By Sangeetha Saran
Many expectant mothers enjoy the second trimester of pregnancy. They no longer have morning sickness, and the baby is not large enough to crowd the abdominal organs. Big changes, however, are on the way, and anecdotal and scientific evidence shows that Yoga can help.
Yoga and Progesterone
The hormone progesterone, which rises during pregnancy, relaxes the walls of blood vessels and loosens smooth muscles, improving circulation and helping the digestive system do its job. As a result, blood pressure falls, and the body absorbs more nutrients. Relaxin, another hormone influenced by progesterone, softens connective tissue, making ligaments and joints more flexible.
Pregnant women benefit from Yoga, but certain precautions are necessary. While every woman should listen to her own body, teachers should know which poses are safe and how to adapt them for individual use.
What Not to Do
• Hot Yoga, also known as Bikram Yoga
• Deep forward or backward bends
• Poses that require lying flat on the back or the belly
• Strenuous twists that work the deep abdominal muscles
• Standing poses with no support
Poses for the Second Trimester
Standing poses strengthen the legs and prevent swelling in the feet and ankles, but they should be done by a chair or a wall for support.
• Warrior Poses I, II, III
• Extended Side Angle Pose
• Extended Triangle Pose
• Tree Pose
• Half Moon Pose
Hip and chest openers reduce back pain, increase flexibility and improve balance. They also release negative emotions held in the first and second chakras and move energy through the body. These poses can be adapted with the use of folded blankets, pillows or chairs.
• Reclining Big Toe Pose
• Cow Face Pose
• Reverse Prayer Pose
• Reclining Hero Pose
• Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Not every asana is difficult. Gentle breathing and meditation help women deal with discomfort during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Likewise, simple exercises like neck rolls and shoulder shrugs help to get rid of tension, and gentle hamstring stretches eliminate painful symptoms of sciatica.
While prenatal classes offer the bonus of a built-in support group, not everyone has access. Those who practice at home might work with a certified prenatal Yoga instructor to establish a safe routine or use one of the many videos for pregnant moms.
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