Prenatal Yoga: Knowing the Benefits, Getting Involved and Staying Safe

Are you pregnant and ready to work out? If so, prenatal yoga is an ideal choice because it focuses exclusively on those who are expecting.

Prenatal yoga offers many benefits to pregnant women.
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Every type of yoga has numerous health benefits, but prenatal yoga may be even more beneficial than you realize.

Benefits associated with prenatal yoga

Breathing deeply and fully is taught in yoga. This breathing method is called ujjayi breath, and in Sanskrit it means the victory breath. Yoga breathing may come in handy during labor and delivery by diminishing shortness of breath. It can also help women to breath through contractions with less difficulty.

Prenatal yoga can enhance sleep and decrease stress. It is associated with fewer back aches and headaches, as well as less feelings of nausea. One of the best things about prenatal yoga is the added strength, elasticity and stamina it offers to the childbearing muscles. Another benefit to pregnant women is the decreased risk of early labor and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.

Meeting and connecting with other pregnant women is an added benefit of taking a prenatal yoga class. Cynthea Denise, a yoga instructor and registered nurse in Oakland, Calif., says, "Taking a prenatal yoga class is a great way to meet other pregnant women—to become part of a community."

Getting involved in prenatal yoga

Downloads, videos and classes are available; the choice is up to you.

YouTube offers a prenatal yoga download sample from YogaDownload. When wanting to purchase an instructional video, Amazon has numerous choices.

When taking a class, be sure the instructor has been trained to teach prenatal yoga. To find a class near you, enter your state and the style of yoga you are looking for (prenatal).

Types of yoga and postures that pregnant women should avoid

Pregnant women should avoid Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga. Hot yoga may cause hyperthermia, which is a condition in which the body temperature is considerably above normal. This is the same reason women should avoid hot tubs during pregnancy. Studies have demonstrated an increased possibility of birth defects in babies of females who experienced higher than normal body temperature during the first three months of pregnancy.

Women who are expecting should also avoid laying directly on their back or stomach. They should also avoid poses that require the legs to extend beyond the heart.

Women should always talk to their healthcare provider before beginning prenatal yoga or any exercise program.

More from Rebecca Bardelli:

Age-Erasing Yoga Exercises for Women

Top Four Yoga Exercises to Help Women Feel Sexy

Three Ways Yoga Can Balance Women's Hormones

Top Five Foods for Female Athletes: A Woman's Perspective

Rebecca completed courses in Medical Terminology, Administrative Medical Assisting, and Coding and Billing. She is recognized by the National Healthcareer Association as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) and Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA). In addition, Rebecca is a former gymnast and is avid about swimming, yoga, and other athletic activities.

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Updated Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011