Say Ohm for a Better

By Marianne McGinnis

Safe poses have a healthy payoff.


Yoga gurus say regularly practicing the postures relieves a multitude of pregnancy-related woes and also benefits baby. But research validating such claims has been nonexistent--until now.

Scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center joined forces with Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in Bangalore, India, to follow 335 women, ages 18 to 35, who either took an hour-long yoga class or walked an hour each day during their second and third trimesters. The researchers found that those who did yoga were half as likely to give birth prematurely (14% versus 29%) and had lower emergency C-section rates (23% versus 33%) than those who walked. The yoga moms also had lower blood pressure and better fetal growth rates, on average.

"The improvement we saw in those who did the stretching, breathing, and meditation exercises could be due to an increase in blood flow to the placenta, a decrease in stress hormones transferred to the fetus, a decline in the early release of hormones that could trigger labor, or all three," says study coauthor Vivek Narendran, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the center.

Women interested in adding yoga to their prenatal care need to find a safe class, says Nicole DeAvilla Whiting, a certified Yoga Alliance instructor. For starters, she advises:

Look for classes designed for pregnancy: Safe styles include Hatha, Iyengar, Ananda, and Kundalini.


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