It doesn’t matter if one is pregnant with their first or third child, a mother still needs support, guidance, renewal, and rejuvenation every day. What better way to do this than join a prenatal yoga class? Pregnant women are very aware of body changes, and yoga allows them to embrace the transformation with a truly open heart. Prenatal yoga, when practiced mindfully, can have countless benefits, which include increased flexibility, strength, overall balance, and healthy circulation.

Practicing prenatal yoga also alleviates common pregnancy problems, such as indigestion, heartburn, morning sickness, fatigue, back pain, swelling and insomnia. Mind-body awareness is a critical part of prenatal yoga as it develops concentration, focus, and reduces stress. It’s about developing moment-to-moment awareness, especially useful during labor as it reduces anxiety and fear. The ability to be present, and breathe through the sensations of stretching or pose holding allows one to soften and surrender – similar to the experience of labor.

For sciatica pain, practice this particular exercise while sitting or standing. Bend your right standing leg over the left thigh. Cross your right ankle over the opposite knee. Open one’s bent knee to the side, sitting down a little deeper, and with a lengthened spine lean your torso forward until one you feel a stretch in the bent leg’s hip. Hold here for 5-10 breaths if standing, or 1-2 minutes if seated. Breath work that uses the transverse abdominals (TVA) are extremely valuable for pregnant women. TVA are deep abdominal muscles that make up the foundation of the abdominal core. They support a pregnant woman’s growing belly and protect the ligaments that stabilize the uterus. ‘Belly breathing’ is a simple, gentle, safe, and effective way to work the TVA in pregnancy. You can start by sitting with the lengthened neutral spine. With each inhale allow the belly to expand. This movement allows the diaphragm more room to move down with the in breath.  With each exhale allow the belly to gently move back toward the spine. This exercise increases energy while simultaneously toning your muscles.

By Praveena Chinthaluri. Praveena Chinthaluri teaches prenatal yoga at Downtown Yoga on Sundays at 12pm to 1:15 pm. She is a mother of an eight-year-old. You can contact her at praveena123@gmail.com. Please contact your local studio, Pleasanton Downtown Yoga www.pleasantonyoga.com for yoga classes conducted in two beautiful studios Om and Lotus on Main Street.