sponsored by VCU Health
Worry is the Work of Pregnancy
~ Benefits of Yoga for Pregnant Women ~
By: J. Chevonte’ Alexander
Welcome to Urban Views Health News, case a bi-monthly article focusing on health, cialis specific health-related issues, fitness, fun and tips on how we can become healthier individually and as a community.
If you have taken a yoga class, you are very familiar with this word, but for those who have not, namaste is a respectful greeting.
In this week’s Urban Views Weekly Health News, we chat with Dr. Patricia Kinser, Assistant Professor at Virginia CommonwealthUniversity School of Nursing in the Department of Family and Community Health. Dr. Kinser is a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner and her research focuses on women’s mental health issues. She has always worked in free clinics for underserved populations and she notices an immense burden of stress and depression on women, particularly during pregnancy, coupled with socioeconomic and social stressors. These stressors have an effect physically and mentally on women. Pregnancy is a huge transition in a woman’s life and knowing how to deal with this transition can enhance health during and after pregnancy. Kinser suggests yoga as a possible way for pregnant women to build resilience and deal with a changing body and lifestyle.
“I became really interested in helping women that were having these chronic pains or depression symptoms,” comments Kinser. “A lot of women needed something that empowered them to engage in self-care versus prescribing a pill. What other options are there for women?”
As a certified yoga instructor, Kinser witnessed women using yoga to deal with stress from at home-life, work, divorce or just life period. “I put my two passions together and began research on how mind-body therapies like yoga can help pregnant women.”
Prenatal yoga, when taught by a trained instructor, is appropriate for anyone – even those who never practiced yoga before. Instructors teach a gentle form of yoga adapted to the expecting mothers’ changing bodies. Prenatal yoga is a great introduction to physical activity as well. It is a nice gentle way to start moving and be aware of what the body needs.
“Mind-body therapies like yoga encourage breathing, mindfulness and physical activity. Yoga is a tool in the toolbox and teaches us how to be resilient in the face of stressors in our lives. In yoga, we focus our breathing, and this can be done in real life as well. I can stop and take a breath if I am feeling stressed,” comments Kinser. “Yoga brings more centeredness and helps you to find what you need at that moment to be the best you can be.”
Yoga encourages one to pay closer attention to one’s body and emotional state. Yoga is moving, breathing and practicing techniques to help you physically and emotionally. There is no doubt about it – a woman’s brain is always racing…what to wear, what time to pick up your child, what time is this meeting, clean this or I am gaining weight – yoga addresses whatever that stressor may be. Yoga helps you focus on something else that can put your mind and body at ease. This is why prenatal yoga is so good for expectant mothers.
Now that you have had the baby, what about continuing with yoga?
Postpartum depression is, unfortunately, quite common. The new family structure and dynamic, the role of motherhood, and continuing changes in the body can continue to be stressors in a woman’s life. Yoga and other mindfulness practices, whether or not one has depression, may help to builds one’s capacity for self-management of stress and related symptoms. Again, yoga is a tool in our toolbox we can draw upon to help us deal with internal and external stress.
During postpartum, Kinser suggests mom and baby yoga classes because it is great to build support and relationships outside the home with women experiencing similar lifestyle changes.
“For women who practiced prenatal yoga, we see them engaged in more self-management of their health and intrinsic motivation to engage in physical activity. They bring this into the postpartum period as well.” comments Kinser.
Kinser also stresses that it is important to note that research suggests that physical activity, even gentle, can have a profound positive effect on one’s body during this transformative time.
Although research is new in this field, studies are beginning to suggest that there are multiple benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy. For example, studies show that yoga may be helpful for:
- enhancing sense of well-being
- decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms
- building flexibility, strength, and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
- improving symptoms for patients with asthma and hypertension
- decreasing ligament and joint pains
- building a sense of community with other expectant mothers
- increasing a sense of connection with the baby
For more information about research on yoga, in general, see the National Institute of Health’s website about Yoga for Health, https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm.
So, if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, prenatal yoga is the way to go to strengthen, center, and calm your mind and body.