On a tatami, a group of pregnant women sit in a circle and reproduce the silhouette of a butterfly with their legs, an exercise that will help them to acquire greater mobility and flexibility of the hips. This first exercise is followed by others such as the cat or mountain posture. Yoga sessions that, practiced during pregnancy, help to increase relaxation, reducing anxiety, stress or insomnia, and also reduce physical discomfort, such as lower back pain or muscle cramps.

Interested in delving into the benefits that this discipline has for pregnant women, a group of specialists from the School of Nursing and Midwifery of Trinity College of the University of Dublin have carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis. published in magazine BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth with the title The characteristics and effectiveness of yoga interventions during pregnancy, the study concludes that yoga has positive effects during pregnancy not only on anxiety, depression or perceived stress, but also on the duration of labor, pain treatment and duration of labor.

Practicing physical exercise, in general, during pregnancy is considered essential for maternal health, for a better evolution of the pregnancy and, consequently, for fetal well-being. Regarding the practice of yoga, Dr. Raúl Villasevil Villasevil, a specialist physician at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid, believes that “it is a safe practice during this period of a woman’s life and It seems to have very beneficial effects both from the physical and emotional point of view, so its practice during pregnancy is highly recommended. As the article points out, yoga improves the stress perceived by the pregnant woman, as well as the anxious-depressive symptoms, constituting a very positive activity in the psycho-emotional sphere of the pregnant woman”.

An opinion that coincides with that of María De la Calle, obstetrician head of the risk pregnancy section of the Madrid University Hospital of La Paz. To the benefits listed by the previous experts, she adds others such as the improvements that her practice brings in the face of decreased respiratory capacity, lumbar hyperlordosis —pathological deformation of the spine—, increased cardiac output, venous stasis — condition that consists of slow blood circulation in the veins—and fluid retention in the lower limbs that women usually suffer during pregnancy. “The stress of childbirth is an important time to practice the breathing and meditation that yoga brings. And, in the postpartum period, this practice contributes to both physical and emotional recovery and allows the woman to have a space to dedicate herself ”, she assures.

However, although it is normal for this discipline to be practiced throughout the pregnancy, it is advisable, according to Dr. Raúl Villasevil Villasevil, “that the patient adapt it to her specific physical condition, especially if she has never practiced it before, being advised against in humid or high-temperature environments, such as bikram yoga”. De la Calle also advises against practicing a more physical yoga, “for example, in those cases in which pregnant women are at risk of premature delivery or at risk of bleeding (such as threatened abortion, bruising, placenta previa) and have to stay Resting. In these cases, it is more advisable to incorporate a more meditative yoga, in which breathing is worked.

For her part, Dr. Anna Suy, president of the Perinatology section of the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, also emphasizes the need for pregnant women, when practicing it, to take into account some positions or postures, as well as the intensity and frequency of exercise. “Above all, that her practice is guided by professionals with experience in pregnancy. It must be taken into account that doing yoga, like any other exercise during this stage, must be adapted to each of the pregnant women, taking into account both their physical condition and their pregnancy, due to the risks associated with their own condition as a pregnant woman. , how he is or the situation of the baby ”, he specifies. Because, as Dr. Suy argues, “not all pregnancies are low risk, as there are high risk ones, either due to diseases of the mother or the baby. Therefore, each of the pregnant women should ask her obstetrician or gynecologist or the midwife if she can perform this exercise ”.

If the specialist gives his approval, Villasevil recommends practicing “one or two weekly sessions of approximately one hour, which must be adapted to the evolution of the pregnancy and how the pregnant woman herself is in each trimester.”

Four pregnant women practice yoga.
Four pregnant women practice yoga. Getty

To have a good pregnancy, as well as to lead a healthy life at any time of our lives, it is good to practice physical exercise and also incorporate techniques that promote well-being, “such as implementing a healthy diet, participating in groups for pregnant women, avoiding isolation during pregnancy. And yoga is still a technique that promotes relaxation, although in itself it is not considered a cardiovascular physical activity. So it would be one of the practices that they can do during pregnancy, although there would be other exercises that, in some cases, would be equally recommended”, explains Suy.

In reference to the data included in the study on the possibility that the practice of yoga during pregnancy reduces labor in two hours, Villasevil treats it with caution. “The article tells us that the reduction in the duration of labor was achieved by including studies with a high risk of being biased. And once those studies were removed, there would be no difference in the length of labor. To be able to affirm more forcefully that yoga shortens labor, studies with a larger number of patients and a better design that avoid bias would be necessary. Therefore, no such clear evidence is currently available in relation to this point.”

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