Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice originating from India, involving breathwork, meditation, and a series of body postures, practiced for health and relaxation. In recent years, yoga has been increasingly integrated into prenatal care as a naturalistic remedy for symptom management before and during birth.
Is prenatal yoga beneficial?
According to the Mayo Clinic, prenatal yoga can help pregnant individuals improve their sleep, increase the flexibility and durability of the muscles necessary for childbirth, and decrease symptoms such as lower back pain, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath.
A 2014 randomized controlled study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety also found that regular prenatal yoga practice (8 weeks in duration in this study) resulted in powerful mental health benefits, such as reductions in anxiety and depression.
Is prenatal yoga safe for me and my baby?
Studies on the effects of prenatal yoga on birth outcomes are fairly recent and the existence of randomized control trials are still relatively rare. However, literature reviews, like this 2012 paper, indicate that yoga is associated with positive outcomes during pregnancy, labor, and post-partum.
A 2015 study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology on the effects of 26 different yoga poses performed by a group of women in their third trimester found that these poses did not affect blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, oxygen levels, contractions, and fetal heart rate.
Pregnant individuals should avoid hot yoga (performed in high temperature settings) according to a 2014 study in the journal Canadian Family Physician, due to the risk of the elevated temperature leading to neural tube defects and increased dehydration risk.
In this video, Stephanie Erazo, owner of Prana Wellness, will lead you through a 15 minute prenatal yoga and breathwork practice, designed to help bring your body and mind to a more peaceful state. In addition to her certification in prenatal and postpartum yoga, Stephanie has completed training in yoga, meditation, and breathwork with master yogis in Rishikesh, India.
In contrast to some traditional yoga practices, where the movements are both expansive and tightening,“In prenatal yoga, the most important thing is to create space” with your movements, says Stephanie.
Throughout the video, she emphasizes that practicing prenatal yoga is about listening to your body, modifying poses based on how you feel - and in doing so, strengthening your ability to make decisions throughout your pregnancy and birth.
00:00 - Introduction
02:15 - Grounding breaths (beginning)
04:41 - On listening to your body
05:31 - Arm and neck stretches, shoulder rolls
07:05 - Tabletop position and hip rolls
09:27 - Standing up and grounding breaths (midway)
10:05 - Wave squat
11:56 - lunges and hamstring stretch
14:35 - Grounding breaths (ending)
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to honor your health through prenatal yoga!
Newham, J. J., Wittkowski, A., Hurley, J., Aplin, J. D., & Westwood, M. (2014). Effects of antenatal yoga on maternal anxiety and depression: a randomized controlled trial. Depression and anxiety, 31(8), 631-640.↩
Curtis, K., Weinrib, A., & Katz, J. (2012). Systematic review of yoga for pregnant women: current status and future directions. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine, 2012.↩
Polis, R. L., Gussman, D., & Kuo, Y. H. (2015). Yoga in pregnancy: an examination of maternal and fetal responses to 26 yoga postures. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 126(6), 1237-1241.↩
Chan, J., Natekar, A., & Koren, G. (2014). Hot yoga and pregnancy: fitness and hyperthermia. Canadian Family Physician, 60(1), 41.↩