Yoga, Mommy's best friend
Pregnancy and motherhood are both beautiful and frightening. It comes as no surprise that one of the most relaxing exercises may be the thing to help you manage the overwhelming emotions.
Yoga instructor Malika Omawale explains that yoga is very helpful during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. With the exception of a few poses, yoga is safe during pregnancy. Yoga is known for its benefits of keeping one grounded. It relieves stress, anxiety and depression, all of which are common during pregnancy.
YOGA AND DELIVERY
This is something that was personally beneficial to Omawale. As new mother, her delivery is something that is still fresh in her mind. She remembers vividly how yoga had helped her.
"Wow, it really got me through delivery well. I am told I had a smile on my face while birthing my daughter. I used hypnobirthing breathing techniques during labour and delivery - which were easy to learn due to my years of yoga practice," she told Flair.
She admitted that she had a head start in learning breathing technique due to her professional and personal background. She mentioned that in the moment she felt all her years of practice kick in helping her to keep calm.
Omawale sings the praises of her prenatal yoga teacher Khara Perkins at Yoga Angels, whom she knew made the experience better for her due to her lessons.
However, yoga also has its physical impacts as it does mentally. She notes that it prepares the body for the demands of labour and delivery by opening the hips and safely strengthening the muscles that are key in childbirth. It builds bridges allowing for mind and body awareness for those that practise regularly.
"When paired with walking, yoga is perhaps the best way for a pregnant woman to stay in shape. If attending classes during pregnancy, it can help to create a sense of community and be very reassuring for the expectant mom. The prenatal yoga classes I attended gave me a sense of community and support as I connected with other pregnant women and my teacher, who is a very experienced mother of four," she told Flair.
NOT YOUR EVERYDAY YOGA
Approaching yoga while pregnant is a bit different from your everyday yoga, thus it is best to do it with an instructor. Omawale mentions that one should avoid any pose that involves deep stretching of the abdominal muscles - like upward dog. Any pose that requires lying flat on one's back should be avoided after the first trimester due to pressure on the vena cava. You will also be required to modify some poses to accommodate the growing stomach. Be as conservative as possible to ensure that you are not overstretching your ligaments. During pregnancy there are hormones that loosen the ligaments to prepare the body for birth, thus it is important that you are conscious of this and not injure yourself.
"Use of props such as blocks, bolsters and blankets is essential to a safe practice as they provide stability and cushion the belly," Omawale added.
Post natal yoga is also great for women mentally. For those who are predisposed to depression, or struggling with depression this helps to bring a balance to the mind and body. As prenatal yoga assists with preparing the mind and body for delivery, postnatal assists with everything else.
CLEARED AFTER CHECK-UP
However, one should wait at least until one has been cleared after the six-week check-up. Omawale mentions that meditation and breathwork can be started immediately.
"Generally, after getting cleared in the six-week obstetrician or gynaecologist visit and when the lochia (postpartum bleeding) has stopped is a good time to begin practising the physical postures again. Returning to a pre-pregnancy yoga practice will take time as the body needs to fully heal and hormone levels have to return to their pre-pregnancy levels. This could be anywhere from six weeks to a year, or more for some. The great thing is that yoga teaches us to be patient and accepting of what is now," Omawale concluded.
Malika Omawale is a certified health coach and yoga instructor. She will be teaching a community yoga class for the Jamaica Yoga Association on May 13 at Hope Gardens Bandstand 7-8:15 a.m. and will be offering a breathwork and wellness workshop 9-10:15 a.m. at the Kingston Yoga Festival on June 24 at the Spanish Court Hotel.
Malika Omawale, MA, RYT 200
International Yoga Dance and Wellness Programswww.omwellnessrhythms.com