What to expect from Yoga when expecting?

On International Yoga Day, we bring you the benefits of practising Prenatal Yoga.
What to expect from Yoga when expecting?
Celebrities like Sania Mirza, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Soha Ali Khan (L-R) have been known to practice Prenatal YogaThe Bridge Chronicle

Hollywood as well as Bollywood celebrities have always advocated for some of the other forms of Yoga. While some have publicly acknowledged its positive effects on the mind and body, a few others have taken the initiative to encourage their fans to actively practice Yoga.

After its blaring introduction to the West in the 20th-century, which is majorly credited to Swami Vivekananda, it has gone through various updates to fit in the current world for the new generations. Although the soul of the practice remains the same, new forms have come up like Power Yoga, Acro Yoga, Beer Yoga, among others. One of the trends of Yoga, which has certainly been promoted heavily by celebrities (even if unintentionally) is Prenatal Yoga.

Even though the practice is relevant for everyone, according to a research paper, Yoga poses for pregnant women were first identified by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in the 1960s. The paper further mentions that Iyengar Yoga, which is named after BKS Iyengar (he is also credited for developing it), includes yoga styles that address the specific needs of women. Geeta Iyengar, daughter of Iyengar, published a book called ‘A Gem for Women’ which talked about the poses that could be practised by women during 'the three main cycles' - menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Apart from Iyengar Yoga, there are other kinds of Yoga as well that help when you’re expecting.

Celebrities like Sania Mirza, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Soha Ali Khan (L-R) have been known to practice Prenatal Yoga
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Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Since a specific kind of Yoga can focus on easing pains and relieving stress, it is certainly a quite powerful and effective form of workout for expecting mums. The kind of postures and exercises involved in prenatal yoga usually focuses on stretching. It also involves has breathing exercises that not only reduce stress but may also be useful during labour and delivery. According to research, prenatal yoga has been deemed safe and is even believed to have numerous benefits for pregnant women.

Prenatal yoga has proved to improve sleep, increase strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles. Practising this kind of yoga can help decrease lower back pain, nausea, headaches and breathlessness. According to Mayo Clinic, prenatal yoga helps an expecting mum to meet and bond with other moms-to-be and prepare for the stress of being a new parent.

Asanas or postures practised in this kind of yoga helps in opening up the pelvic region and relieves tension around the cervix. This kind of exercise prepares to-be-mothers for labour and delivery. Prenatal yoga can also help women to recover faster and better post-delivery.

Celebrities like Sania Mirza, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Soha Ali Khan (L-R) have been known to practice Prenatal Yoga
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Which poses are pregnancy-safe?

Since this practice is designed for expecting mums, it does not include poses that may be too taxing or unsafe for the changing and developing body. Here are some of the prenatal yoga poses one can try that would concentrate on challenges faced by expecting mothers.

Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)

As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Marjariasana
As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice MarjariasanaThe Bridge Chronicle

This pose helps in stretching. It specifically concentrates on neck and shoulder muscles, which eases stiffness. This asana (pose) helps to keep the spine flexible, which helps as pregnancy advances since the back can support more weight. This asana further improves blood circulation, in turn making sure that the organs are well-nourished.

Konasana-I (Standing Sideways Bending One Arm)

This exercise is in a standing position which is easy to practice during pregnancy and streches the sides of the body. This pose also keeps the spine flexible and helps in relieving constipation (which is a common condition during pregnancy).

Veerbhadrasana (Warrior Pose)

As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Veerbhadrasana
As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Veerbhadrasana The Bridge Chronicle

Warrior pose helps in improving body balance and tones arms, legs as well as lower back this increases an expecting mother’s stamina.

Badhakonasana (Butterfly Pose)

As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Badhakonasana
As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Badhakonasana The Bridge Chronicle

This pose is in a sitting position and therefore easy for pregnant women to practice. It helps in improving hip flexibility. It also stretches the thighs and knees, thereby relieving pain. If advised by the doctor and done under supervision, it can even help facilitate a smooth delivery.

Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing technique)

As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Nadi Shodhan Pranayama
As part of prenatal yoga, one can practice Nadi Shodhan PranayamaThe Bridge Chronicle

Pranayama helps you to breathe well. It released negative emotions and helps you to take good care of yourself and the baby. They also help in keeping calm and maintaining body temperature.

Celebrities like Sania Mirza, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Soha Ali Khan (L-R) have been known to practice Prenatal Yoga
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Here are some of the actors who have successfully shown the world that prenatal yoga can be helpful if done with care.

Kareena Kapoor Khan

Known for her fitness, from her infamous size zero to her amazing transformation after Taimur’s birth, Bebo has been setting new examples and standards for fitness. Mommy of two proudly wore her yoga pants during pregnancy and practised “a little bit of yoga…” for “…a little bit of calm.”

Kate Hudson

Kate is one of the many other celebrities who swore by prenatal yoga. She shared the picture (below), with a caption that mentions her admiration for the practice. She wrote, “… yoga was a huge part of supporting my pregnancy. I loved my practice with my growing belly and connecting to her beautiful spirit.” Well, we can surely say that she has unlocked the magic of yoga!

Anushka Sharma

Debatably one of the top actresses in Bollywood, Anushka certainly took the whole idea of prenatal yoga to another level. During the course of her pregnancy, she posted a picture of her doing a headstand yoga or Shirshasana with the support of her ‘very able husband’ Virat Kohli and under the supervision of her yoga teacher.

In her caption, she wrote, “This exercise is ‘hands-down’ (and legs up) the most difficult one 🤓 #throwback . P.S. – As yoga is a big part of my life, my doctor recommended that I can do all such asanas that I was doing before I was pregnant ( after a certain stage) barring twists & extreme forward bends, but of course with the appropriate and required support. For the Shirshasana, which I have been doing for many years, I ensured that I used the wall for support and also my very able husband supporting me balance ❤️, to be extra safe . This was also done under the supervision of my yoga teacher @eefa_shrof who was virtually with me through this session. I'm so glad I could continue my practice through my pregnancy (sic)”.

Nikki Reed

During her pregnancy with her daughter Bodhi, the actress kept up her workout routine. She told Fit Pregnancy and Baby that she does "…yoga. I lift weights. I do workout videos when I can't do outdoorsy things." She added, " I've always been an active person. It's what makes me feel good. As long as the baby's fine, I'll keep it up."

Among some of the other celebs who have endured on the road of prenatal yoga are Sania Mirza, Lara Dutta, Soha Ali Khan and Saumya Tandon. Kudos to these ladies for making sure that they keep their health during pregnancy, which went an extra mile for their baby’s health as well. However, even though yoga (if done with the right technique) is safe, it is always advisable (especially for moms-to-be) to practice it under supervision.

Practising Yoga certainly strengthens the body and mind but is not a substitute for medicine.

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