By the time you reach 40, chances are you have heard of Yoga and maybe even tried it. In my case, I began my practice at 40 when I was faced with the news that my dad was terminally ill. I had hoped it would help me deal with the stress and uncertainty of life. It did all this and more and I found myself hooked on a daily dose of downward dogs.
Little did I know that 3 short years later I would be using my practice to prepare my body to give birth at 43.
Yoga has benefits for both your physical and emotional well being. I, as many of us, can’t ensure a completely stress-free life but I have learned to minimize my reactiveness to stress through a Yoga practice that balances body and mind.
Why might you choose to do Yoga as a pregnant woman over 40? The
benefits of Yoga, and meditation, are many but there are some specific to pregnancy and childbirth that make it such a wonderful time to introduce or re-commit to a practice.
Relieves Physical Discomfort
For me, Yoga helped relieve strain in my back and shoulders, comfort the ligaments in my hips and groin as they loosened in preparation for childbirth and provided overall physical relief to my growing body.
By Its Very Nature, Yoga Focus’ on Breathing
Breath brings life to you and your baby and being able to control your breathing is a key part of managing the childbirth process and getting through potentially difficult contractions. Your Yoga practice will strengthen your awareness of breath and teach you to focus on it more easily.
The meditation element of a regular Yoga practice sharpens your awareness of your body and mind and when they are experiencing stress. Why is this helpful? When you experience stress your blood pressure and heart rate raise and your adrenal glands pump out stress hormones (i.e not good for mom and baby). Conversely, when you meditate or relax, such as when you do Yoga, your heart rate and blood pressure lower and you cease to release stress hormones (i.e very good for mom and baby!). This provides a healthy environment for you and your baby to flourish.
A Time to Connect with Your Baby
Life is busy; the demands of work and family, the pressure of trying to fit more than 24 hours of output into a day. I used my regular Yoga practice as a time to connect with my body and my baby. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to imagine her little growing body as I worked through the poses of my practice. Sometimes she would sleep and some days she would be quite active but having that time to just take notice of her movements really helped me to connect with her. When my labor began I relied on those comforting memories to get through some pretty tough contractions. In my heart I felt it helped both of us.
Ready To Try?
Although there are quite a few DVD’s and books to show you how to do Yoga and even some that specialize in Yoga during pregnancy, if you are new to this practice I would highly recommend you attend prenatal classes. The benefit of the classes is having a coach (or Yogi) to show and gently correct you so you know you are doing the poses properly. I feel this is particularly important when you are pregnant, so you don’t injure yourself. In addition, you will have a chance to meet other pregnant woman which can be so nice.
If you are like me, you will be surprised to find a number of “older” moms in the group. In fact, I met several 40+ moms that became a support group for me during and after pregnancy because continuing your practice after your baby is born is equally as relaxing and grounding. In the early months once you have recovered, you can do it together with your baby which makes it a wonderful bonding experience and easier to do!
Of note, as with any new fitness program, you should mention it to your midwife or doctor. Although I am sure they will be pleased to know you are taking this time to relax and nurture yourself.
However you approach a Yoga practice, whether at home or in a studio, just remember to nurture your growing body and the precious little gift inside you. Being a mom at any age is such a wonderful experience but in my humble opinion, being a mom over 40 is the best time to embark on this journey. You will have so much more wisdom to share and love to give.
About Our Featured Blogger
Amanda Weber was a Marketing and PR Executive for the technology sector until she gave birth to her daughter at 43. Now she has been inspired to blog at http://www.afterfortymom.com and freelance write on the many advantages to having a baby later in life. She hopes you enjoy her personal experiences, articles and information that empowers and nurtures you on your journey to and through motherhood at a time that, in her humble opinion, allows us to offer so much more of ourselves.
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