In order to answer this question, it is important to explain, what the word “yoga” means!
Yoga means union, specifically, the union of the mind and the body through the breath. It is this mind-body-breath connection that is unique to yoga. The result of this connection is that yoga improves all the aspects of your wellbeing: the physical, the mental and the emotional. In other words, yoga is a holistic approach to your wellbeing.
A one stop shop – so to speak – where all the areas of your wellbeing are tended to at once.
I have spoken about the physical benefits in a previous article. In summary, yoga in pregnancy strengthens the body. In particular, it strengthens the parts of the body that you use to give birth. It reduces aches and pains associated with pregnancy. It also helps with maintaining proper posture which is continuously being challenged as the bump grows.
As for your mental wellbeing, it is improved through (1) meditation, (2) by maintaining focus in postures and (3) the postures themselves.
- Brain scanning studies have shown that through meditation, the decision making part of the brain – the pre frontal cortex – strengthens and the “knee jerk” reactive part of the brain – the reptilian brain – quiets down.
- Trying to focus on maintaining your balance and stability in a pose such as tree, for example, does not allow the mind to focus on much else. As a result, the mind is cleared of thoughts and given space from everyday mental chatter.
- Some yoga postures – for example, those that twist the body – balance the nervous system thereby helping to reduce the effects of stress.
Lastly, let’s look at the emotional aspect of your wellbeing.
The breathing practices in pregnancy yoga slow down and extend the exhalation. It is this slow extended exhalation that switches off the autonomic nervous system – the fight flight freeze response – and switches on the parasympathetic nervous system – the rest and digest response. This change in setting is an indispensable tool when giving birth. The breathing techniques are practiced in class and can be used while giving birth to reduce pain or at any time when you feel overwhelmed or stressed.
In conclusion, what does yoga in pregnancy do for you that other types of exercise cannot?
Yoga addresses issues that are specific to pregnancy in a gentle but effective way and, more importantly, it improves your overall wellbeing. Namaste.
This is a sponsored post by Libby Stevenson, Certified Pregnancy and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Yoga Alliance Registered. Instagram @mumaste_yoga_wellbeing