Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hot Yoga for Newly Pregnanyc Mommy

Most yoga studios offer prenatal yoga classes for the simple reason that women who have been practicing yoga for years and who have been given the go-ahead from their doctor can still enjoy the benefits of a yoga workout. Even pregnant women who are beginners to the practice are guided safely through specially modified Hatha yoga poses by qualified prenatal yoga instructors. Bikram, or hot, yoga has gained popularity in recent years, bringing with it debate on whether a pregnant woman should engage in hot yoga.
Origins of Hot Yoga
Hot yoga is more correctly called Bikram yoga after its founder, Bikram Choudhury. Hailing from India and winner of the All-India National Yoga Championship four years in a row, Choudhury drew upon the tradition of Hatha yoga to devise a new style of yoga. Comprised of 26 postures which benefit every muscle and organ of the body and performed in a room heated to 105 degrees F, Bikram yoga is aimed at achieving "optimum health," according to Choudhury's website.
Prenatal Hot Yoga
Choudhury's wife, Rajashree, is a Hatha-trained yoga therapist who developed a prenatal hot yoga program. She focuses on safety first, urging women who are pregnant for the first time to avoid any new form of exercise, including hot yoga; and for women who are already practitioners of hot yoga not to practice until after the first trimester. She also advises every woman to consult with her doctor before practicing hot yoga, because some women may be at risk from the extreme temperature.
Practicing Hot Yoga While Pregnant
Most of the 26 poses Choudhury adapted from Hatha yoga are strenuous, with the exception of two "resting" poses. Typical classes are 90 minutes long, performed in a studio heated to 105 degrees F. The poses in a pregnancy hot yoga class are modified to avoid compression of certain areas of your body like the diaphragm and heart. Straight-legged or legs-together poses are performed with your knees bent and your legs spread, respectively. All hot yoga poses that require you to lie on your stomach have been stricken from the prenatal program.
The American Pregnancy Association cautions against exposing yourself to excessive heat. Raising your core temperature above 101 degrees F could affect the development of your baby. Always ask your instructor for permission to open the window should you need to cool down. Carry a thermometer to class and if your temperature rises above what would be considered a safe level, rest while it returns to normal. Above all, stay hydrated. Before beginning a hot yoga practice, particularly if you have not been active prior to your pregnancy, consult your doctor to discuss the risks.

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