Should I Try Prenatal Yoga?
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO... PRENATAL YOGA
What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?
Prenatal yoga is a form of exercise that often combines stretching, strengthening, relaxation, attention to body awareness and posture, and focused breathing. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is a safe form of exercise during any stage of pregnancy and can result in improved sleep, reduced stress and anxiety, increased strength, flexibility, and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth, decreased lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches.
What occurs during a typical prenatal yoga class?
A prenatal yoga class may include gentle stretching, muscle strengthening, practicing yoga postures and learning safe modifications, focus on body awareness to support healthy posture at all stages of pregnancy, relaxation techniques, as well as breath work that may reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy, calm the nervous system, and work through contractions during labor.
Are there special safety guidelines or contraindications for prenatal yoga?
Before you begin a prenatal yoga program, make sure to speak with your OB/GYN. You may not be able to do prenatal yoga if you have a history of high blood pressure, miscarriage, back pain, joint pain, preterm labor, placenta previa or premature rupture of membranes. Make sure to set realistic goals, pace yourself, stay hydrated, and avoid certain postures.
Are there certain yoga poses that should be avoided during pregnancy?
An experienced yoga instructor will be able to guide you to practicing yoga safely. However, you may consider avoiding certain positions such as lying on your belly or back, deep forward or backward bends, or twisting poses that put additional pressure on your abdomen. Avoid inverted poses, which involve extending your legs above your heart or head. As your pregnancy progresses, use props during postures to accommodate changes in your center of gravity and ask for assistance.
How do I choose a prenatal yoga class?
If you're interested in taking a prenatal yoga class, look for a class taught by an instructor who has training in prenatal yoga. Consider observing a class ahead of time to make sure you're comfortable with the class sequence, the instructor's style, the class size, and the class environment. Ask for a referral from your OB/GYN, midwife, or another yoga student.
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.
She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women's health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.