Yoga for Maternal Bodily Awareness
The way we exercise is very similar to our personality because motivation is closely tied to our intent and our self-image. No doubt staying energized during pregnancy can be difficult, particularly if we rely on caffeine for a daily energy boost, but what if we could view fitness during pregnancy as a way to boost our self-esteem and help us be fit for labor?
It is said that “a woman exercises pretty much the same way that she lives life” (HypnoBirthing pg97). For that reason, you must take the time to assess how you see yourself and whether this image is conducive to healthy self-esteem especially as our bodies change during pregnancy. Nature takes over and our bodies change whether we want them to or not. Weight gain, larger blood volume, decrease in lung capacity, and the hormones coursing through the veins will make us feel sluggish and our motivation to stay active can go out the window. Much of the determining aspects of how you will make important choices concerning exercise are factored into how you regard health and your own role in this experience.
What is Tonal?
Tonal is a digital weight system that connects strength through technology. By combining cutting-edge all-in-one equipment, expert-led videos, and personalized guidance Tonal has developed an effective fitness program that is like having a personal trainer on-demand and in the convenience of your home. Truly the world’s smartest home gym and personal trainer in one.
Before a workout
As a general rule of thumb, always talk to your health care provider to get a green light on exercise because there may be some things that are specific to you and your pregnancy. Don’t expect a doctor to provide your fitness regimen; however, because that is not their field of expertise.
During a workout
Whether you have been working out prior or not it is now recommended to exercise during pregnancy. You will have to make some modifications for the different trimesters as the belly grows, but you can do more than you think. I cover many of the hormonal changes that affect a workout on Tonal and how to workout with awareness during these changes. Here are some highlights here that you can refer to as a reminder.
- Relaxin affects the joints and ligaments, so it is very important not to overstretch and to avoid high impact exercises that could cause long term damage to the joints
- Red cell mass rises to carry the extra oxygen taken up in pregnancy. Greater blood volume is needed to cope with the very large increases in blood flow to organs and the baby. You will feel generally shorter on breath, so it is important to listen to your breath and take rests as needed.
- To make space for the baby avoid deep twists, a narrow stance, crunching, lying on the belly, and flat on the back. You would be surprised that you can join a regular yoga class by listening to your body and making these simple modifications.
After a workout
An adequate water intake is so important for pregnancy as the amniotic fluid needs ample water and we need more to digest our prenatal vitamins that can cause constipation. Drinking enough water can be difficult especially with our increased need to pee, but adding movement on top of the demands requires us to drink more than is expected of us. Personally, I make a point to drink 2L a day.
Adequate rest is just as important as the workout itself. We are not pushing ourselves when we exercise during pregnancy, our bodies are going through enough, so if you can time for yourself to drink a cup of tea, have a hot bath, meal to rest, and recoup encourage you to workout again with positive reinforcement.
My prenatal yoga classes
For my prenatal workout series on Tonal, I wanted to bring you the classes that supported mamas-to-be with connecting to the mind, body, and baby. As yoga really benefitted me during my first and second trimester I focused on 4 topics with classes of varying lengths.
Zen – 30-minute flow to restore, rebalance, and slow down to connect with the baby.
Energize – a gentle 20-minute yoga and breathwork flow for a quick energy boost throughout the day.
Invigorate – a 45-minute power flow to get the heart pumping
Balance – 30-minute flow to improve balance and core strength.
Taking these classes before pregnancy or leading up will help to educate you on what’s to come and to be more in tune with the nuances of the body.
Trust the process
From these classes, I hope you can learn to appreciate the body and feel empowered by what pregnant women can do. Not only will you benefit from this enhanced maternal bodily awareness at every stage of pregnancy, but you will form a deeper connection to the baby in your body who will be benefitting from your activity in your breath, and recovery from birth will become easier.