Yoga for Pregnant Ladies
Pre Natal Yoga
Pregnancy is a special time for a woman and her family. It is a time of many changes – in pregnant woman’s body, in her emotions, and in the life of her family. These changes (as welcome as they may be) often add new stresses to the lives of busy pregnant women, who already faces many demands at home and at work.
Stress, does not have to be all bad. When managed properly, stress can provide us with the drive to meet new challenges. A pregnant woman (or anyone else) who feels she is coping well with stress – feeing energized, rather than drained, and functioning well at home and work – probably does not face health risks from stress. However, when stress builds up to uncomfortable levels, it can be harmful for the pregnant woman and the fetus.
However, there are many short - term and long – term harmful effects of excessive stress. In the short – term effects, a high level of stress can cause fatigue, sleeplessness, anxiety, poor appetite or overeating, headaches and backaches. When high levels of stress continue for long periods, it can contribute to potentially serious health problems, such as lowered resistance to infectious diseases, high blood pressure and heart disease. Studies also suggest that high levels of stress may pose special risks during pregnancy. Emotionally demanding situations which are unique to pregnancy, may activate stress responses.
Pregnancy- related discomforts (Such as nausea, fatigue, frequent urination, swelling and backache) can be stressful, especially if a pregnant woman attempts to accomplish everything she did prior to pregnancy. A pregnant woman can help reduce her stress by recognizing that these symptoms are temporary and that there are ways to cope with them. She also can consider cutting back on unnecessary activities when she is uncomfortable.
How does yoga provide the answer to stress reduction in pregnancy ?
Yoga is defined as a tool for achieving positive health. Yoga practiced by pregnant women seems to reflect this positive health on the fetus in utero. Yoga brings about stress reduction and helps in reducing the occurrence of complications, through a balanced effective blood flow in the utero – placental circulation.
Reduction in stress reaction can be achieved through practice of deep relaxation at the body level by different postures slowing down of rate of berating through Pranayama, claiming down of mind in meditation and chatting. Chronic habituated reaction patterns of anxiety, depression, and exaggerated hypersensitive reactions to demanding situations are corrected by counseling to :
1. Change the basic notions about life, death, purpose of living (Jnana Yoga) etc.,
2. Improving interpersonal relationship to a level of mutual respect by understanding the basis of pure love (Bhakti Yoga)and
3. correct the pattern of tension – ridden working style to new style of working for the joy of contribution and learning (Karma Yoga). We shall go into greater details of these in the later chapters of this book.
What diet should a pregnant woman take ?
The pregnant woman is nourishing a dynamic life within her. Hence she should eat a balanced diet including all nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, micronutrients and anti-oxidants. If she was taking 60 to 0 grams of proteins before, now she must take 100 grams of protein, if she was taking 60 to 80 grams of fat before, now she must take 100 grams of protein, if she was taking 60 to 80 grams of fat before, now she must take 100grams of fat, similarly if she was taking 2500 calories daily she must now take 2500 – 3000 calories per day. Hence she needs more fat, more carbohydrates, more protein and more minerals & vitamins. She has to store energy to bear the pain and effort and strength needed during delivery. She must be prepared to feed her baby as soon as the child is born. Her milk must be rich to provide a complete food to the baby till the age of 4 months. The baby draws all the required nutrition from the mother, through her breast milk without any hesitation whether the mother is getting enough to eat nor not. This will make the mother weak if she doesn’t take adequate balanced diet. It is equally important that she should not over eat and become obese. Obesity in pregnancy due to excessive in take of rich food without enough physical activity to spend that energy, can lead to many complications during pregnancy and delivery.
1. Proteins – 4 kilo calories / gram
All Dhals – Bengal gram, green gram, Peas, Soya, Horse gram etc.
Green vegetables including Palak, etc..
Mil products like Cheese, Curds, Nuts.
2. Fate – 9 Kili calories/gram
Oil, Butter, Ghee, Oily Seeds, Nuts.
3. Carbohydrates – 4 kilo calories / gram
Rice, Wheat, Corn, Ragi, etc.
Potato, Sweet Potato, Root Vegetables
Jaggery, Suger, Honey, Milk
4. Micronutrients & Antioxidants – Minute Qty.
Calcium, Iron, Iodine, Copper, Cobalt, Sodium, Phosphorous, Potassium, Etc.
Vitamins – ABCDEK, etc.
Anti – oxidants like Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger.
For a balanced, healthy diet, all the above mentioned are essential in a certain proportion. Eating just carbohydrates, or just proteins to fill her stomach is not an ideal thing to do . It does not give proper nutrition either to the mother or to the growing fetus.
Hence, The pregnant woman must plan her diet and use different food items containing all the essential foods. Vitamins, minerals and anti – oxidants although in minute quantities, are necessary to ward off infections that they help in keeping the mother and the fetus healthy.
She also needs more calcium for her bones and teeth. If the pelvic bones become soft without calcium it leads to osteomalcia and causes serve difficult during labour. Burka women (those who cover their body with thick black cloth) suffer from this diseased and the child born to her will also have calcium and vitamin D deficiencies leading to skeletal deformities.
The mother to be should eat healthy, natural foods preferably untreated – and avoid food, which is overcooked or containing too much fat, sugar or seasoning.
Four groups of essential food substances in pregnancy.
1. Supply energy to the mother and the fetus.
2. Help in building and repairing tissues and organs
3. Protect the mother against infection and disease
4. Help the proper functioning of all the systems including that of the fetus.
These food substances should be pleasing and acceptable
Are the traditions diet recommendations of India relevant to pregnancy in modern times ?
The traditional faiths that abandon the use of some items of foods and recommend some other items seem to have been based on the state of health, environment and nutritional; background in India a few centuries ago. Many of these recommendations seem to centre around protecting the mother from exposure to
Yogic concept of balanced diet
Those diets which restore balance at all levels
Mental & Emotional
What does yoga recommend as a good diet for preventing problems in pregnancy ?
According to yoga moderation is the key – yoga lay emphasis on the effect of food and diet on mind. Accordingly all food have been classified into three major types ie., Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic foods.
Sattvic foods are those that make the mind Sattvic. Sattvic food makes the woman pure and happy, gives vitality and stamina to the body and promotes positive health. This includes simple vegetarian diet containing sufficient proportions of nutrients with minimal spices and fats. It should also be cooked fresh and served with a good heart. Here the concept of moderation in quantity and quality is very important.
Rasyah snighdhah sthira hudya aharah sttvikapriyah (Gita.17.8)
Those foods which increase the Ayuh (Life and vitality), Sattva (Purity), Bala (Strength/Stamina), Arogya (helaht), Sukha (happiness) and prithi (cheerfulness and good appetite) are termed Sattvika. These foods are Rasyah (savoury), Snigdhah (oleaginous), Sthira (Substantia), Hrdya (agreeable) and are liked by Sattvikas.
Find a quiet place for your yoga session, either out of doors or in a tidy, well ventilated room. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and place a mat or blanket on the floor to make yourself more comfortable. Avoid bright lights and distractions or interruptions.
The yoga practices consist of loosening exercises, breathing exercises, sitting postures, prone postures, supine postures and Pranayama. More emphasis is given on relaxation techniques like IRT (Instant Relaxation Technique), QRT (Quick Relaxation Technique), DRT (Deep Relaxation Technique); and also asanas and Mudras to strengthen the pelvic floor, which is the most important organ for a pregnant woman, Cautions and contra-indications at different trimesters during the practice must be followed.
All Pregnant Women should start their yoga asaas with Breathing Exercises, Neck Loosening Exercises to get prepared for further practices.
Special tips for breathing practices (for beginners)
i. First embasize the movement of hands, legs, abdominal or thoracic muscles as needed in each exercise. Correct the movements.
ii. Use ‘in’ and ‘out’ instructions of the mind (or that of teacher) for inhalation & exhalation. Emphasize on full breathing each time.
iii. Synchronise breathing with the corresponding movements.
iv. Initially the movements will be faster to cope with the higher breathing rate. As progress is made, the movements will get slower.
v. Close the eyes and repeat a few round retaining the awareness.
Yoga Practices in First Trimester
1. Hands in and out breathing
2. Tiger Breathing
3. Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT) etc...
Yoga Practices in Second Trimester
1. Micro exercise
3. Quick Relaxation Technique (QRE) etc...
Yoga Practices in Third Trimester
1. Meru Dhanadasana Breating
2. Ardhakati Chalesasana
3. Nadi Suddhi Pranayama. Etc...