Yoga is often seen as something for the super-fit ultra bendy people of this world. But it's not a mystical thing that's only good for some people. Studied have shown that there can be great benefits of poses and breathing for everyone - and specifically for pregnant and postnatal women.
It's completely normal to have some feelings of anxiety - especially during great periods of change in your life. There are some links between continued anxiety in pregnancy and postnatal depression and negative outcomes for the baby -including premature birth, low birth weight and developmental issues. But what can yoga classes do to help this and how?
Pregnancy yoga classes combine specially adapted poses for pregnant women with relaxation and breathing exercises.
A study at Manchester University showed great improvements for pregnant women; a single session of yoga was found to reduce self-reported anxiety by one third and stress hormone levels by 14%. The research was based on women taking an 8 week course, and their findings at the end of the sessions were around the same.
“The results confirm what many who take part in yoga have suspected for a long time. There is also evidence yoga can reduce the need for pain relief during birth and the likelihood for delivery by emergency caesarean section."
- Professor John Aplin
It's great news that these accessible, gentle classes can give such a wide range of benefits, and doubly good if regular yoga classes can impact positively on the outcomes for babies. The baby charity baby charity Tommy’s who carried out the research in Manchester said:
“At least 1 in 10 women experience mental health problems during pregnancy, yet previous research from Tommy’s has shown that the stigma is so great, many women never get help for their feelings. This study shows that pregnant women may be able to use yoga to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, which in turn may help prevent them developing post-natal depression. We already know that pregnancy yoga can help improve physical health and strength on the run up to having a baby, and this new evidence shows that it may have important benefits for women’s emotional health too.”
If you're thinking about joining a class, make sure that you choose a teacher who's qualified and go to a specific pregnancy yoga class. Qualified teachers will be more aware of your needs and able to make changed to accommodate your changing body, plus you get the benefit of making friends with women who are having babies around the same time as you. Not sure when to start classes? You can read more here.
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