By Maria Kondrashova, founder of Pommama, London-based pregnancy yoga service.

Incorporating Pregnancy Yoga into your routine will tremendously contribute to a healthy and happy pregnancy and will also help to combat the physical discomfort and emotional adjustment you may experience.

The benefits of doing yoga are immense at pregnancy, during labour and post-natal recovery. With an increasing amount of women turning to alternative methods to help them not only to prepare for labour but to stay connected, calm and in tune during their pregnancy, practicing pregnancy yoga becomes more and more mainstream day by day.

A recent survey conducted by Pommama, London’s first and only private pregnancy service, questioned the rise of those practicing yoga during pregnancy and enquired as to whether those who did practice found it useful and would keep on with their practice postnataly.

A whopping 42% of those interviewed had never practiced yoga prior to becoming pregnant and when asked whether they would continue afterwards a positive 75% said YES!

Those with an existing Yoga practice (58%) were very confident in continuing during their pregnancy recognising both physical and mental benefits of staying connected to the body, mind and spirit. For many Yoga is a tool for switching off the mind and is also a gentle yet strengthening exercise that will not put the body under any additional strain. When asked if those new to Yoga had found it useful twice as many respondents said Yes!

A recent initiative by the NHS is offering mums-to-be Yoga classes in order to tackle any fears that they may have around labour and to help to reduce the number of costly C-sections occuring in the UK. More and more women are speaking out about the benefits of regular stretching and in particular breathing techniques to help keep calm during labour and stay connected to the baby. 

Results like these enforce the need for complimentary therapies to sit side by side with the medical services provided and for many offer a choice to benefit from :

  • Toned and strengthened muscles
  • Strengthened pelvic floor
  • Improved posture
  • Better bond with your baby
  • Reduced levels of stress and anxiety
  • Better preparation for labour and delivery

With the recognition of alternative birth preparation methods like Yoga, the practice is  becoming more readily available in the UK with pregnancy yoga classes now being offered in vast majority of studios and private teachers for one-on-one lessons.  It is amazing to be a part of this process of making more and more pregnant women happier and healthier.

It is not only recognition of benefits of pregnancy yoga that brings mums-to-be to the mat. Now that you're eating and breathing for two it can be hard to decide how to exercise safely during pregnancy. The fact that only 5% of health professionals are qualified in pregnancy wellness doesn’t help either.

Although exercising isn't harmful for your baby (unless you start weightlifting or doing marathons first time at pregnancy), you may feel more comfortable with a wellness programme specifically designed for pregnancy, yoga being one of the few!  (But do make sure your teacher is fully qualified!) 

A number of mainstream mother & baby shops as well as pregnancy-wear boutiques have been trialling yoga at their stores.  Following the line of high street sport shops offering wellbeing programmes on their roof tops or shop floors, baby-related retail jumps on board in promoting yoga to its customers!  Waitrose has been offering yoga at some of its stores lately, who knows we might see some pregnancy yoga classes by the cakes shelves soon?

The popularity of yoga has been growing for several years but only nowadays it goes truly mainstream.

A 2016 study showed that yoga practice in the U.S. nearly doubled from 2012 to 2016. Yoga can reduce stress and, in turn, help with conditions from tinnitus to hot flushes. It improves strength, lung capacity, and posture. Now, yoga appears to be moving to the next stage of its evolution - medicine. Yes, yoga is becoming mainstream medicine, recommended by many doctors, says Dr Maxwell from Integrative and Functional Medicine.  UK tends to catch up with US fairly quickly.  This assures that given the trend, we will be able to enjoy the benefits of healthier lifestyles, lighter and brighter pregnancies and lots of happy babies.