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9 Reasons Why Yoga During Pregnancy Is An Awesome Thought

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A little physical exercise during pregnancy is always good – it keeps weight in check, sugar levels in control and helps to boost circulation which is beneficial for both the mother and baby. If gym and freehand exercises are not what you enjoy, try doing yoga. If you are into yoga then continuing it during your pregnancy is a great idea, if you are not and want to get started with prenatal yoga do it under the supervision of an instructor. 

9 Reasons Why Yoga During Pregnancy Is An Awesome Thought

Physical Benefits:

  1. Doing postures during pregnancy helps to keep the bone and the muscles strong. As the weight of mother increases rapidly and her muscles need to be ready and strong to handle these changes. Here are some yoga asanas that are advisable for the pregnant mother.
  2. Back pain is a very common issue seen nowadays during the pregnancy period. By doing yoga the mother-to-be can keep her spine strong and flexible so that it can easily handle the heavy weighted belly.
  3. During pregnancy, pain in the legs is very common. This happens when the muscles are tensed. Doing yoga helps relieve muscular tension.
  4. Yoga helps to keep the body active and mobilized so that she can complete her daily routine with comfort and ease.
  5. Yoga provides the strength to the body of the expecting mother to tolerate the pain of labour.

Mental Benefits:

  1. ‘Meditation’ and ‘Pranayama’ help the mother-to-be keep calm during pregnancy as it relieves tension and stress from the mind, bringing strong consciousness power to it. 
  2. Yoga helps keep negativity away from the expecting mother and creates a positive aura around her so that the child is impacted by the positivity which in turn helps in the brain development of the fetus.
  3. During pregnancy, the women undergo a lot of hormonal changes, which affect her emotionally. Doing yoga helps with building her mental strength.
  4. It helps create an internal communication between the mother & the child, which keeps the child happy and helps the mother to have a healthy baby.

Prenatal yoga helps the mothers-to-be in numerous ways; however, before starting the practice of prenatal and postnatal yoga, proper guidance should be taken from a certified yoga teacher.

posted Jun 8, 2018 by Aleena Alexander

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12 Reasons Why Yoga Is Spreading Around the World There were over 1,000 people from 60 countries participating in the International Yoga Festival. It was an ideal opportunity to experience the full spectrum of the growing global yoga community.

Following the trip to India, I interviewed a wide-range of Western yoga teachers and practitioners. Through these interviews in India and beyond, I gained a birdseye view of the emerging yoga phenomena. Here are 12 reasons why yoga is spreading around the world:

1. Yoga is ancient: Yes, we all know yoga is thousands of years old. This fact became more real for me when I visited Vashistha’s cave outside of Rishikesh. Vashistha lived thousands of years ago and was the guru of Lord Ram. The cave has been and still is revered by swamis who practice yoga meditation and perform daily rituals at the cave. (Where I grew up in rural Indiana, we had nothing remotely like this sacred cave.)

2. Yoga is a science: In Rishikesh, I met Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, a PhD graduate from Stanford University who left academia to join the monastic order. Sadhvi, along with other teachers, talked about yoga being a science. This means that there are methods and techniques that led to specific results - ultimately to Samadhi, or oneness with God/Cosmic Consciousness. Sadhvi said yoga is free of dogma and that people of any religion or culture can and do practice yoga and look to their own direct experience of how yoga benefits them.

3. Yoga was intentionally introduced to the West: When I interviewed the filmmakers of Awake: The Life of Yogananda, they talked about how a line of Himalayan masters planned years in advance to send Paramahansa Yogananda to the West to introduce Kriya Yoga. Yogananda came to Boston in 1920 and his first talk was “The Science of Religion.” Yoga arrived when people in the West were starting to explore quantum physics. Prior to this time, Western people did not have a language to understand the energy and consciousness aspects of yoga.

There is a scene in the film AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda where Yogananda as a baby is being blessed by his guru’s guru, Lahiri Mahasaya. Lahiri says, “the message of yoga will encircle the globe and aid in assisting in the brotherhood of man.”

4. Modern science is validating the benefits of yoga: Yogananda talked about reprogramming the wiring of the brain and mind decades before scientists began discussing neuroplasticity. In the film, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, a Harvard- and MIT-trained physicist-physician, Dr Goel, describes how yoga opens a person’s individual consciousness to a larger universal field of consciousness. She also talked about the positive benefits of these practices for physical, mental and emotional well-being.

5. Modern life is driving people to ancient yoga: I heard numerous yoga practitioners from the U.S, China, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Mexico and many other countries say they started doing yoga to find relief from the stress of modern life and/or physical ailments. The “pursuit of happiness” through consumerism (known in psychology as the hedonic treadmill) is leaving many people feeling isolated, disconnected and stressed out.

6. You do yoga, yoga does you: Several yoga teachers and students talked about the transformation they experienced by practising yoga. Over time, people found that their entire way of beginning to shift as they tapped into a deeper part of themselves. Swamis called this deeper essence our true Self, our soul, which is part of a larger universal consciousness.

Richard Miller, who is a psychologist and yoga teacher for over 45 years, told me yoga helps people go into non-dual states of consciousness where we experience our connectedness with all of life. By being able to go in and out of dual and non-dual states, we gain access to intuition and wisdom to guide our day-to-day lives.

7. Yoga can help clarify life purpose: Many people said yoga helped them clarify their life purpose. Instead of identifying with a title or role, they identified more with a deeper essence and then looked at how they could serve people around them. One of the most unusual and inspiring stories I heard in Rishikesh was from Krzysztof Stec who was born in communist Poland. Krzysztof was introduced to yoga at the age of 15 by his uncle who was a Benedictine monk in a remote monastery. Krzysztof then found his life unfolding in an unplanned way where he was led to different people doing research on the scientific benefits of yoga. Krzysztof went on to do advanced degrees in physical education where he combined yoga practice. Krzysztof, like many other people I met, has a passion for helping people.

8. Yoga goes far beyond the mat; yoga is a way of life: Hatha yoga (the physical asanas) offers the doorway for many people into yoga. The deeper practices of yoga go far beyond the mat. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras provide an 8-fold path that leads to God realization. The first two paths are Yama and Niyamas - yoga’s 10 ethical guidelines and foundation to all yogic thought which guide people on how to relate with oneself and with others. Asanas, or physical postures, are the third step which creates the foundation for the higher steps, including meditation, that eventually take people into samadhi.

When talking with Vandana Shiva, a leading scientist and social entrepreneur in India, she said yoga should not be put on the mat as yoga is a way of life. She said when we practice the true yoga we know we are connected with everything, so we relate to the environment, our food and other people with compassion and care for we know they are part of ourSelves.

9. Yoga is a catalyst for change: Yoga is being used in schools, prisons and a wide-range of social settings to help alleviate suffering. In Rishikesh, I met Sharon and Sandra Marotta, a mother and daughter who created Ashram for Autism, a non-profit organization that helps families and schools with autistic children through yoga. Sharon said that the children respond to simple breathing exercises that help them to slow down and ground themselves. I later learned that research at Columbia University supports Sharon’s experiences as they are finding that yoga programs help children between the ages of 6 and 11 to improve their academic performance.

10. Yoga is helping people heal: There were numerous stories of yoga helping people heal from physical, mental and emotional ailments. I met Tommy Rosen who is a yoga teacher and founder of Recovery 2.0 - a program helping people move beyond addiction by using yoga to build upon 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. I interviewed Brad Willis, or Bhava Ram, who is a former NBC war correspondent who healed himself of a broken back and stage 4 cancer in large part through yoga.

11. Yoga is helping military veterans and National Football League players: I interviewed Susan Lynch, a veteran from the first Persian Gulf War who healed herself of PTSD in large part through yoga. As a yoga teacher, Susan founded There And Back Again, a non-profit helping veterans suffering from PTSD. Also, Keith Mitchell is a former NFL all-pro linebacker who healed himself after injuries ended his professional football career. Keith is now working with the University of Rochester and Congressman Ryan to assist veterans and NFL players through yoga and other alternative health care programs.

12. Yoga is spreading rapidly around the world: Spending time practicing with over 1,000 people from 60 countries was proof enough to me that yoga is spreading around the world. One of the most telling interviews was with Mohan Bhandari, a yoga teacher from India who went to China in 2003 to teach a class for a week. Twelve years later, Mohan is one of China’s leading yoga teachers with over 50 franchises. He has trained over 10,000 teachers in China and says yoga is the fifth most sought-after job among young people.

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Over the past few decades, we have witnessed a confluence of Western medicine and psychological theories with ancient Eastern practices such as yoga and mindfulness meditation or addressing women’s health issues. This marriage of ideas is reflected in and supported by the many benefits of yoga for women including emotional (e.g., feeling calm and relaxed), physical (e.g., improved sleep and weight loss), and social (e.g., feeling connected to others in class) benefits.

Yoga is a mindfulness technique that involves breathing and physical poses.  Science has shown yoga to be beneficial in its ability to increase mind-body awareness, promote physical movement, and cultivate acceptance of one’s internal experience of emotions, thoughts, and sensations. So, what are the benefits of yoga for women? Women, relative to men, are at risk for experiencing reproductive-related health issues during the childbearing years due to normal physiological hormonal transitions that are associated with the reproductive lifecycle, namely menstruation, pregnancy and the postpartum period, and also generally for women over 50 due to menopause.

Menstruation

Women of reproductive age can experience monthly fluctuations in emotional and physical symptoms that are associated with the cyclical rhythm of their menstrual cycle.

The majority of women experience some negative emotional, physical, or relational symptoms in the days prior to menses, with symptoms ranging on a continuum from mild to severe and debilitating. Emotional symptoms include mood lability and irritability, while physical symptoms include fatigue, bloatedness, and breast tenderness. Excercises for women such as a regular yoga practice can address these symptoms by helping to calm the central nervous system through stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response), which facilitates decreased stress and tension in the body and cultivates deep relaxation. Further, the practice of asanas with an emphasis on linking breath with movement can work to increase the flow of oxygenated blood to the reproductive organs and tissues, working to alleviate discomfort associated with cramps, and increase circulation in the body to minimize the storage of fluids that causes bloating.

Childbirth (pregnancy and postpartum)

The benefits of yoga for women who are pregnant and postpartum are manifold. Research has shown yogato decrease the perception of pain during labor, reduce physical discomfort during pregnancy and labor, significantly reduce stress and sleep disturbance, as well as improve overall quality of life.

Approximately 13% of women experience a major depressive episode during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Research has documented poor outcomes associated with depression, such as higher rates of preeclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and complications during pregnancy and labor. Prenatal yogahas been associated with reduced depression and anxiety, and has been shown to support women with high-risk pregnancies by reducing the potential for pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia. The transition to motherhood can have a significant impact in the areas of work and relationships. Further, postpartum women often experience weight gain coupled with decreased physical activity following childbirth, with weight gain an important factor contributing to poor emotional health during this time. A regular postpartum yoga practice may affect change in these areas by helping to cultivate and support vitality, energy, weight loss,  and social functioning. Morever, the physical aspect of yoga can counteract inactivity and agitation associated with depression and anxiety, as well as to promot self-master and self-efficacy.

Menopause

Menopause is defined as the cessation of ovarian function and marks the completion of a woman’s reproductive phase. The transition to menopause, called the perimenopausal period, usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 and 55 and generally takes several years to unfold.

During perimenopause, fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels manifest in uncomfortable psychological, somatic, and vasomotor symptoms. The most common menopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, pain, decreased libido, and mood swings, with most symptoms persisting for several years postmenopause. While not all women experience all of these symptoms, over half will likely experience mild symptoms. Perimenopausal women may turn to yoga to reduce the unwanted side effects of menopausal symptoms. While a yoga practice cannot directly effect estrogen production, restorative postures in particular can help to calm the nervous system by way of turning down the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and supporting activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response), as well as to improve functioning of the endocrine system, which can support the body in adapting to hormonal fluctuations.​

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