When pregnant we have to make sure that we lead an active way of life in order to stay healthy and fit, and have a nice and healthy delivery. But we also have to make sure that we are choosing the right type of exercise: effective and energetic, yet safe and adequate.
Yoga and Pilates are the two practices that are always a right choice. They are both strong in their nature, but gentle at the same time. Also, they both meet the needs of every pregnant goddess by keeping the muscles toned and fit (especially the muscles that are closely related to childbirth), opening the pelvis and stretching the joints and ligaments, and easing common issues that accompany every pregnancy such as fatigue, aches, pains, cramps, vitality, anxiety and emotional wellness. Let’s see what makes Yoga and Pilates such good prenatal friends.
Yoga assures you an overall wellbeing during the pregnancy. It works equally on a physical, spiritual, mental and emotional level. In that sense Yoga is a universal cure.
When it comes to our physical state Yoga helps us develop stamina and strength. As the baby grows within our body, we need more energy and strength to carry the heavy weight. The Yoga asanas strengthen our hips, back, arms and shoulders, which are also much needed later when we have to give birth and look after the newborn.
The more our baby grows, the more our body changes and more problematic areas occur. They are usually back (upper and lower), hips, chest, neck and shoulders. Yoga is what effectively relieves any unwanted pain and tension in those areas. Yoga also increases our blood circulation, creating a healthy environment for a thriving, healthy baby.
Yoga, and more precisely pranayama, calms the nervous system. When practicing a deep breathing the nervous system goes into parasympathetic mode. When in that mode, we reach a level on sweet relaxation: our digestions and immune system operate properly, we tend to sleep better and our inner peace stays intact.
When practicing pranayama our blood pressure and heart rate are regulated, keeping us calm and more in control of our own body and mind. This is why pranayama is our best friend when the labor time comes. Yoga teaches us to breath consciously and deeply. When in labor this breath-work habit helps us deal with the pain in a more comfortable way.
On a spiritual, mental and emotional level, Yoga balances our hormones, especially the progesterone and estrogen levels, and in that sense makes us control our mood swings and emotional misbalances.
Yoga helps us connect with our baby too. It teaches us to slow down and live with awareness to what is going on outside and inside us. We learn how to focus on what’s essential and enjoy each and every part of the pregnancy process.
Yoga is also a great way to meet other moms-to-be and be part of a community of women who understand what you are going through and can support you.
Pilates is a strictly physical practice and focuses more on your physical state, rather than on your spiritual or mental wellbeing. It promises toned muscles, better balance, strength and coordination. It is also a great way to keep your weight on track and stay fit during the pregnancy.
One of the major misconceptions is that women are not allowed to work their abdominals during pregnancy. The truth is that they are not only allowed to, but they are advised to use their core more in order to prepare it for a healthy delivery and a faster and more efficient recovery and return to pre-pregnancy body. However, what’s essential is how we use our abs during pregnancy. Prenatal Pilates focuses a lot on the core and tones the abdominals, but in a safe, reasonable way. You work with the Transverse Abdominis and not with the Rectus (the six-pack muscles). So in that sense Pilates prepared your core muscles for labor. It also prepares your pelvis for the big moment, by keeping your pelvic floor muscles tones and strong, yet flexible.
If Yoga and Pilates are to be compared thoroughly, we would have to say that yoga focuses more on our overall health and wellbeing, including our emotional, mental and spiritual health, while Pilates mainly targets our physical health. Now if we combine the two we would get the ideal practice. Fortunately, such a magical combination already exists and it’s called Yogalates. Being the perfect mixture between the spiritual and the physical, Yogalates offers it all: strong and tones body, and calm and focused mind. But be aware that Yogalates is a strong practice and it requires a previous experience and regular working-out routine.
It's important that you go through all these pros and cons a few times, think about the problem areas and essential needs of your pregnancy, and choose the right practice for you accordingly. Whether it be Yoga, Pilates or Yogalates, remember to always listen to your body, practice with compassion, tenderness and awareness for yourself and your baby, and do what feels right to you. Nothing is more intelligent or precise than our own consciousness.
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Just a gentle reminder that 2 Health App offers amazing prenatal Yoga and Yogalates practices. Download it today and subscribe to our YouTube channel where you could find prenatal videos too. Let us help you have the healthiest, most balanced and happy pregnancy!