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A positive affirmation throughout pregnancy and labour is essential, and yoga helps teach this as a lifestyle.
Yoga is a scientific art that unites the body, mind and soul and brings about oneness with God. It dates back to the Vedic era, wherein women of royal families practised Yoga to cultivate physical attractiveness and graceful movement. It enhanced beauty by bringing about a correct posture and peace to the mind. Yoga has an additional advantage. It is a unique exercise form which a lady can continue to practice from youth, through pregnancy, childbirth and throughout old age. The modern world has been able to identify the blessings of Prenatal Yoga.
To bear a child is, undeniably, the ultimate dream of most married women. However, it does bring along fear and anxiety. There are apprehensions about labour pains, childbirth, and the responsibility of rearing the child. Pregnancy is a spectrum of physical, psychological and emotional experiences, and Yoga reflects positive health on both the mother and the developing fetus, imparting the required strength and confidence. Asanas have been identified by learned Yogis of India and the West.
American Pregnancy Association
- American Pregnancy Association has also endorsed the benefits of Yoga as a means to increase the strength and flexibility of the spine and the role of breathing and relaxation techniques to facilitate the labour process. It is advisable to practice Yoga under a trained prenatal and birth educator who can supervise, assist and guide about the correct techniques and postures.
- Yoga helps prevent and cure many chronic ailments by building immunity, inner strength and control over the body and mind. It corrects posture and works wonders in managing stress. It relieves nausea and vomiting and helps manage mood swings, common concerns in the first trimester. The strengthening of the abdomen helps to stimulate bowel action and appetite.
On One Side
Yoga helps to raise the energy level, while on the other; it helps slow down the metabolism to restore calm and focus. This aids in good weight gain and the development of a healthy fetus. It relieves oedema and cramping in the last trimester and facilitates delivery by opening the birth canal, ensuring faster and quicker birth. Women who practice yoga during pregnancy often do not perceive pain or discomfort during labour, which helps them restore and tone their musculature more quickly in the postnatal period. A coordinated mind and body aids better breastfeeding and prevents postpartum blues, improving one's happiness quotient.
Dr Ritambhara Bhalla, Associate Director, Department of Gynecology and Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chandigarh, explains how yoga amalgamates asana, pranayama and meditation.
- ASANA: The asanas are specific body poses designed to improve awareness and muscular flexibility. When these are performed with a breathing technique, they open the energy channels, thus harmonizing the functions of the body, breath and mind. Some of the essential asanas to be performed during pregnancy are Marjariasana(cat stretch), Konasana I, Konasana II, Virabhadrasana (warrior pose) and Trikonasana(Triangle pose).
- PRANAYAMA: Pranayama is a disciplined practice of breathing regulated by consciousness. It brings tranquillity, relaxation and a feeling of well-being, enhancing emotional stability and eliminating anxiety and fears. This is beneficial throughout pregnancy and should be incorporated into the daily routine. When performed correctly, Pranayama techniques help cure insomnia and high blood pressure.
- MEDITATION: When our mind is completely controlled and remains effortlessly focused, it is called meditation. This is a gradual process that needs practice. One can start by focusing on one's breath and ignoring the unnecessary thoughts that might float in the mind during this process. Regular meditation practice for five to ten minutes, preferably in the morning, will induce a deep sense of rejuvenation and relaxation.
Yoga restores balance at all levels, i.e. physical, mental, emotional and intellectual. It provides a complete answer to the challenges of stress. It also ensures the baby's healthy growth. A positive affirmation throughout pregnancy and labour is essential, and yoga helps teach this as a lifestyle.
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