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Prenatal Yoga: Learning the Lessons of Yoga in the Womb

Leta Koontz-Stuyvesant

Yoga has increased in popularity in recent years. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve sleep and digestion, strengthen muscles and joints,and increase flexibility. Yoga removes impurities from the body through the breath, sweat, liver, kidneys, and digestive system. People who practice yoga regularly report that they feel less stress and more peace in their lives.

Pregnant woman can gain even additional benefits from practicing yoga: relief from back pain and nausea, and increased stamina. Yoga is a low-impact exercise that can help expectant moms to stay in shape. And the breathing meditations practiced in a yoga class may come in handy during labor!

Great changes take place in the human body during pregnancy. Practicing yoga is a great way to slow down and appreciate these changes. Yoga encourages you to be in the moment - to be fully present. It encourages you to listen to your body, to accept it as it is, and to surrender to its sometimes uncomfortable changes. Through gentle stretches and simple strength-building postures, you can improve your physical health. Through meditation, you can reduce anxiety and self-critical thinking, thereby improving your mental health!

If you are interested in practicing yoga during your pregnancy, be aware that certain postures should be avoided (such as those that involve laying on the back or belly). Get a video or book that is specifically designed for expectant mothers or attend a prenatal yoga class. These videos, books, and classes will cover postures that help to reduce back pain, swelling in the lower extremities, and misalignments due to weight changes. Many postures (for example, squats) are useful preparations for natural childbirth. During pregnancy, hormones cause joints in the body to become loose (that's why women often increase in shoe size). Yoga postures can help to stabilize and strengthen these joints and promote flexibility in the muscles and fascia.

The food that you eat, the oxygen that you breathe, and your state of mind are all transmitted to your baby. The stress you feel is the stress your baby feels. Yoga has developed over thousands of years to help practitioners obtain optimal physical health and a relaxed and peaceful state of mind.

The word yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning yoke or connection. Yoga connects your body, mind, and spirit. Yoga can connect you to your baby, too! The practice of yoga gives you the opportunity to create a world (your body) for your baby that is healthy and at peace.

Remember the words of Yogi Bhajan: "What a child learns in the womb cannot be learned on earth."

Leta Koontz-Stuyvesant has been studying yoga since 1998. Her first instructor was Lori Brungard. In 1999, a trip to India focused her interest in Ashtanga yoga. She teaches at Schoolhouse Yoga in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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