Why yoga could be belly good for you

A pregnant woman doing yoga
A pregnant woman doing yoga

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Stretching and bending might be a daunting prospect with a big belly in tow, but yoga can actually be very beneficial for pregnant women.

Research by the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle earlier this year revealed that attending a pregnancy yoga class once a week for just eight weeks resulted in women having significantly less fear about giving birth, and less anxiety in general.

Even a single yoga class during pregnancy had the benefit of potentially cutting anxiety in mums-to-be by a third.

Cheryl MacDonald, founder of YogaBellies, which offers pre and post-natal yoga classes, is not surprised by these findings.

‘Yoga during pregnancy is especially beneficial, because women are undergoing times of great change, stress and anxiety,’ she says.

‘Yoga brings awareness to the body and the mind, and helps you feel calm.’

Pregnancy aside, yoga in general has experienced a huge boom in popularity over recent decades.

Once the reserve of just a few free-spirited devotees, now millions of people from all walks of life have switched on to its benefits for both body and mind, with classes readily available in gyms and clubs everywhere.

However, it seems yoga may be even more appealing to many women once they fall pregnant.

YogaBellies recently surveyed 700 women who attended pre-natal classes, and found that 86% of them had never previously set foot in a yoga class.

The trend’s been given the celebrity thumbs up too; before giving birth to her baby boy, Bobby, earlier this month, Kimberley Walsh wrote about her experience attending a class.

As Cheryl points out though, it’s important that mums-to-be who are new to yoga seek out a class that’s tailored to their needs.

‘It [pregnancy] really is a specialist area of teaching, because there are so many things that can go wrong and there are so many different specific conditions’

However, while being sensible and cautious is important, being active is still vital.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, a clinical consultant at patient.co.uk, says: ‘Exercise is important for everyone, but never more than when you’re pregnant.

‘It keeps your heart strong, your muscles toned, and being fit may even mean your labour is shorter.’

She adds: ‘But your body is going through huge changes in pregnancy, so it’s important to make allowances.

‘Low-impact exercises, designed for pregnant women are great, and pregnancy yoga can help you relax your mind too.’