Yoga has long been acknowledged as a great way to exercise whilst pregnant, and so has swimming, both low impact gentle ways to release those lovely endorphins and keep you in shape. So we thought you’d like to know about a new kind of yoga, a kind that takes place in the water! Here, Gaby Lixton, founder of nationwide, award-winning baby swim programme Turtle Tots tells us all about Aqua Natal Yoga and how it could benefit you...
Despite the major health benefits associated with keeping active during pregnancy, exercising while pregnant is still something of a taboo. How much is too much? How often should you exercise, what should you focus on and what should you avoid doing? With so many questions and some mixed messaging thrown in, it’s not surprising that many women shy away from exercise during pregnancy. But keeping fit and active during this time is vital for mother and baby, so even if the thought of running on the treadmill fills you with dread or you can’t see yourself running another marathon any time soon, you don’t have to put the stoppers on exercising altogether, it’s about finding new ways of keeping active which fits with your current and future lifestyle.
Choosing the best way to exercise while pregnant may also be linked to how you want to keep fit once your baby is born. For instance, you might not be desperate to go back to your spinning class with baby in tow and use a crèche facility; one way to exercise safely during pregnancy and as a new mum (with baby by your side) is via more specialised exercises such as aqua natal yoga which can progress to baby swimming classes once baby is born.
It’s in the waters
When you exercise during pregnancy you release all of these wonderful endorphins which are good for you and your unborn baby. There is a growing issue in the UK with obesity and gestational diabetes not to mention the risk of birth and health complications related to being heavily overweight while pregnant, so anything you can do to keep fit and healthy can only be a good thing.
Professor Greg Whyte is the preeminent authority on exercise, physiology and sports performance and rehabilitation in the UK. An internationally recognised expert in the area he has a particular interest in pre-natal and post-natal fitness, he says:
“Swimming is one of the best exercises during all stages of pregnancy providing a safe, warm, private environment together with the ability to maintain fitness throughout pregnancy and beyond. Aqua natal yoga exercise is also good for you during pregnancy, helping to maintain your fitness and strength and controlling your weight. Maintaining fitness during your pregnancy will also help you cope better with giving birth and speed your return to full fitness following the birth.”
“In the first trimester there is no need to change any of your usual exercises except any exercise where there is a possibility of collision e.g. team sports like netball, hockey or squash. Your baby is very well protected in the womb and a fit, healthy mother is a real positive for the baby. In the second trimester you should begin to think about the additional weight associated with the baby and fluid, plus the position you are carrying the baby which affects your posture.”
Aqua natal yoga – the benefits
Aqua natal yoga is a great way to keep active during pregnancy. It is essentially a yoga class in the water that benefits from the feeling of weightlessness and uses some of the standard yoga poses and also relaxation techniques designed especially for pregnant women. You can start aqua natal yoga from 14 weeks up until the birth of your child and here are some key reasons to give it a whirl:
- You will be exercising in a gravity-free environment which means you can get into different positions more easily than on dry land.
- Adaptive swim is great for your body and mind as you release endorphins.
- Being in the water is relaxing and a great stress reliever too.
- Aqua natal exercise can also help with tiredness in the earlier stages of pregnancy helping you to feel more invigorated and energetic.
- It can help to get baby into the right position for the birth using certain poses and techniques.
- You will benefit from learning to focus on breathing techniques which are designed to help you during labour by using effective breathing techniques that help you to relax.
- You will bond with other like-minded mums-to-be and share experiences.
- Aqua natal yoga will help to strengthen your back and arms as well as your core and pelvic floor.
- The exercise will encourage regular movement from your baby in the womb.
- Aqua natal exercises can also help with spinal alignment (naturally your spine wants to curve during pregnancy and certain techniques can help you to focus on your posture).
Back to the pool post-birth
Once your baby is born, introducing your child to baby swimming is a natural progression from aqua natal yoga and means you can continue to exercise gently post-birth with your baby by your side. It is also great for beating the ‘baby blues’, meeting like-minded people and is great for your physical and mental well-being – and let’s not forget the incredible bonding experience between you and your little one that comes from exercising in the water both pre and post birth; it is certainly worth dipping your toe into the water for…
For more information about Aqua Natal Yoga and Turtle Tots, please visit their website: www.turtletots.com