Staying Fit During Pregnancy with Prenatal Yoga
For Your Baby And Yourself
Where to get that so needed workout even when your belly's starting to grow.
Although the fitness and wellness industry in Japan is really expanding and embracing some international concepts, there are still a few areas that stick with their traditional ideas and customs. As a personal trainer with a specialization in pre and post-natal fitness, I believe it’s important to keep up with exercise during pregnancy. I was pretty stunned the other day when I was asked to leave the gym and renounce my membership once the staff realized that I was pregnant (and possibly not just slacking off on the cardio and core work!).
For the record, some benefits of exercising while pregnant can include:
- Alleviated pregnancy fatigue, boosted energy and improved mood
- Improved sleep
- It can help prepare the body for childbirth
- Keeps weight under control and aids in quicker recovery post-delivery
- Minimizes back, hip and other joint pains that can occur during pregnancy
However, if you haven’t been exercising prior to your pregnancy, now is not the time to kick start all your great fitness intentions! If this is your situation, yoga is a fantastic option to consider, as this is one of the types of exercises you can do while pregnant, even with no previous experience. But like any exercise regime during pregnancy, it is important to get the go-ahead from your doctor or obstetrician before you begin. Also make sure your instructor understands the modifications required for exercising during pregnancy.
Yoga while pregnant is great not just for the physical benefits, such as improved posture, increased pelvic floor strength, and relief of lower back pain, but also the vital aspect of conscious breathing practiced in yoga. These breathing techniques learned in yoga can keep stress and anxiety levels in check, help still the mind, and help in preparation for labor and delivery.
If you’re new to yoga, it’s best to find a specific prenatal yoga class to ensure you are performing the poses correctly and not leading to potential injury to you or your baby. It’s also a lovely way to meet some other like-minded expecting mums in a positive, relaxed and healthy environment.
Currently, there are prenatal yoga classes taught in English at Yoga Tree in Hiroo and there are classes taught in Japanese with some English guidance also available at Shizen Yoga Studio in Kichijoji. It’s also a good idea to sign up to Tokyo Pregnancy Group Facebook page, as there are often new smaller classes being organized around town in English that may be posted there. Mom in Balance is a wonderful group of cheerful moms and moms-to-be who manage to find time to gather in the name of fitness and exercise together.
If you have other commitments or just can’t make it to a studio in Tokyo, there are some great resources online that allow you to do practices in the comfort and convenience of your own home. I’m a huge fan of Yogaglo, as it offers specific prenatal classes for different levels and with great instructional cues, which is key when you are practicing on your own. If this isn’t for you, a simple Google search for “online pregnancy yoga” returns over 100 million hits, so you are sure to find something that suits your level, style and budget. Just be careful, always listen to your body, and never over exert yourself.