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Yoga is a discipline thought to benefit every aspect of wellbeing. It is practised as a unique series of postures known as asanas, in conjunction with breathing exercises to help calm the mind and improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the organs.

Yoga is a discipline thought to benefit every aspect of wellbeing. It is practised as a unique series of postures known as asanas, in conjunction with breathing exercises to help calm the mind and improve the flow of blood and oxygen to the organs. Although early writings suggest yoga practice was most commonly a male tradition, since its revival in the 1960s, it has been incorporated into many western mainstream health regimes and practised by women worldwide.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is considered a relaxing, safe and effective form of exercise during pregnancy and childbirth. In a physical sense it realigns the body, tones and strengthens the muscles, relieves tension and promotes circulation and co-ordination, increasing vitality and flexibility.

Hormonal Balance

Yoga is valuable in encouraging hormonal balance, lowering blood pressure, easing digestion and relieving constipation. Specific postures help tone the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for childbirth. Many women find yoga a meditative and deeply spiritual practice promoting stillness of mind and increasing a sense of focus. Because breathing is an integral part of yoga discipline, regular practice builds stamina and enhances the ability to concentrate and therefore manage pain during labour and childbirth.

Active Birth

Janet Balaskas, a pioneer in Active Birthing, incorporates yoga in her philosophy, believing it provides the key to a comfortable and healthy pregnancy, labour and childbirth.
In a psychological sense, many women consider yoga a most empowering way to prepare for labour, childbirth and becoming a parent.


Yoga is generally safe, however, it is essential that you learn the postures correctly. As your ligaments soften during pregnancy, it is important that you do not over-stretch. It is also important to avoid deep twists, poses on your belly and deep backbends. After the fourth month, do not lie flat on your back as this can decrease blood flow to the uterus. Avoid full squats and forward bends if you are suffering from piles. Remember to take slow, deep breaths while maintaining yoga poses.

A Session

There are many different variations of yoga practice. Ashtanga tends to be strenuous therefore it may be preferable to try a more meditative and gentle based practice such as Hatha especially if you are a novice. Choose pre-natal class as some postures included in general yoga classes are unsuitable during pregnancy. It is usual to find initial classes or sessions more challenging as your flexibility may be limited but this resistance will ease as you continue to practise. Once you have attended a few classes, the following postures may be practised at home.


This pose will help to relieve backache by strengthening your spine and reducing abdominal heaviness.

  1. Sit with your back against a wall for extra support.
  2. With the soles of your feet placed together, relax your knees to each side. If you feel your back rounding you may want to sit on the edge of a flat cushion or folded blanket.
  3. Make sure your spine is straight and that you are resting on your sitting bones by pulling the fleshy skin of your buttocks back and away from underneath you.
  4. Rest your hands gently on your thighs with your palms relaxed and upturned and breathe slowly and deeply.

Make sure your spine remains straight.


This pose is a development of the last one and will help stretch your hips and groin muscles.

  1. Sit as for the last pose with your tailbone tucked underneath you and your knees dropped open to each side.
  2. Hold your feet, your hands cupped around but not pulling.
  3. Press your feet together and let your knees continue to fall open.
  4. Lean forward slightly to increase the stretch and hold, relaxed here for 5 to 8 complete breaths.

Child’s Pose

This pose is perfect for loosening the hips and lower back muscles. It is also a great pose to aid relaxation and meditation.

  1. Get down on all fours.
  2. Keeping your toes together and your knees wide apart gently lower yourself letting your hips rest back towards your heels.
  3. Bend your elbows and let your head rest on your hands – you may find a pillow more comfortable.
  4. Relax and let your lower back muscles release.
  5. Hold for 3 to 5 complete breaths.

Loosens the hips and lower back muscles.


Squatting helps strengthen your legs and relaxes the pelvic floor muscles.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes slightly pointing outwards and your hands on your hips.
  2. Bend your knees until they are almost 90 degrees.
  3. Place your elbows on the inside of your thighs keeping your feet flat on the floor and your palms together.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
  5. Straighten your legs.
  6. Then rest and lower one more time into the squat position, this time lowering your hips further towards the floor. If your heels lift put a blanket under them so your buttocks are resting on your heels.
  7. Hold for thirty seconds building to a minute.
  8. It is a good idea to release from this posture into the child’s pose by placing your knees on the floor and resting with your head down.

Helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and legs.

Cat/Dog Tilt

This posture helps to maintain a relaxed spine and synchronise your breath and movement.

  1. Kneel on the floor on all fours so that your shoulders are directly over your wrists, your arms straight with your knees a little more than hip-width apart.
  2. Relax your feet so that the tops are along the floor and the toes are pointing backwards.
  3. Inhale and slowly draw your tailbone up and behind you, roll your shoulders back and look up.
  4. Slowly exhale, pressing your hands into the floor, drawing your chin into your chest and curving your spine upwards.
  5. Repeat 4 to 6 times.

Helps maintain a relaxed spine…


and synchronises breath and movement.

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