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Posts tagged ‘Physical exercise’

Pregnancy and Yoga: FAQ


When you are pregnant everyone has an opinion and an important skill to learn early on in the pregnancy is to be able to listen to these opinions, comment politely and then make up your own mind. There are as many different ways of having and raising children as there are children, and once your child is born you need to do what works for you and your family, not what worked for someone else. This doesn’t mean you should ignore advice that is given to you. Usually it will be being dished out by women who have been there and done this before, and knowing what works for others is often a good indicator of what may work for you. Ultimately however the decision is going to be up to you, and so you will learn to collate the collective advise and filter the wisdom from the opinion. One of the pieces that you will find almost universally recommended by those who have tried it is Pre Natal yoga, but a lot of women get nervous about the idea of starting an exercise program when their bodies are going through so many changes. This article deals with some of the most common questions that will be asked about Pre-natal Yoga.


A pregnant woman

A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Question One: Why Should I Do Yoga While I Am Pregnant?

There are numerous benefits of Yoga for pregnant women, physical, mental and also spiritual. In a nutshell Pre-Natal Yoga is designed to give you a toolbox of techniques and methods for dealing with your pregnancy, your labour and even the stressful times of the first few days, weeks and months after the birth. People who complete Prenatal Yoga are better equipped to deal with the babies delivery itself as well as the recovery period after the birth.

Question Two: Is It Safe To Learn Yoga During Pregnancy?

It is perfectly safe to start Yoga during your pregnancy provided you begin your class with a qualified Prenatal Yoga teacher. Prenatal Yoga is specifically designed for pregnancy because there are exercises and techniques in a regular Yoga session that are not appropriate for a pregnant women. It’s also recommended to wait until after the first trimester is complete before you commence a Yoga class as this first trimester is a time for babies to grow and develop, whereas later they will be increasing with size in preparation for the birth and the mother needs to take advantage of the opportunity Yoga presents to ease this process. Talk to your instructor about your pregnancy before the class begins so you can be sure that they understand anything unique to your pregnancy that may require exercises to be modified(for instance women carrying twins are encouraged not to do squatting exercises).

Question Three: How Will Yoga Benefit Me Physically?

Yoga is a discipline which is designed to regulate the blood flow and breathing as well as strengthen the body in general. All of these factor in the benefits to pregnant women. Blood flow is of course critical in ensuring that your body is getting all the nutrients and oxygen to all the organs that need it. It’s possible for baby to get greedy and hog these resources, or the opposite could happen and the baby is deprived of what is needed to grow. The increased strength will help deal with the delivery by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. This can potentially shorten the duration of labour and it will definitely decrease the time it takes for the vaginal passage to recover from the birth. There is even strong evidence that the increased blood flow to the skin will assist in avoiding and/or recovering from stretch marks.

Question Four: Should I keep doing Yoga after the Birth?

Why not? You will keep getting all the benefits discussed above and more. You will probably want to go to at least one standard yoga class, as these can be quite different than the prenatal Yoga. Of course life can be quite hectic with a new baby so the opportunities to attend formal classes are probably going to be few and far between. Luckily one of the biggest benefits of Yoga as an exercise regime is that it doesn’t require specialized equipment, so it’s possible to do in the comfort of your own home during those few precious moments when your baby is asleep.

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Yoga 101

Yoga has been around for an incredibly long time and over that period different practitioners have added their own refinements and styles into the basic Yoga discipline. There are so many different styles now it is nearly impossible to count, but they all stem from the same core philosophy and methodology. Unfortunately the multiple different styles often lead newcomers to the exercise discipline to become very confused as to what they are doing and what they can hope to achieve with Yoga. In this article we answer some of the common questions.

What is Yoga?

This question is the most common from newcomers. Most people have a general idea but they are not sure where Yoga fits into the world. Is it an exercise? Is it a philosophy? Is it a form of physical therapy? Is it a spiritual process? The answer is that to different people Yoga is all of these things. At it’s core it is a group of exercises and poses which are very low impact and work by strengthening the body and increasing it’s flexibility through static exercise. This means that each pose will ‘stretch’ a certain area and the body benefits from this stretch by increased blood flow and energy release. Many of the exercises release tension from areas of the body that regular activities do not cater to. Because Yoga is performed slowly and with a strong emphasis on correct breathing patterns there is also a strong mental and spiritual element to the exercise. It is seen as a way of cleansing mind, body and spirit.

Do I Need To Be Religious To Get The Most Out Of Yoga?

As mentioned above Yoga is different things to different people. There are many people in the world who perform Yoga purely for it’s spiritual benefits. There are many others who perform Yoga purely for the physical benefits associated with it. What you get out of Yoga will depend largely on your mindset, your openness to new ideas and your ability to let yourself fall fully into a meditative state. For some people this is very difficult at first, but that is still not going to prevent them from getting the physical benefits associated with Yoga classes. You will find that even if you do not have any strong spiritual base you will still benefit from an increase in your self-confidence and personal contentment.

YOGA

YOGA (Photo credit: Raios de Luz – Gláucia Góes)

Where Can I Do Yoga?

Practically anywhere. Many people practice Yoga in their homes every day. Others will go to the local park and practice Yoga with a group of friends. To begin with it’s a good idea to inquire at your local gym about Yoga classes, many of them will be holding Yoga every day. Even if they aren’t they will be able to tell you where the best place to learn Yoga is. Some local councils sponsor Yoga classes in their area in recognition of the benefits to people who exercise regularly. One of the big advantages of a Yoga based exercise regime is that there is no expensive equipment to buy and then store around your house. Some poses are assisted by cushions to support the body, but in general the only thing you need is your body.

English: A dancer of Sri Devi Nrithyalaya perf...

English: A dancer of Sri Devi Nrithyalaya performing one of the Karanas (key transitional poses) of Natya Yoga. This pose is identical to Natarajasana of Hatha Yoga. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m Not Very Fit – Is Yoga For Me?

Yes. Very much so. One of the fantastic things about Yoga is that the exercises and poses you will learn can be adjusted to your level. Fitness isn’t usually a problem because the exercises are slow and often static, but your body will become better at performing them over time as your strength and flexibility improves. Knowing your limit and ensuring that you don’t ‘ease up’ out of habit gain the best benefit.

Hopefully you will now have a good understanding of what yoga is and why you should be doing it. Remember that Yoga is something that once learned can be practiced anywhere you like and as often as you like. Indeed, this is one of the key components of Yoga’s popularity.

Yoga 23

Yoga 23 (Photo credit: o0bsessed)

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A Life Philosophy

Yoga is different things to different people, so what it means to you will depend greatly on how you were introduced to it and how you enjoyed your initial experiences with it. For some people Yoga is simply a method of exercising that ensures they have a healthy supple body. For other people Yoga transcends a method of exercise and is a spiritual experience that allows them to find the balance and centring their lives need. This type of Yoga comes closer to a life philosophy than any other.

Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga is often placed in this final type when assessing it’s place as a Yoga discipline. It descends from a document known as Korunta Yoga which deals with the 8 spiritual movements which are described by Patanjali in Sutra Yoga. Today most Yoga disciplines are directly descended from the descriptions of Yoga exercises in these documents, and so most forms of Yoga are variations of Ashtanga Vinyasi.

Getting a complete understanding of Ashtanga Yoga is important as it’s proponents treat it as more that a form of exercise. While it’s base is in physical movement it is suggested that it’s power in fact comes from the strength of spirit that is developed from regular and disciplined practice of the 8 stages of Yoga. Through the eight stages of Yoga the body and mind become pure, and so they are seen as a purifying discipline.

This Statue of Shiva is Approximately 65 feet ...

Image via Wikipedia

Furthermore the discipline of Ashtanga Vinyasa deals with a profound and deep way of relating to others. The closest word to describe this aspect of the Yoga discipline is manners, but it really does go beyond that. Yoga is a discipline of balance, and the physical balance required to complete many of the exercises should be mirrored by an internal balance or harmony of the soul. It is said that a hyperactive person canot be successful with Yoga and this is true on several levels. Firstly they lack the discipline to sit calmly through the exercises, but they also lack the mental calm to focus wholly and completely on a single task. Yoga requires deep concentrating on the simple act of breathing and feeling the breath bring life to different areas of your body.

The power of Yoga is found in it’s combination of the physical strength and flexibility needed to complete movements and the mental discipline that is required to maintain them. Yoga is not just a form of exercise but most often it is thought of as a form of meditation. Meditating successfully with Yoga requires a pureness of thought and singularity of focus that is not found in most modern exercise programs. It seeks to bring the body back into balance and focus on maintaining that balance.

This aspect of Yoga is often misunderstood, but balance plays a huge role in Eastern Medicine and the purpose of Yoga and similar meditative techniques is often no more than to achieve and maintain the level of balance that keeps our bodies healthy. Yoga teachers will often talk about one-ness and inner harmony, and this can be mis-interpreted by people who lack a holistic understanding of what Yoga seeks to achieve. Simple the harmony that is achieved through Meditation and Yoga is a self-contentment or acceptance of oneself. This shows that the first step to becoming completely happy and healthy is to be content with yourself and your life.

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