Yoga Therapy for Pregnancy

Pregnancy! This is one of the most special times in life. It can also be uncomfortable and anxiety inducing. Yoga therapy offers strategies to keep the worry and discomfort to a minimum so that you can stay in your body and in the moment. 

The list of things to do (and not do) in pregnancy is long, simply keeping track of everything can push someone into a state of constant worry.  On top of that, women are bombarded with the consequences of doing something wrong or forgetting some crucial vitamin.  It can certainly feel like we can’t get it right.  Rather than simply adding another task to the to-do list of busy pregnant mothers, incorporating yoga therapy during pregnancy can help to better manage the new and changing stressors,  common medical concerns and improve birth outcomes.  

Stress and anxiety might creep in or flare up as soon as the test shows two lines.  Then, as birth grows nearer, fear and anxiety around every detail of birth can arise. As mothers, before and after birth, concern for the safety of our children is a component of how we keep them safe. We can embrace some of those feelings to ensure we are prepared and protecting them, but once those feelings reach out of a healthy zone, we need tools to manage them.  Studies have shown yoga practices like gentle asana, guided pranayama and meditation reduce mothers reactivity to stressors in tests. These practices result in lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, and better heart rate variability compared to women without yoga interventions. Women who participate in the practices also report lower perceived stress levels and discomfort. 

Feeling more content in each day of pregnancy is a gift, but these benefits also carryover into birth. An important study this year (2023) found that participants in twice-weekly, hour-long yoga and meditation practice for ten weeks had a greater percentage of vaginal births with fewer medical interventions, including episiotomy. These women reported greater feelings of self-efficacy and decreased fear perception in delivery.

The practices learned during pregnancy can be used with or without guidance after birth with great effect. Mothers who practice for short periods with minimal movement and a heavy emphasis on meditation and pranayama were found to produce more breastmilk and report less stress and anxiety. For women who are suffering from post-partum depression, finding a yoga therapist to guide them can see symptoms of depression, anxiety and quality of life improve at a significantly faster rate. 

Pregnancy and motherhood bring about some of the greatest joys anyone can experience.  Being present to hold onto those feelings and memories is made easier by learning skills to manage the inevitable stress that comes along with having children.  Using yoga practices is proving to help us be more fulfilled women and mothers.