We are thrilled to present the first post of our Wellness Wednesdays blog series! We have teamed up with experts in the health and wellness field to provide insight on various health topics and answer your most pressing questions. Today’s post is for all of you expecting and to-be expecting moms! We’ve brought in Amy Griffith the prenatal yoga guru to walk us through the heaping benefits of yoga during pregnancy + ENTER TO WIN Amy’s newest yoga DVD!
Meet Amy Griffith.
Amy Griffith is a mother of 2. She is a Registered Yoga and Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor. Transitioning from a professional dance career to a yoga career was a natural shift for her. She is passionate about sharing her love of movement with others. Amy stars in her very own, “Active Prenatal Yoga” DVD. Learn more about Amy and her video at www.exercisingbalance.com.
Prenatal Yoga: Supporting You Through Pregnancy and Birth
When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew prenatal yoga would help me experience a healthier pregnancy. What I didn’t realize was how much it would support me throughout the labor and delivery that I desired. Attempting to describe all of the amazing benefits of prenatal yoga in one article is quite challenging, so I will share my Top 5 with you. If you choose to explore a regular yoga/prenatal yoga practice, you will soon discover that the lessons keep on coming. You never finish learning. How exciting is that!
ONE: Yoga during pregnancy can be strengthening, peaceful, balancing, energizing and empowering.
• Yes, pregnancy is a time when we slow down and modify our exercise. The lesson “it’s ok to slow down,” was heard loud and clear as my body changed and shifted daily! But I was surprised at how many of the foundational yoga poses I could still do even as my baby grew!
• In prenatal yoga we use props such as blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters. which offer support and comfort to each momma.
• Many of my students are pleasantly surprised at the strength and confidence they have when they move on their mat during pregnancy.
• Transitioning slowly between poses also keeps mom safe as her balance changes and joints begin to loosen with the release of the hormone relaxin.
• Remaining physically active not only helps to keep muscles toned, it can help to prevent gestational diabetes, improve circulation, regulate blood pressure and aid in digestion. So, enjoy those necessary naps, but make it a point to get up and move, even if it’s as simple as walking with a friend!
TWO: Many yoga poses can help to encourage baby to move into optimal position for birth.
• Any time we take “table top,” or hands and knees position, this can encourage baby to move to OA (occiput anterior) position. This means that the baby’s spine is towards the front of mom’s belly.
• Moving into downward facing dog or child’s pose, with the hips elevated, can encourage baby to shift into a head down position as well.
• Movement in general allows baby to continue to find the right position that they need as they grow within mom.
• The more comfortable a woman is moving on her mat, the more confident she will be moving throughout labor.
THREE: Prenatal yoga helps you recognize areas in your body where you hold tension.
• When we take an active pose, such as Warrior 2 or Chair Pose, we feel the muscles begin to “wake up.” This sensation is not always comfortable. It would be much easier to just back out of the pose. As long as your alignment of the pose is safe, there is no reason for you to escape here.
• This moment helps you recognize where you hold tension when you are in an uncomfortable situation. Maybe you clench your jaw, furrow your brow, or tighten your shoulders. We begin to recognize these triggers and release them.
• Holding an active pose for a few breaths, gives us the opportunity to notice these places of tension and we can allow them to become softened and relaxed.
• This exercise will carry mom through labor. When a contraction begins, she can feel her body completely relax, not holding onto any tension. When mom is relaxed and at peace, her body naturally manages each contraction allowing labor to progress.
• This was something I mentally and physically prepped myself for, for quite awhile. I knew I could “Let Go.” I just needed to keep reminding myself of this… daily.
FOUR: Your breath is a powerful tool, not just in pregnancy, but in life.
• When we are in a stressful situation and our adrenaline rises, our breathing becomes shortened and our heart races. Recognizing this heightened state within ourselves, we can take control, beginning with our breath.
• Notice, when you take a slow and steady breath in… then a slow, steady breath out… how much better you feel afterwards! It is almost an immediate shift.
• Our yoga practice connects movement with breath. We become so familiar with our breath and how it can help bring about calm, peace and reassurance in moments of stress or discomfort.
• Whether it is relaxing and deepening your breathing as you hold chair pose, or throughout the rise and fall of contractions, this simple, yet powerful tool can make a huge impact on your experience.
• Breathe in, breathe out, and Trust.
FIVE: Setting a positive intention is one of my favorite ways to help moms enjoy their journey through pregnancy.
• Selecting a word or short phrase that you come back to when doubt or concern creep in, can help to overcome them, enabling you to move forward with more positivity.
• My mantra, or positive intention, was the word “Trust.” I needed to remind myself to trust my body and trust my journey, even though it was unknown, throughout my entire pregnancy.
• Some other intentions a mom may choose is “I accept,” or “Let go.”
• We can incorporate this intention into our yoga practice, weaving it together with movement and breath. We believe what we tell ourselves, so why not tell yourself positive words daily throughout pregnancy?
• This time in our lives can really throw us off balance. Connecting to your positive intention on and off of your yoga mat can help bring you back to balance. There are many layers in prenatal yoga that come together to create an experience that is unique and special. Take the time to slow down, step onto your mat, move and breathe, and you will discover the intuitive knowledge you already possess. In prenatal yoga, we celebrate you, momma! We celebrate the perfect little life you are bringing into the world. There is no other gift as special.
If you are interested in developing your prenatal yoga practice and gaining more trust, please connect with us at www.exercisingbalance.com. My “Active Prenatal Yoga” DVD will guide you through these tips and so much more. I hope you will share a part of your journey into motherhood with us. All the best, amazing momma!
- Amy Griffith, RYT, CPYT
ENTER TO WIN Amy’s Prenatal Yoga DVD!
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