Prenatal yoga 101: Should you perform inversions during pregnancy?
Pregnant women today are far more active and are taking conscious steps to take care of their fitness levels, even when they are expecting. Prenatal yoga features at the top of the list, and for good reason — that’s because it is gentle on the body, and provides a host of benefits. But if there’s one exercise that’s doing the rounds, it is the inversion pose! Yes, everyone from celebs Debina Bonnerjee to Pernia Qureshi seem to have taken to it.
In a recent Instagram post, Bonnerjee wrote, “When life turns you upside down…simply adjust your view.” As a word of caution, she added that she had “strong inversion practice before she was pregnant”. “Been doing it for years and felt safe and secure going upside down…continued for as long as I felt it’s a good idea,” she said.
Earlier, when actress Anushka Sharma was also expecting, she had also turned upside down and held the pose, with the help of her cricketer-husband Virat Kohli.
Stylist, entrepreneur and dancer Pernia Qureshi Gilani, also managed inversions during pregnancy with ease. But that comes with practice. She did them with the help of celebrity yoga instructor Anshuka Parwani.
On her Instagram page, Anshuka explains, “If you’ve been doing yoga and inversions before pregnancy, continuing with inversions is very safe and beneficial for you provided you practice with a certified yoga expert, especially for prentatal yoga.”
If you are wondering about the benefits of inversions, she adds, “Inversions help with streamlining your digestion, and blood circulation. When you’re pregnant, your hormones make up changes and inversions help release happy hormones.”
While highlighting the benefits of yoga during pregnancy, she cautions, “Pregnancy is not the time to try new things like this and if you don’t have a practice already, please don’t start when you’re pregnant. Keeping healthy and fit during your pregnancy is very important for your physical and mental health during and after you give birth. Yoga has so many benefits for pregnant women if done right and under supervision.”
To know more details about inversions during pregnancy, Health Shots got in touch with Dr Ganga Anand (PT), Child Birth Educator, Obs and Gynae, Artemis Hospitals. Here’s what she said!
“An inversion is any position where the heart is higher than the head. Many people advise not to do yoga inversions while you’re pregnant, but then you see videos and pictures of these amazing supermoms, you may want to try them out too.”
Most of the time when people ask if inversions are safe during pregnancy, they talk about the more complex inversions like Adho Mukha Vraksasana (handstand), Salambasana (headstand), Pincha Mayurasana (forearm stand), and Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), she adds.
Are inversions safe to perform during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is not a time to start an inversion practice, if these poses were not a part of your regular practice before conception. Taking up a handstand practice mid-pregnancy is as bad as putting someone on ice skates and taking them to a skating rink for the first time.
“Also, with the hormones produced during pregnancy (relaxin), women’s joints and ligaments are more at risk of injury as they adjust to the new centre of gravity. Therefore, inversions should only be done by women who have an established inversion practice, know their limits, and have experience and expertise in getting up and down from their inversions safely,” adds Dr Anand.
Some of the benefits of doing inversions are:
1. Calms the nervous system
2. Lengthens the torso
3. Energizes you and helps improve your circulation
4. Decreases the chances of varicose veins
5. Helps in curing chronic back pain, which is a common problem during pregnancy
6. Provides relief from indigestion
7. Helps to improve sleep patterns
A few tips to keep in mind before taking up inversions during pregnancy are:
1. “Pregnancy is not the right time to start new yoga poses that require more experience and confidence. So, if you have never tried yoga inversions before, do not start it during your pregnancy,” shares Dr Anand.
2. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is usually elevated and the muscles, ligaments, tissues are all relaxed to accommodate the changes in the body, due to pregnancy. The chances of hurting yourself while performing yoga inversions are much higher. So, be very cautious!
3. Do not continue with the yoga inversion poses, if you feel uneasy. Your body will usually give you signs if it is under distress. So, listen to it properly.
4. Just to be safe, the mamas who can perform inversions must hold the pose for no longer than about 5 breaths at a time, especially when they inch towards the end of their pregnancies.