Yoga has long been recognized as one of the best ways of cultivating and maintaining holistic health across gender and age groups. A growing body of research has also highlighted the great benefits that yoga can have for expecting mothers, ranging from helping them increase their energy to boosting their mood and keeping stress and depression at bay.
Now, interesting research is suggesting that the benefits of yoga may extend beyond childbirth.
While it can be a very exciting and magical time for expecting parents and those around them, pregnancy comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities, which only compound as the birth date approaches near. And post-birth, both men and women (but women in particular), may face physical exhaustion, the upheaval of emotions, and sleep deprivation. Post the pains of labor, women, in particular, undergo significant hormonal changes, which alongside the constant care and attention that newborns require, can push them towards feelings of sadness, irritability, low energy, and crying spells; in other words, post-partum depression. In extreme cases, this can also impact the newborn child, who may pick up on the negative cues in the environment, or whose needs may not be met by compromised parents.
Post-partum depression continues to be kept hush-hush, due to both the stigma of mental illness and the social expectations placed on parents to be very happy. However, it is a very common reaction and does not at all mean that those who suffer from this form of depression are unprepared to be parents. Rather, it is a natural bio-emotional reaction to what is often a very challenging phase of life.
Given the negative impact it can have on parents and newborns, and the fact that it can make an already trying time even more challenging, it becomes important to deal with the possibility of post-partum depression at the earliest. While counseling and medication are always an option for those who have been diagnosed, it may be even better to nip the issue at the bud. Some advance preventive strategies can help in inoculating expecting parents, especially mothers, against the possibility of post-partum depression, which becomes even important if the mother is at risk due to factors such as family history, or those whose pregnancy has faced complications.
Yoga not only works out the body, but it also helps in stimulating the mind. Studies have shown time and again that yoga can become an effective tool for alleviating symptoms of mental problems, and the same benefits are also valid for the period of pregnancy. Indeed, regular practice of yoga can help in developing patterns of positive thoughts, promote mindfulness, and induce relaxation. All of this puts you in a better psychological place and prepares you for your upcoming challenges and responsibilities. In order words, regular yoga practice during pregnancy can help you develop a mental shield that can protect you from post-partum depression.
So not only does yoga serve you well during your pregnancy by alleviating your symptoms and keeping you fit, but it also helps you, physically and mentally, post your labor and birth. And if you have not been able to practice yoga during your pregnancy, do not worry. There is always time for you to take up the discipline post the birth of your child. This can help in the faster physical recovery of your body, and also help you in alleviating post-partum symptoms if you suffer from any.
While the flexibility and variability of yoga ensure that anybody can do at least some asanas, it is always best to consult with both your doctor and a yoga teacher who has experience in working with pregnant women before you undertake any exercises. As your body changes across the trimesters, the kind and duration of exercises that you should undertake would also change. Always listen to your body and the experts to prevent any unnecessary strain. With this reasonable precaution in mind, you can truly enjoy the yoga sessions as a great time for mindfulness and bonding with the life growing inside you, and also be secured in the fact that your efforts today will continue to have payoffs post your pregnancy as well.