregnancy but also a lot of emotional and mental upheavals. Pregnancy leads to stress and anxiety, which, in turn, can affect the baby too.
A study titled Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions, suggests how fetal exposure to maternal stress “is a risk factor for adverse outcomes on the programming of the nervous system and brain morphology of fetuses, infants, and children.”
One of the effective ways to relieve oneself of the stress and being healthy, in this case, is through yoga.
Studies have time and again shown how yoga soothes the body and the mind. When a woman is pregnant, practising yoga can help reduce stress and manage other conditions like hypertension, mood instability, discomfort, aches and weight gain.
Again, a lot of mothers experience postpartum emotional disorders after delivering the baby, and postnatal yoga can help them cope with it. Not to mention how it can help her regain strength, improve posture and increase energy levels.
In this video, Gunjan Kochhar, Kundalini and Hatha Yoga trainer, shows us some simple prenatal and postnatal yoga asanas and pranayamas that you can practise at home to maintain a healthy body and mind:
These are the benefits of practising the yoga postures and the precautions, as mentioned by Kochhar:
Anulom vilom (alternate nostril breathing)
1. It provides ample oxygen to the mother’s body as well as to the baby.
2. More oxygen can relieve joint and muscle pain that a pregnant woman may experience.
3. Prevents anxiety and stress.
4. Breathing exercise can also be very helpful during labor.
1. Pranayama should be done under the expert guidance and on an empty stomach.
2. Do it slowly but breathe in such a way that air should go into the lungs and not into the stomach.
3. Do not practise immediately after having your food. Keep a gap of three to four hours between your food and pranayama practice. Always practise pranayama in the fresh air.
4. Do not overdo, as it may cause fatigue.
5. Good for pregnant women, but should not overstrain.
Bhramari Pranayama (bee humming)
1. Facilitates easy and trouble-free childbirth.
2. Reduces cerebral tensions, anger, anxiety and insomnia. Blood pressure is also normalised with this.
1. There are no precautions for this, except start practising three times and then increase to five, 11 or more.
2. Best done when empty stomach
Long deep breathing connecting to the womb
1. Helps you connect to the womb directly and consciously.
2. Help you slow down the pacing mind and help to lengthen the breath consciously.
1. Don’t hold your breath in pregnancy.
2. Inhale and exhale as long as it’s comfortable.
3. Best done when empty stomach
Marjari asana (cat cow)
1. It stretches, strengthens, and adds flexibility to the spine.
2. Both your shoulders and wrists will be strengthened.
3. The digestive organs are massaged and activated, and therefore, the process is improved.
4. It helps to tone the abdomen while getting rid of unnecessary pockets of fat, slowly but surely.
5. Being on your fours also improves the circulation of both blood and oxygen in your body.
6. The stretching relaxes the mind and removes all the stress and strain.
1. People having neck injury should not try this pose.
2. Do not try to push yourself beyond your comfort level.
3. Should not be practised at the time of pregnancy.
4. People suffering from back or knee pain should also avoid this asana.
Dandayamana Bharmanasana (Bird dog pose or balancing table pose)
1. Stretches and strengthens gluteus maximus hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, triceps and biceps, and core muscles
2. Extends and stretches the spine giving it the natural shape ensuring good posture.
3. Helps to improve the balance with focus and coordination. A balanced body comes from a balanced mind. This further helps improve the memory.
4. This yoga pose with the leg stretched and the alternative hand stretched, helps to be aware of the body along with the alignment in coordination with the breath.
5. Helps to prepare the body for advance yoga poses that require balance and stability.
1. With any kind of injury to the knee, shoulders or the hips, the practice of this yoga pose should be avoided.
2. Avoid the practice of Balancing Table Pose if one is suffering from spondylitis, as the neck is under pressure during the practice of this yoga pose.
3. Using of blankets for the knees is a good option for those starting with this practice.
Setu bandh asana (Bridge pose)
1. Best antidote to anxiety post natal.
2. It calms the mind, helps with headaches, and alleviates stress and mild depression.
1. One shouldn’t perform this pose if suffering from neck pain.
2. In case of back injury, it should be avoided.
3. Skip the yoga pose if one having knee pain.
4. Avoid it during shoulder injury.
5. Avoid turning your head right or left while you are in the pose.
Before practising these yoga postures, here are a few things that women need to keep in mind:
All these exercises are highly advisable to be first practised with an expert.
These have been shown keeping in mind the safety factor especially in pregnancy and post natal. Postnatal exercise should only start after few weeks of natural delivery and post 3 months of c-section.
Please consult your doctor before beginning any of these exercises.