Pregnancy Yoga: What a gift for yourself and your baby.

Pregnancy yoga is a gift for yourself, baby and surroundings, as it teaches tools to slow down and to be in the present moment. You learn how to stay connected with your breath, changing body, and baby who is growing inside of you. Through breath awareness, quieting the mind and gentle stretches you also deepen into your highest potential. You feel more grounded, balanced and calm while practicing yoga, which is especially essential as hormones are changing. Prenatal yoga is designed to keep you healthy during pregnancy, as well as strong, soft and open, preparing you for optimal birthing. Also, it teaches you tools to be at ease as a new mum. It is encouraged to practice in a warm and safe space to connect, nurture and nourish yourself and maybe also other pregnant friends around you.

Yoga is a foundation for health and well-being. A regular yoga practice creates a routine for a healthy mother to follow, as well as a nurtured, calm, and aware baby. Your energy is directly linked to your baby’s. Therefore, taking part in beautiful, peaceful practices during pregnancy, will already plant seeds for your baby’s well-being. And the rippling effect goes far beyond, building an environment of peace, harmony, and balance to encircle you.

Tips for a happy yoga session:
Listen to your body. Everybody is unique and everybody’s body is different. Yoga is a healing art, so please do not do something that is painful.

Enjoy. Let go and RELAX ☺

Nurture and love your changing body and baby growing inside of you.

Start your yoga practice by connecting with your baby and body, setting an intention, making a wish or saying something that you grateful for.

Pranayama (breathing exercises) are especially beneficial during pregnancy: slow and controlled, relaxed, deep yogic breathing is absolutely wonderful to practice, as it is one of the most effective ways to stay calm & steady. Let every breath feed your baby. You can practice breathing exercise while stroking belly. (Your breath will help you stay grounded during birth.)

Pranayama is the Sanskrit word for breath control and is a pivotal element of yoga which holds you in meditation and guides you through gentle stretches. Breathing techniques are definitely one of the main focuses of pregnancy yoga, as the breath is an automatic relaxation tool. It is your control centre for slowing down and connecting with every moment. Breath teaches you to stay in control of the normal cascade of hormones surges during labour and for the delivery of your baby and during early days as a new mother. Throughout pregnancy slow, relaxed yogic breathing nourishes every cell of the mother and feeds the baby, as well.

Tips for deep, yogic breathing:
When taking deep breaths, breathe in and out through the nose.
With every inhalation, feel the breath go in through the nose, fill the chest, belly and baby.
With every exhalation, follow the breath as the belly slightly goes in, the chest contracts and the breath leaves the nose.
Again inhalation: in through the nose, cool air, chest expands, belly and baby fill with the air.
Exhalation: belly goes in slightly, chest contracts, follow the warm air out of the nose.

The correct form of exercise during pregnancy is important. Yoga and walking are optimal, while running and other gym activities can be inappropriate for a pregnant woman. Women benefit by staying fit, strong and active, relaxed and with good stamina for delivery and being a new mum. It is important to keep in mind that the relaxin hormone is higher during pregnancy, so not to overstretch. Also, the pelvic floor muscles must be looked after and there can be other considerations, such as the separation of tummy muscles. It is important to practice yoga with a practitioner who is aware of these factors, or ideally in a pregnancy yoga class. Also, yoga marries the creative, pure energy of sattick Ayurvedic practices, creating a balanced lifestyle between rest and activity.

In terms of asanas (positions):
-Yes: Squats & Lunges to open hips and legs
Pelvic floor stretches (slow ones and quicker ones)
All 4s (ie cat/cow and lower back rotations), extending one leg out behind you and lifting it.
Sitting positions, while propping yourself up on a blanket, block or bolster
Gentle neck rotations and massaging the lower back part of the head, shoulders.
Gentle twists
Standing poses that are soft and nourishing are good to keep up stamina and strength.
-No: No lying on ur belly poses after month 3-4
No deep twists
No overstretching (as your more elastic than before and this can create problems later)
No deep inversions, so take it easy with bridge
(& try puppy dog on four arms and knees, instead of downdog in third trimester)
No hot yoga (a warm room is ok, as long as you’re well hydrated)

*Shivasana (final relaxation): By the third trimester lie on left side with a pillow between knees.

Relaxation Exercises and Reconciliation:
Pregnancy can be a time for self-reflection and rebirth. Please relax and reconcile. Simple relaxation techniques, such as body scanning to release tension through the muscles and areas of the body can ensure that you are at ease and letting go. During pregnancy it is good to stay happy and positive, but moreover, it is essential to heal and release pent-up emotions. Suppression and aggression are not helpful to yourself, baby or community

Reconciliation and aware communication are foundations for improving yourself and relationships. Humans are created to help each other. You can acknowledge and reconcile with pain and discomfort in order to create the best environment for your little one(s) and so that you can continue on your unique path. Disease is associate with a lack of ease and emotions that effect the body, mind and spirit. Once you express yourself in a healthy way, all will benefit and feel the affect.

Post-natal yoga:
After taking part in pregnancy yoga, you will feel a sense of joy to return to the wisdom of yoga once your baby is born. The early days of a newborn mother is a time to be filled with love, bonding with her newborn, and breastfeeding. Yoga will rejuvenate you when you are tired, help you release stress and focus your attention on aware communication/parenting. Yoga is also so much fun to do together with a newborn by your side and to continue onward as mums & bub grow together and learn from one another.

Laura Shaz is a yoga instructor, massage therapist, Ayurvedic Lifestyle consultant, and mum of a toddler. She is passionate about working with women to create a safe, healing space for them to develop a routine of health and well-being. She teaches mums-to-be and mums self-healing practices through ancient Ayurvedic and yogic wisdom and incites to treat themselves and their babies.

Laura also facilitates groups and teaches aware communication (non-violent communication/NVC). These techniques are vital for reconciliation, better cooperation and conflict prevention, which are pivotal for health. She encourages mums to empower themselves and their babies through deep presence together, close connection and peaceful, healthy dialogue (or release of emotions/crying for babies) to feel more relaxed and to create the foundation for harmonious communication.