Pregnancy can be all kinds of exciting. But it can also be stressful, exhausting, confusing, and, well, downright difficult on both body and mind—even more so if your go-to forms of exercise (ahem, spin classes or road races) seem to have gone out the window for nine months.
Fortunately, yoga can offer a slew of benefits for mamas-to-be. For one, it’s a safe and low-impact workout. But it also promotes everything from circulation, fuller breath, and increased strength to mental tenacity, which is key for, you know, that whole giving birth thing. (Just be sure your doctor says it’s safe for you to work out before picking up an exercise routine with a baby on the way.)
Any “prenatal” or “gentle” yoga class with a prenatal certified teacher will give ample opportunity to release what ails a pregnant body, too, says Heidi Kristoffer, a New York-based yoga instructor. So you can send at least *some* of your pain packing.
Here, six other perks of practicing poses during pregnancy.
You’ll squash stress
“Stress is bad for mama and it’s bad for baby,” says Kristoffer. “Yoga brings you into the present moment by connecting your mind to your breath and your breath to your movement.” It also allows you to take time in a busy schedule to connect with your growing baby, she says.
Bringing awareness and attention to your body and your baby also allows you to fine-tune the critical skill of knowing what feels right for your individual pregnancy, says Tatyana Souza, owner of Coolidge Yoga studios in Boston. Practicing ujjayi breath—breathing slowly from your diaphragm, inhaling and exhaling through your nose as you lightly constrict the back of your throat to create a whispering sound while holding a strength-building posture—can help you tune inward. So can placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart during Savasana.