YOGA IN PREGNANCY Print
Written by Dr. Soni Kapil & Dr. B.P. Tripathi   

Yoga Asana or exercises are ways of moving or holding the body in different positions. Yoga has several exercises or postures that work wonders on a woman’s health and in pregnancy conditions. These postures gently stretch and explore all parts of body. During pregnancy, Yoga asana are a gentle way to keep active and supple. The remarkable effects of these postures in pregnancy show the power of Yoga for ensuring a smooth pregnancy, natural child birth and restoration of body shape after childbirth.
Yoga helps the pregnant women during prenatal period, delivery and postnatal period-
Prenatal period
1.    Yoga helps to reduce nausea, morning sickness and mood swings in combination with Pranayamas (Yogic breathing).
2.    It raises the level of energy while also helping in slowing the metabolism to restore calm and focus.
3.    It helps in relieving edema (fluid retention) and cramping which can be quite common in the last months.
4.    Yoga helps in influencing the position of the baby and turning it in advance if needed, strengthening and massaging the abdomen
       which helps stimulate bowel action and appetite.
5.    Focus on relieving tension around the cervix and birth canal.
6.    Focus on opening the pelvis to make labour easier and quicker.

During Delivery
1.    Practicing Yoga before and during pregnancy can improve a woman’s stamina and confidence during labor and delivery.
2.    Being healthy from Yoga practice is likely to facilitate the proper release of hormones for a normal (vaginal) labor and delivery.
3.    The conditioning gained from mulabandha may help to push the baby out more efficiently than without such conditioning.
4.    Tension can lead to withholding of breath, with Yoga preparation, one can identify the tension, soften the body relax the thoughts
       and release the breath and aids in delivery process.
5.    Meditation can improve the abilities to relax and concentrate. Through Yoga one can learn how to identify when you are holding
      the tension that leads to pain in your body.

Postnatal Care
1. Yoga helps in restoring the uterus, abdomen and pelvic floor.
2.    It relieves upper back tension and breast discomfort.
First Trimester
1. Ardha Titali Asan (Half Butterfly): Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. Movement of leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Repeat with left leg. Slowly practice about 10 up and down movements with each leg.
Benefits: It is an excellent practice for loosening of hip and knee joints, which shall enable faster delivery.
2. Poorna Titali Asan (Full Butterfly): Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to the body as possible. Fully relax the inner thighs. Clasp the feet with both hands.   Gently bounce the knees up and down, using the elbows as levers to press the legs down. Do not use any force. Repeat up to 20-30 times. Straighten the legs and relax.
Benefits: Tension from inner thigh muscles is relieved. Removes tiredness from legs.
3. Supta Udarakarshan Asan (Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose): Lie in the back. Interlock fingers of both hands and place hands beneath the head. Bend knees, keeping the soles of feet on the floor. While breathing out lower the legs towards the right, trying to touch the knees on the floor. At the same time move the head towards the left, giving uniform twisting stretch to the entire spine. Repeat on the other side by bending legs towards left, and head towards right.
Benefits: Removes constipation, improves digestion. Relieves stiffness and strain of spine caused by prolonged sitting.
4. Chakki Chalan Asan (Churning the Mill Pose): Sit with legs stretched out in front of the body about one foot apart. Interlock fingers of both hands and hold the arms out straight in front of the chest. Make large circular movements over both feet, trying to take the hands over the toes on the forward swing and coming as far back as possible on the backward swing. Practice 10 times in each direction.
Benefits: Excellent asan for toning the nerves and organs of pelvis and abdomen preparing them for pregnancy. Useful in regulating menstrual cycle. Also an excellent post natal exercise.
5. Kashta Takshan Asan (Chopping Wood Pose): Sit in squatting pose with feet flat on the ground and one and a half feet apart. Clasp fingers of hand and place them on the floor between the feet. Straighten the arms and keep them straight throughout the practice. Elbows should be inside the knees. Imagine the action of chopping wood. Raise arms as high as possible, behind the head, stretching the spine upward. Look up towards the hands. Make a downward stroke. Expel the breath making an "Ha" sound and removing all air from the lungs. Hands should return towards the feet. This is one round. Practice 5-10 rounds.
Benefits: It loosens the pelvic girdle and tones the pelvic muscles.
6. Marjari Asan (Cat Stretch Pose): Sit with buttocks on the heels (Vajrasan). Raise the buttocks and stand on the knees. Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor. This is the starting position. Inhale while raising the head and depressing the spine so that the back becomes concave. Exhale, while lowering the head and stretching the spine upward. At the end of the exhalation contract the abdomen and pull in the buttocks. Head will be now between the arms, facing the thighs. This is one round. It may be done for 5-10 times .Be careful not to strain yourself.
Benefits: This asan improves flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spine. Tones female reproductive system. Can be safely practiced during first 6 months of pregnancy.
7. Kati Chakrasan (Waist Rotating Pose): Stand with the feet about half a meter apart and the arms by the sides. Inhale while raising the arms to shoulder level. Exhale and twist body to left. Bring right hand to left shoulder and wrap left arm around the back. Look over left shoulder. Hold breath for 2 seconds, inhale and return to starting position. Keep feet firmly on ground while twisting. Repeat on other side. Do twisting smoothly without any jerks. Do about 5-10 rounds.
Benefits: Tones waist, back and hips . Induces a feeling of lightness and used to relieve physical and mental tension.
8. Tadasan (Palm Tree Pose): Stand with feet together and arms on the side. Raise arms over the head, interlock fingers and then turn the palms upward. Place hands over the head. Inhale and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upwards. Raise heels to come up on the toes. Stretch whole body from top to bottom. Lower heels while exhaling and bring hands on top of the head. Relax for few seconds and repeat whole round 5-10 times. Benefits: Helps develop physical and mental balance. Entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear congestion of the spinal nerves. Also stretches rectos abdominal muscles keeping the nerves toned.
 9. Utthanasan (Squat and Rise Pose): Stand erect on feet about a meter apart, with toes turned out. Interlock fingers of both hands and let them hang loosely in front of the body. Slowly bend knees and lower buttocks. Straighten knees and return to upright position.
Benefits: Strengthens muscles of middle back, uterus, thighs and ankles.
10. Kandharasan (Shoulder Pose): Lie flat on back. Bend knees, place soles of feet flat on the floor with the heels touching the buttocks. Feet and knees may be hip width apart. Grasp ankles with hands. Raise buttocks and arch back backward. Try to raise the chest and navel as high as possible, without moving feet or shoulders. In final position, the body is supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms and feet. Hold pose as long as it is comfortable. Release ankles and relax.
Benefits: Realigns the spine and relieves backache. It massages and stretches the colon and abdominal organs, improving digestion. Tones female reproductive organs and especially recommended for women who tend to miscarry. Should not be done in advanced stages of pregnancy.
* Under expert guidance, it has been successfully used to turn the baby when it is a breech presentation.
 Second Trimester
1. Matsya Kridasan (Flapping Fish Pose): Lie on stomach with fingers interlocked under the head. Bend the left leg sideways and bring the left knee close to the ribs. Right leg should remain straight. Swivel the arms to the left and rest the left elbow on the left knee. If this is not comfortable rest it on the floor. Rest the right side of the head on the right arm. Relax in the final pose, and after some time, change sides. Bent knee and head may be supported on a pillow for further comfort.
 Benefits: Stimulates digestion and removes constipation. Relaxes nerves of the legs. In later months of pregnancy, lying on the back may cause pressure over major veins and block the circulation. In such circumstances, this posture is ideal for relaxing and sleeping. Also redistributes excess weight around waistline.
2. Vajrasan (Thunderbolt Pose): Kneel on the floor. Bring big toes together and separate the heels. Lower the buttocks onto the inside surface of the feet with heels touching the side of the hips. Place hands on knees, palms down. Back and head should be straight , but not tense.
Benefits: Enhances digestive functions and can be practices directly after meals. Relieves stomach ailments like hyperacidity often a trouble faced during pregnancy. Alters blood flow and nervous impulses in the pelvic region and strengthens pelvic muscles. Assists women in labour.
3. Bhadrasan (Gracious Pose): Sit in vajrasan (above). Separate the knees as far as possible, while keeping the toes in contact with the floor. Separate the feet just enough to allow the buttocks and perineum to rest on the floor. Try to separate the knees. Do not strain.
Benefits: Same as vajrasan.
4. Marjari Asan (Cat Stretch Pose): Sit with buttocks on the heels (Vajrasan). Raise the buttocks and stand on the knees. Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor. This is the starting position. Inhale while raising the head and depressing the spine so that the back becomes concave. Exhale, while lowering the head and stretching the spine upward. At the end of the exhalation contract the abdomen and pull in the buttocks.
Head will be now between the arms, facing the thighs. This is one round. It may be done for 5-10 times .Be careful not to strain yourself.
Benefits: This asan improves flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spine. Tones female reproductive system. Can be safely practiced during first 6 months of pregnancy.
5. Hasta Utthanasan (Hand Raising Pose: Stand with feet together and arms on the sides. Cross hands in front of body. Inhale and slowly raise arms over the head, keeping them crossed. At same time bend head slightly backward and look up at the hands.
Exhale and spread arms out to the sides at shoulder level.. Inhale and reverse the movement, re-crossing the arms above the head. Exhale and lower the arms straight down in front of the body.
 Benefits: Removes stiffness from the shoulders and upper back. The deep synchronized breath improves breathing capacity. Influences heart and improves blood circulation. Whole body, especially the brain receives an extra supply of oxygen.
6. Tadasan (Palm Tree Pose): Stand with feet together and arms on the side. Raise arms over the head, interlock fingers and then turn the palms upward. Place hands over the head. Inhale and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upwards. Raise heels to come up on the toes. Stretch whole body from top to bottom. Lower heels while exhaling and bring hands on top of the head. Relax for few seconds and repeat whole round 5-10 times.
Benefits: Helps develop physical and mental balance. Entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear congestion of the spinal nerves. Also stretches rectos abdominal muscles keeping them nerves toned
7. Kati Chakrasan (Waist Rotating Pose)
8. Utthanasan (Squat and Rise Pose)
9. Meru Akarshanasan (Spinal Bending pose): Lie on right side with left leg on right leg. Bend right arm. Placing the elbow on the floor. Support head on right palm. Place left arm on left thigh. Raise the left leg as high as possible, slide the left hand to the foot and grasp the big toe. Repeat on other side.
Benefits: Relaxes the hamstring, inner thigh and abdominal muscles and stretches the muscles of the sides of the body rendering them stronger and flexible.
Third Trimester
1.    Ardha Titali Asan (Half Butterfly): Described in first trimester asana.
2. Poorna Titali Asan (Full Butterfly): Described in first trimester asana.
3. Supta UdarakarshanAsan (Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose): Lie in the back. Bend knees, keeping the soles of feet on the floor. While breathing out lower the legs towards the right, trying to touch the knees on the floor. At the same time move the head towards the left, giving uniform twisting stretch to the entire spine. Repeat on the other side by bending legs towards left, and head towards right.
Benefits: Removes constipation, improves digestion. Relieves stiffness and strain of spine caused by prolonged sitting.
 4. Ankle Crank: Bend the right leg up and place the foot overhanging the left knee. Hold the right toes with the left hand. Steady the right ankle with the the right hand. Crank the right ankle around in a large circle, exploring to the very perimeters of movement. Do 10 rotations in each direction and then 10 rotations in each direction with the other ankle
Benefits: Good for stiffness and poor circulation in the feet. Helps extend setting time in meditation postures.
Pregnancy Advice: Specially useful in case of edema, cramping, post epidural numbness in the feet and legs.
5. Shoulder Rotation: Single Arm:- Place the right fingertips up on the right shoulder. Slowly rotate the arm and shoulder joint around as if drawing a large circle with the tip of the elbow.
Extend the movement to rotate fully into the shoulder joint. Do 5 times one way and then reverse the direction for 5 circles. Repeated on the left side.
Double Arm: Raise the arms up, fingers on both shoulders. Slowly rotate both arms together in large circles. Try to stretch the elbows as far back as possible, and try to touch them together at the front. Go 5 times in one direction and then 5 times reverse.
Inhale when opening the chest as the elbows go backwards, exhale when the elbows move towards touching at the front.
Benefits: Improves circulation and flexibility in the shoulders and upper back. Releases tensions from around the heart and lungs. Encourages better breathing. Especially effective for release of neck tension if followed by the neck series. For mothers-to-be, practice throughout pregnancy and post-natally as this exercise helps to stimulate proper function of the mammary glands.
Precautions During Pregnancy
First Trimester:
Yoga should not be practiced during first trimester if one has experienced a miscarriage or when high risk pregnancy factors are present. It is advisable to take a conservative approach to one’s practice, beginning with first trimester.
Second trimester: 
If one is having severe morning sickness, it is advisable to wait for the morning sickness to end (usually by 4th month) before resuming a regular Yoga practice.
Don’t practice Yoga empty stomach if morning sickness is mild, drink small quantities of water during practice to prevent dehydration and uterine contractions.
Don’t try to work up huge sweat.

Third trimester:
All above precautions plus inverted postures should be strongly discouraged because they may adversely affect blood flow to baby, plus undue pressure on the placenta, may increase the risk of the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck.
Postnatal period:
Wait three months after giving birth before resuming full Yoga practice. Since Yoga directs energy upward, wait until all of the lochia has been expelled from uterus to avoid causing cramping and prolonged bleeding. Another reason to wait three months is that the muscles, ligaments and joints are still soft from the pregnancy and birth, making you more prone to injuries during postpartum period.
1.Lecturer,
P.G. Dept. of Prauti Tantra & Stri Roga R.G.G.P.G. Ayu. College Paprola (H.P.)
2. Reader,
Govt. Ayurvedic College Riwa, (M.P.)

 
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DAV's Ayurveda for Holistic Health
ISSN 2348-6910 Volume - 1 , Issue: 28 , September 2015

Home arrow May 2011 arrow YOGA IN PREGNANCY

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Shri Punam Suri
President, DAV College Managing Committee,
New Delhi.

Patron
Dr. Ramesh Arya
Vice President, DAV College Managing Committee,
New Delhi.

Chief Editor
Dr. Raj Kumar Sharma
Asst. Director, Dayanand Ayurvedic College,
Jalandhar.
Ph: +91-9814204443

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Dr. Sanjeev Sood
Principal, Dayanand Ayurvedic College,
Ph. : +91-9814004142

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