Summary: Pregnancy is a beautiful phase of life. Prenatal yoga helps you prepare for your pregnancy and childbirth, while ensuring that your body, mind and soul remain strong and healthy. It helps you have an easier delivery.
“Yoga means addition – addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul.” ― Amit Ray
One of the most commonly asked question by pregnant women is whether they can even do yoga or attend a yoga retreat in their pregnancy. I say, go for it! When you are adding a beautiful new life to this world, it is important to keep yourself healthy. Your mind and body need some stimulation and yoga is perfect for it. Throughout both of my pregnancies I did not miss a single day of yoga. I even attended prenatal yoga classes and yoga retreats, kept up with others, and enjoyed every single day of my pregnancy till my baby’s birth.
My Pregnancy and Yoga Experience
My first pregnancy was a little more difficult than the second. Being the first, I was a little extra careful as well. I attended a lovely prenatal yoga retreat and found it to be an excellent learning experience. Not only did I learn about which asanas to do and which to avoid during pregnancy, I also felt fit, healthy and stronger. I was hooked on it and went for a few more prenatal retreats and classes afterwards. While I had an issue with nausea throughout my first pregnancy, eventually I did have a healthy happy baby via normal delivery.
The best thing that came out of the retreat is that I made friends with a number of mommies to be. All our kids being around the same age, not only did we share our pregnancy journeys; our little ones now also enjoy playdates. It is an exciting experience sharing our landmark moments, our challenges and difficulties, and motherhood together with my retreat friends.
Prenatal Yoga 2 with Liza Janda
When I was pregnant with my second, I was a little more seasoned in pregnancy as well as more experienced in yoga in general. This time I chose to attend regular retreats as well and I was happy to be able to keep up with other participants. The retreats were informed of my situation in advance and they did give me a free pass to get out if I felt any discomfort, but I did not need to. I completed two 90-minute sessions like everyone else. When it came to exercises, which were contraindicated in pregnancy, I sat them out. They arranged for extra pillows, props and supports to make the journey absolutely smooth.
I Felt Better About My Body and Myself
During all the yoga retreats I have attended during my pregnancies, I have always felt nothing but better about my body and myself. I learned to stop being conscious about the weight gain, and instead to love my body in every step of the journey. Attending yoga retreats during pregnancy comes with a number of amazing benefits.
Ensuring Maternal Health
Maternal health is extremely important and this is something we mothers tend to forget. We fuss over fetal health so much that we forget our own health. The health and well-being of the baby totally depends on how well the mother eats, and takes care of herself throughout the pregnancy. Making yoga a regular part of your pregnancy helps women stay fitter and gain less unnecessary weight. It is extremely important to stay fit as it ca reduce the risks of a number of diseases such as complications from gestational diabetes, hypertension, and complications from stress on the body which can come with supporting the growth of a little human being. Attending prenatal yoga retreats is a great learning opportunity. It instructs you on poses, asanas and exercises that are good for pregnancy and those, which must be avoided. They also help you improvise and modify your yoga routine to suit your pregnancy needs.
My first trimester with my first baby kicked off to a rocky start with quite a bit of nausea. As I result all I did was lie around and it caused quite a bit of weight gain. You feel as though you have the flu and are compelled to lie down and rest thinking you’ll feel better soon. But it’s usually only the progression of the pregnancy and hormones adjusting that makes you feel better! The weight gain is what led me to attend a yoga retreat in the first place, when the nausea was a bit lower with the start of second trimester. But with baby number two, I started my prenatal yoga right from the beginning and I was surprised with how little weight I had gained in this pregnancy. Moreover, I felt fitter.
Better Mental Health
Pregnancy brings forth a number of changes in the body and its hormones, which often affect women’s mental health adversely. Most women experience some amounts of weight gain and not soon enough does the bump start to show. This weight gain can give rise to a gnawing sense of insecurity, which makes moms feel self-conscious and inhibited in different ways. A happy mommy means a healthy baby. So it is extremely important to take care of your mental health during pregnancy.
Moreover, with the progress of pregnancy, there are several hormonal changes which cause mood swings, frustration, insecurity that add on to the issue of weight gain, making women feel miserable about themselves. For awhile most women feel they just look fat and not pregnant yet. Attending a yoga retreat helps improve mental health during pregnancy. There are multiple exercises, which are aimed to soothe both body and mind. Moreover they regulate the flow of endorphins that improve the mood and make people happier.
A number of retreats also offer meditation sessions, which encourages the participants to turn inward, turn to a higher power and try to seek the solutions to their problems. It helps untangle the web of things that are going on in the mind to reduce the negative thoughts. They also offer sessions and talks, which help one understand herself better, as well as be happier in everyone’s unique scenario.
I had mad mood swings in my first pregnancy, which caused me to oscillate between yelling at everyone I saw to bawling my eyes out. Getting out of the house to attend a retreat gave me a sense of mental stability. My parents and my partner could see a stark difference in my moods. I felt more at peace and my mood swings were visibly lower in my second pregnancy.
The biggest benefit of attending a prenatal yoga retreat during pregnancy is that it helps you have a healthier and better pregnancy. Keeping active ensures that you do not gain a lot of unhealthy weight, but above all, they offer programs, which are designed to ensure a healthier pregnancy, for both mother and baby. These also improve the fetal health, its growth and aids the mother in trying to have a normal delivery.
There are several asanas, which are specifically designed to make pregnancy a little easier by reducing pain, nausea and other such discomforts. These also help strengthen the pelvic floor, which helps a woman during delivery. Moreover, there are certain exercises, which help ensure that the baby is in a proper position for a normal birth, thereby reducing chances of C-section. Regular yoga strengthens the muscles, which help push the baby out during labor, thus lowering the risks of tearing during delivery.
Often pregnancy comes with a number of health issues due to hormonal changes. Yoga asanas and pranayamas are designed to help regulate and balance the hormonal changes, increasing mothers’ ability to adjust and not be negatively affected by the constant changes happening in her body.
Body Positive Environment
Pregnancy causes a number of changes in a woman’s body. There is always a little bit of healthy weight gain, along with the baby bump, which can be quite restrictive with the progression of the pregnancy. That big belly can get in the way! Simple acts, like bending down to tie your shoelaces, shaving legs etc become if not impossible, challenging to say the least. Some women also experience swollen feet and fingers, stretch marks, and often hair loss, acne, hyper-pigmentation, and more. These changes give rise to insecurity.
With my first pregnancy I was constantly insecure that my partner would leave me and no one would ever love me because I was a big fat mess. I was a complete sobbing mess. My first retreat helped me fall in love with my shape. As I met stunning women in every shape and size, confident about their bodies, farther in their along in their pregnancies, I felt more assured of myself in their positive company.
Prenatal yoga and yoga retreats offer a better understanding of the pregnant body and how these changes occur in your body simply to facilitate the growth and development of the baby. There are several sessions on acceptance and gratitude, which helps an expectant mother embrace her new shape, connect better with her baby and be happier for everything she has in life. You also get to interact with other women who are in different places in their pregnancy and share a bond of motherhood, motivating one another and cultivating friendships.
Being in a community of other pregnant women or even other yoga enthusiasts in a healthy positive environment does wonders for body image issues.
Knowingly or unknowingly we are consuming a lot of unhealthy food and chemicals. With raging pregnancy hormones, cravings make it worse. This means you can lose the battle with cravings and end up eating a lot of junk food. As I said earlier, the health of the baby is wholly dependent on how well the pregnant mother eats, exercises, and reduces stress in her life. Yoga retreats encourage a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.
At a retreat you are served a balanced diet of nutritious healthy meals, which are prepared from healthy organic ingredients. As the nutritional needs of the body are met from an array of healthy foods, your cravings for unhealthy food reduce. Prenatal yoga retreats and programs curate meal plans keeping in mind the special needs and restrictions for pregnant women. You can simply carry on with the same diet plan back home as well.
Most retreats follow a fixed schedule, which is based on the circadian rhythm of the body. With the removal of distractions of our everyday life, it helps you regulate your body clock and sleep better. This also alleviates insomnia, which is common among pregnant women. This improvement in lifestyle goes a long way in ensuring better health for both mother and baby. If you can continue the routine after the retreat at home, you will see how much of a difference it makes.
Much Needed Break
Before you get into the madness that parenting is, attending a yoga retreat is a great opportunity for a much-needed break. Pregnancy and anticipation of motherhood can be an overwhelming experience, especially for first time mothers. You manage to get out of your house, let your hair down and relax a bit before the baby comes.
This way you can give all the stress of childbirth classes, doctor’s appointments, shopping for the perfect crib, buying the safest car seat, decorating the nursery, birth plans and everything else a break and make a little time for yourself first. Catch up on your sleep, relax, laugh, communicate with others, make friends, and enjoy the beauty of nature before you get caught in the whirlwinds of dealing with a new baby. This me-time is of great importance as you prepare for your new phase of life.
Quicker Postpartum Healing
Your journey does not end with the birth of the baby, but instead it continues into motherhood. But before you get into that, postpartum is a major phase, which brings forth new changes you did not exactly anticipate. This is an important thing that a prenatal yoga retreat prepares you for.
Often women undergo postpartum depression (1 in 4 women experience postpartum anxiety or depression); a feeling of lost purpose, insecurity as suddenly all the attention shifts to the baby, leaving the mother feeling lonely. This is the phase where you need a lot of help with self-care, which your stay at the retreat will help you with. Moreover, all the exercise and healthy lifestyle improves immunity and helps the body heal faster after childbirth.
Being fit during pregnancy helps moms recover faster from whatever kind of birth they experienced. It also helps you shed pregnancy weight quicker as you had gained lesser in the first place. My stay at the retreats taught me gratitude, which overwhelmed me with a flood of happiness the moment I held my babies in my arms. I also learned to communicate my needs better and spoke up when I needed some extra care.
Thus, to summarize…
Attending a yoga retreat during pregnancy is not only possible, but also a great idea. It improves your physical and mental health and prepares you for the next phase of life.
After suffering from ‘Emotional Eating Disorder’ for many years, Almy took up the courage to fight it and beat it. Yoga becomes her weapon to fight with this deadly disorder and in no time, she helped herself out of it. Ever since, she has been continuing with her practice of yoga and hopes to inspire others by spreading the goodness of yoga across the world. She is blogging at Retreat Kula. https://retreatkula.com/