A regular and specific yoga practice before, during and after pregnancy is a powerful support along the journey. The mother-to-be gains flexibility, suppleness and strength with the Asanas. She gets energy for two with practicing Pranayamas. And also the meditation will provide her serenity. Thoughts and wonders that come with this experience and produce unneeded extra tension can easily be overcome with yoga, as its practice is a key to relaxation.
However the most important effect is probably the Union that is being created between the mum-to-be and the baby. The mother is not conscious of the growing of the baby, nevertheless with yoga practice, she becomes more aware, fully experiencing the relationship. This first communication through the womb, will determinate, partially the new child’s being.
I Yoga for pregnant women:
Pregnancy is a special condition, requiring special Asanas. Those Asanas will focus on areas of the body; such as stomach muscles, back muscles, and pelvic area.
Stomach muscles are to be strengthened to ensure that the baby is well carried. Also it will help pushing harder during delivery.
Some of the Asanas the pregnant woman can practice are:
Vajransana (thunderbolt pose)
Shashankasana (moon pose)
Ushtrasana (camel pose)
Hamasana (swan pose)
Since extra weight is carried during pregnancy it is important to reinforce the back muscles:
Supta vajrasana ( sleeping thunderbolt pose)
Shashankasana (moon pose)
A relaxed and flexible pelvic makes the “labor” easier:
Shashankasana (moon pose)
Marjariasana (cat pose)
Vyaghrasana (tiger pause)
Crossed legged poses are good to reduce sensation of heaviness and also avoid circulation problems and swelling of the ankles after pregnancy.
Suggested squats to prepare pregnancy are: crow walking, chopping wood, namaskarasana. During pregnancy marjariasana, kandharasana, and pranamasana can give great help to the body.
A simple squatting like kaliasana is the natural pose used to delivery in squatting position. For that the women should be prepared to remain for 10 to 15 minutes in this pose, with flat heels; it works with the gravity low. Whilst in supine position (during the labor) the mother is pushing, nevertheless it’s good to realize that in this position doctor and midwife can only give a nominal guidance.
Regarding the different stages of pregnancy, some advice should be given:
It is safe for the mother and the baby to practice yoga as usual until the third month.
From the fourth month to the sixth one the pregnant woman should avoid any particular stress or violent contractions in the stomach, as well as strenuous upward stretching.
At six month the mum-to-be should avoid extreme bending forward and backward.
If any complication occurred during the childbirth, it is well recommended to go back to yoga practice in the following days. Starting with basics and augmenting slowly the level of the asanas.
II Two aspects that also involve the baby:
The influence of the pre-birth environment is important in determining how the individual reactions will be.
The health and mental attitudes of the mother is reflected in the development of the child. It is helpful to practice relaxation and meditation to minimize emotional stress such as craving food, crying suddenly feeling depressed or having intense dreams.
Prana is the vital energy, and yama is the fact of controlling this vital energy that runs in the human body. . Therefore breathing exercises bring extra oxygen and remove the carbon dioxide. It also induces better blood circulation and the digestive system improves, therefore the heart is under less pressure, so can work less.
It calms the nervous system, as well as the mind. It is a whole balance. In other words, the breath is the key to manage stress, anxieties, and increase vitality. That creates a positive environment for the baby, who is depending on the mother's prana for the first 3 month. In the meantime it prepares the mother for labor.
During pregnancy it is recommended to practice basic abdominal breathing, bhastrika, nadi shodhana, ujayi. At mid-term, the growth of the baby enlarges the uterus until the point that the diaphragm is pushed upwards. That is why mothers-to-be experiment shortness of breath. It is important to make the effort to keep practicing deep breathing.
In the other hand, brahmari and Om chanting are two powerful sound techniques. Natural sounds (heartbeat, mum's voice, etc.) are comforting for the baby and it’s also the only sense he can use so far. It has a positive effect on the growing of the brain and also reduces stress and develops creativity.
4 types of breathing are recommended during labor:
Deep breathing at the beginning of the contractions
Bhastrika at the contraction peaks
Smooth breathing between the contraction
Antar kumbhara ( inner retention) while pushing
If moola bandha ( contraction of the muscles of the pelvic floor and perineum) has been practiced during the pregnancy it helps to relax those muscles.
Meditation and relaxation: yoga nidra:
Meditation is an experience of inner stillness. As a parent, your ability to continually return to this state will not only help you during pregnancy but also to respond to life's challenges for you and your family.
Yoga nidra is a succession of symbols and images that are evoked to be viewed as a witness with awareness. This visualization is useful for the mum to have a perception of the growth of the child in her womb. The mother is not conscientious of the growing of the baby nevertheless with this practice she'll become more and more aware, experiencing this most intimate relationship. If short breath is experimented in late pregnancy the woman can take matsyakridasana, where she lies on one side, with one leg straight and the upper knee bent and supported on a cushion so there is no pressure on the abdomen.
Sankalpa means resolve in Sanskrit. Making resolves is an important part of yoga practice. It is a tool to empower the mind and cultivate a positive aspect of our life. It has obvious benefits to create a positive approach to pregnancy and birthing (especially if the mother is afraid of birth-giving). This autosuggestion can be included at the beginning of your yoga nidra, as well as any yoga practice.
After the baby is born it is common that the mother experiments a post natal depression. Breathing exercises and meditation help with the “baby blues” caused by hormonal change.
Yoga is a wonderful support during pregnancy. It helps prepare your body to go through the whole journey. Asanas, pranamayas and meditation help to minimize the discomfort, whilst the baby is growing. During childbirth, breathing and a well prepared body give a chance to the mother to remain aware during the labor and maybe have a natural childbirth, without anesthetic. This way the mother can be consciously involved in the birth.
This brings a relaxed and peaceful scenario of the pregnancy which allows mother and child to be connected. The baby being very receptive in the womb, will have developed in the best atmosphere. This will bring balance and union to this beautiful duo 'mother and baby”.
This is a brief view of the positive effect of practicing during pregnancy, for the mum and the baby to come together. It isn't a complete study. If you wish you can find more information in:
Pre-natal yoga, Yoga association of Victoria, 2004.
Nawa yigini tantra, yoga for women, Swami Muktananda, 1983.
“The views expressed above are solely those of the author. Yogapoint.com may or may not agree with all views presented.”
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