KEEP THAT PREGNANCY bump in shape with yoga

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Exercising is an overall lifestyle practice that we all ought to implement and being pregnant is not an excuse. However, the one thing that pregnancy can exempt you from is high intensity exercises such as aerobics. Choose low intensity ones such as walking and yoga and let our yoga expert take you through her top exercises for pregnant women. 

Yoga utilises deep breaths, which open the lungs to their full capacity allowing optimum functioning. At the same time the diaphragm massages and stimulates the upper organs such as the heart when you breathe in and the lower organs such as stomach when you breath out. Pre and postnatal yoga instructor Sheila Adhiambo says that proper breathing techniques help one to relax, relieve stress and sleep better which is particularly beneficial to pregnant women. She adds that using proper breathing techniques during labour can ease the discomforts. She takes us through her top pregnancy yoga exercises, which can be done at home or in the office.

Exercise: Cat cow pose

Gently get on all fours (cat cow pose) – use support such as a chair or table if you need to, keeping your knees in line with palms. Then make/draw circles using lower back muscles. Modify position while standing by spreading feet slightly apart, toes facing outwards to help maintain balance, and then slowly round your hips fully from left to right, changing directions simultaneously.

Benefits: Can be done in any trimester, helps ease labour, helps turn and engage the baby, and eases tension in lower back muscles.

Exercise: Abdominal stretches

Get in cat cow position then slowly, using your hands for support, extend right leg outwards away from your body in a straight motion, in line with the hip. Then slowly, raise your left arm and extend it forward as far as you can and as straight as you can. Breathe in and out as you stretch (five times), then change to stretch left leg and right arm to same position.

Benefits:Can be done in any trimester, opens ribcage to create room for baby’s growth, stretches abdominal and upper body muscles.

Exercise: Squats

Stand feet slightly apart with toes facing outwards, as this will soften your lower back muscles. Inhale and extend your arms all the way above your head and exhale. Then inhale again and bend your knees and glide all the way down to a full squat then exhale out. Do this for five counts of breaths. In case of difficulty, simply modify the position by doing half squats or lean towards the wall with feet three inches away from the wall and toes pointed out, then place your arms on your hips, then with your back glued to the wall, glide down slowly then repeat for five times breathing in and out.

Benefits:Can be done anywhere during all trimesters. It can also be substituted by climbing stairs and helps loosen back muscles while improving breathing.

Exercise: Hip stretches

Get in cat cow pose. Then while inhaling, bring your right knee towards your right elbow as far as your bump will allow you. Then while breathing out, slowly return the knee to the ground. Do this five times and do the same to the opposite leg.

Benefits: Can be done in any trimester. Helps to stretch and loosen hips as they broaden.

NOTE:Consult a doctor before embarking on any exercise routine and accord your instructor full disclosure concerning the condition of your

pregnancy.

Published in July 2015

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