Can pregnant women do yoga?

Yoga during pregnancy: what to look out for!

Have you been doing yoga for a while and are now pregnant? Or do you have no yoga experience at all and would like to start doing it during pregnancy? "Yoga during pregnancy is always a good idea", Beate McLatchie from Bali Yoga Vienna is sure of. She herself has two children and has been yoging for over 20 years. "Yoga benefits pregnant women on all levels - physically, mentally, and emotionally." The expert explains what you have to look out for as a pregnant woman and how you can use yoga to prepare yourself perfectly for the birth.

What are the benefits of yoga during pregnancy?

Benefits to the mind
Yoga & meditation during pregnancy gives the mother time for herself and her baby - away from everyday life. Moments to connect with the "lodger" and with yourself, to look inward, to breathe deeper and thus to gain peace and balance for both of you.

Benefits for the body
In addition to the inner enrichment, yoga alleviates physical ailments that normally a pregnancy brings with it, such as back, neck or shoulder cramps, fatigue, heartburn, nausea or varicose veins.

Preparation for childbirth
Yoga also supports the expectant mother in preparation for the birth through targeted yoga positions (asanas) to open up the hip and pelvic floor area in particular and to strengthen the legs. Pranayama (targeted yogic breathing exercises) and regular and conscious deep breathing during the asanas are certainly the greatest gift for childbirth.

Prana (brings life energy into flow) releases internal and external blockages and thus leads to a general holistic well-being.

How does yoga for pregnant women differ from “normal” yoga?

In pregnancy yoga, the exercises are adapted to the expectant mother and it is NO longer about going to your limits, persevering or reaching new, difficult positions, but only going as far as it is beneficial, pleasant and relieving for the mother and her stomach .
The stomach is always kept very loose and never tense. This also means that abdominal muscle exercises are deliberately left out so as not to put pressure on the baby.

Twists are specifically practiced in the upper body area and not in the lumbar vertebra area, so as not to cause any constriction for the baby. Rotations such as shoulder and headstand are very important to keep the circulation going and are generally only done by experienced yoga mothers. Beginners can put their legs up against the wall (Viparita Karani).
In addition, I advise never to hold your breath, not to jump and to practice balance asanas on the wall (because of balance).

After the 18th week you shouldn't lie on your back or stomach that long, so I recommend the left side position here.

As a pregnant woman is “more flexible” thanks to the additional hormone relaxin, “overstretching” is possible, especially in the hip and leg area, so I advise you not to stay in this position for too long and listen to your body.

Which exercise relieves the back?

During pregnancy, you should generally not “carry your stomach in front of you” but “bring it back to you” again and again, move it slightly towards your spine and do this during yoga exercises (asanas).
Rocking movements and side stretches are ideal to relieve the back. Hips circling like in belly dancing to a favorite song or the cat-cow position on all fours is a wonderful relief!

© Video: WOMAN

The side stretching can be done at any time while sitting or standing.
Savasana, simply relaxing, lying down on your left side, and placing a cushion between your knees and head, often gives lower back relief.

© Video: WOMAN

Which exercise is suitable as preparation for birth?

The hip openers are ideal for birth preparation, especially Malasana, the squat (unless the cervix is ​​open early). In this position, the baby is naturally born in some cultures. The Balinese often sit like this the whole day - while cooking, washing, eating, chatting - and it is reported that births in Asia are much more problematic, precisely because the hip and pelvic floor area is much more open than we Western women who are used to cross your legs while sitting. Yoga offers a whole range of hip opener exercises: sitting, standing, and lying down.

© Video: WOMAN

How important is meditation in pregnancy?

I advise meditating daily, especially during pregnancy - even if only for 5 minutes. Meditation not only gives strength and calm, but also often answers open questions. This primordial connection creates great inner space and offers the opportunity to connect with something higher that can also provide you with great support during the birth.

What is the role of breathing?

By far the greatest enrichment is becoming aware of and practicing breathing - for me this is the number 1 priority of the practice. In the end, it is the mother's breath that carries through her birth - like a wave carries a surfer. Breathing helps the mother-to-be to come into the present and to receive contractions and ride like waves rather than fight against them. Breathing provides distraction, immersion, and connection. In addition to deep breathing, yoga also offers very specific breathing exercises (pranayama) such as Nadi Shodana (alternating breathing) and Brahmari (one hums like a bee), which not only provides the expectant mother with prana but also internally calms, balances and strengthens.

When shouldn't you do yoga?

I always advise to discuss the planned yoga practice with the doctor beforehand, whether it is really good in individual cases, because there are definitely cases and exceptions where yoga and certain asanas are not appropriate, such as:
• If the cervix is ​​already open (do not squat!)
• With certain heart, lung and blood pressure problems
• if premature birth is suspected or the placenta is low
• if you have severe anemia and bleeding

Please also refrain from hot yoga during pregnancy!

Can you do yoga until the last day before giving birth?

If it feels good, you can do yoga until birth. I have already had a few pregnant students and friends who came to class by the due date.

Which aids are used in pregnancy yoga?

I like to teach with the so-called “Yoga Props”. These aids are a wonderful additional support for the expectant mother, especially during pregnancy.

1. Please always have some folded blankets ready to sit on for breathing and meditation, to put them under your knees in case of pain, or under your head when relaxing or to simply cover yourself up for extra warmth - blankets are very important !

2. Yoga blocks make a nicer pregnancy companion if you can't hit the floor in standing positions.

3. Yoga rolls not only support the body in asanas where you lie on your back, but are also great for relaxing or sleeping between your knees - it is not for nothing that the Dutch call this aid “the Dutch Wife”.

4. In addition, I recommend gentle yoga music during your practice at home, a candle for your meditation and essential oils (watch out for allergies) for self-massage or just a few drops of lavender oil on your temples.

Further information and courses can be found at: www.baliyoga.wien