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The benefits of prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga classes are very popular, and when paired with a cardiovascular exercise (such as walking), yoga can be an ideal way for moms-to-be to stay in shape. Whether you're a newbie or a veteran, yoga can keep you limber, tone your muscles, and improve your balance and circulation during pregnancy – all with very little impact on your joints.

Yoga is also beneficial because you'll learn how to breathe deeply and consciously relax, which will be helpful as you face the physical demands of labor, birth, and new motherhood. Learning to breathe fully is actually one of the first things you'll learn in a yoga class. To use the breathing technique practiced in yoga, known as ujjayi, you take in air slowly through your nose, fill your lungs as you expand your belly, and exhale completely until your stomach compresses.

Learning to do ujjayi breathing primes you for labor and childbirth by training you to stay calm when you need it most. When you're in pain or afraid, your body produces adrenalin and may produce less oxytocin, a hormone that makes labor progress. A regular yoga practice will help you resist the urge to tighten up when you feel pain, and make it easier to relax instead.

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