Prenatal yoga is good for the mind and body

Natali Trivuncic
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Between morning sickness, raging hormones and other body changes, exercise may be the last thing that you want to do during pregnancy, but prenatal yoga may provide some relief for some of the common aches and pains women experience while expecting.

Yoga is well-known for its mind-body benefits, focusing on centring the body and whether you are in your first trimester or nearing your third, it is easy to feel off balance. Kari Petrin teaches prenatal yoga at the Tru North Yoga Cooperative in Fort Frances and she said practicing yoga can bring you back to centre.

“There’s so many physical demands for labour and childbirth that giving them this opportunity for yoga to just prepare them mind, body, spirit is just wonderful,” Petrin said.

Prenatal yoga incorporates the different types of yoga’s such as Vinyasa or Hatha yoga but are adapted to keep expectant mothers safe and incorporate poses that are going to be helpful to mothers during childbirth.

“It’s not meant to be a strenuous exercise routine, it’s more for relaxation and connecting with baby,” Petrin said. “We’re really just focusing on improving strength, flexibility, endurance, gentle stretches and postures, breathing techniques, things that they can take with them on and off the mat.”

Yoga is very beneficial but experts recommend against pregnant women doing hot yoga where yoga is practiced at temperatures of 35C to 40C.

An article by The College of Family Physicians of Canada stated that hot yoga makes you tired faster, increasing the risk of dizziness of fainting, overstretching and muscle damage due to fatigue. Among these risks to pregnant women, exposure to excessive heat may cause other malformations to the fetus.

Petrin said she saw the demand for prenatal yoga when friends started asking her if they could do yoga while pregnant.

“With having prenatal students come to your regular yoga classes, you really have to be aware and cautious about them so I wanted to bring something specifically for our prenatal students at the True North Yoga studio,” Petrin said.

Petrin said the moms-to-be in her class are loving the stretches to relieve tension in the lower back which many women experience during pregnancy. She adds that the poses help to also relieve indigestion, swelling and inflammation around the joints and improve sleep and posture.

While relieving tension and pain in the body is important, Petrin said focusing on the mind is also crucial to relieve stress and anxiety that often surrounds the pregnancy.

“Yoga helps you to remain in the here and now rather than having to worry about all the worries that maybe are coming, the pregnancy, changing body, giving birth, it’s all happening within a year of your life so just to give you the time to sit back and just connect,” Petrin said.

Prenatal yoga classes began at the Tru North Yoga Cooperative on Jan. 5. They have only been able to have two classes so far and thought that they would be back in person soon, but because of the extended lockdown, it is unsure when they will return to in studio classes.

However, they do have classes over Zoom which Petrin said is not such a bad thing because this way they can reach a wider audience.

Classes are offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings and expectant mothers can register for through the Facebook True North Yoga Cooperative page.

Petrin said that not only is this good exercise but it is also a chance for the women in the class to come together and bond over their shared pregnancy journey.

“Those mamas kind of develop a little circle of trust and they’re all kind of going through the same thing,” Petrin added.