Sun – the ultimate source of life on Earth, and the ultimate source of energy for all beings. Offering prayers to Sun has been followed by many, many civilisations. The yogic sequence of Surya Namaskar with asanas and synchronised breathing has many benefits for the body as well as the mind. Staying healthy and fit during pregnancy is a priority on every mom-to-be’s list. But are you wondering if Surya Namaskar during pregnancy a safe bet? Do the asanas grouped in Sun Salutation safe to be done during pregnancy? Are there benefits? What are the possible risks? Let’s try to understand everything about Sun Salutation during pregnancy.
Prenatal Surya Namaskar – Is it safe?
In our country, yoga has always been recommended to pregnant women. Yoga has immense benefits not only for the body, but the mind, soul and mental faculties on the whole. Surya Namaskar is one of the prime yogic sequence that offers work-out for the whole of the body, calms your mind, fills you with gratitude towards the Sun, and improves your blood circulation and helps strengthen your joints.
Surya Namaskar can be comfortably started during the first trimester of pregnancy, and continued during the second trimester as well. It may not be completely possible to do the asanas during the late third trimester when the body becomes heavier and bulky.
You can start Surya Namaskar before pregnancy as well, to improve your chances of conceiving.
What are the benefits of Prenatal Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar is a group of asanas with coordinated movements, breathing, and awareness that promotes your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. You need not go anywhere to do Sun Salutation Yoga, and can safely include it in your self-care pregnancy routine that will prepare you for childbirth and life as a mother. Let us discuss some of the most popular benefits of Surya Namaskar during pregnancy.
1. Improved blood flow
Maternal blood flow is the ultimate source of nutrition and oxygen for the fetus. An improved blood flow implies the baby is getting oxygen and other nutrients for optimum growth and development. An improved blood flow during pregnancy also helps eliminate the waste products from the womb.
Surya Namaskar is a combination of asanas involving deep breathing – both inhalation and exhalation. Breathing techniques couples with yogic poses boosts blood flow and promotes oxygen in the blood, thus keeping the fetus healthy.
2. Keeps stress at a bay
Physical or emotional, stress is detrimental to pregnancy, especially one that continues for a long time. Health issues such as high blood pressure and heart diseases etc. can surface due excessive stress during pregnancy. Stress can induce pregnancy complications such as premature delivery, premature labour, low birth-weight baby and other issues.
Surya Namaskar with its unique combination of yogic asanas combats hormonal fluctuations and fights stress. The sluggish hormonal glands get a boost, the breathing sequences calm your mind and make you feel better about yourself and the pregnancy.
3. Helps with backaches and leg cramps
As your body prepares itself for carrying the baby, the secretion of the hormone relaxin gets increased, giving you frequent muscular pains in the legs. Additionally, the back has to support the growing weight and backaches are quite common during the gestation period.
Surya Namaskar can help in alleviating back pain, thanks to the cohesion of the asanas together. The unique postures also strengthen the core leg and back muscles giving you relief from constant muscular discomforts. However, to get the benefits, guidance from an experienced yoga teacher is a must.
4. Maintains pregnancy weight gain
Though weight gain during pregnancy is inevitable, you need to ensure that you gain healthy weight that supports your pregnancy. Too much weight gain during pregnancy results in various complications and forms a basis for a difficult childbirth.
With regular practice of Surya Namaskar, you work your whole body, the bends and stretches making up for a good physical exercise. This helps to keep your weight gain under control, keep you in shape and your weight worries can be put to rest.
5. Checks pregnancy mood swings
Pregnancy mood swings are a result of hormonal imbalance in the body due pregnancy induced hormones. Pregnant women may cry at the drop of a hat, or feel elated for no apparent reason.
Surya Namaskar helps in combating frequent mood swings by positively influencing the endocrine system and restoring hormonal balances.
6. You feel energised
Well, when your body is working overtime to provide for your baby, it is but natural to feel drained out and tired when pregnant. Since all your energy is being used to flourish the pregnancy, exhaustion can make you feel sluggish and worn out.
With Surya Namaskar, the body feels a renewed sense of energy and you feel more in control of your body. As the body, mind and breath get connected your energy levels get a boost and you feel much calmer and relaxed.
7. Calms your mind to help you embrace pregnancy changes
Pregnancy is such a roller coaster ride! So many changes take place on a daily basis once you get pregnant. From what you eat, to how to dress, from what you feel to how you express – everything around you changes completely. It can be quite overwhelming at times, anxiety can take over and you may feel completely annoyed.
To calm a restless mind and to make you feel more in control of your life practice Surya Namaskar daily. Not only will you feel better to deal with these temporary changes, you may also embrace them with warmth and love. For your mind will be relaxed and calm and you will be better in control of your life.
8. Combats pregnancy induced hypertension
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg. Hypertension during pregnancy can spell many complications such as early labour and low weight of the baby. Though it is not always dangerous but elevated blood pressure can pose some serious health risks for the mother and the growing fetus.
To keep your blood pressure from elevating too high, practice Surya Namaskar on a regular basis. As your heart gets strengthened, the cardiovascular system takes a boost thus maintaining optimum blood pressure.
9. Prepares you for childbirth
Labor pain during delivery is dreaded, and though every woman may be capable of it, it can still be a scary and painful experience. Practicing Surya Namaskar regularly during your pregnancy can ease the labour pain and help you have a quicker delivery. Additionally, since you have been doing the asanas, your body is more flexible and your mind more relaxed – two vitals of having a normal delivery.
10. Boosts overall well-being and health
Surya Namaskar is beneficial not just for the baby, but you as well. Practicing Sun Salutation during pregnancy keeps your mood uplifted, your body disease free and your mind calm and composed. You experience a sharp sense of awareness and your whole body is toned and becomes flexible. Other benefits of Surya Namaskar include a glowing, radiant skin, healthy hair, improved coordination and development of intuition.
While it may not pose any difficulty to follow the steps of Surya Namaskar during the first and early second trimester of pregnancy, you may need to modify the asanas as your belly grows bigger and the body expands. Modified Surya Namaskar also offers immense benefits and you can also skip the steps that are hard for you or feel uncomfortable.
Modified Surya Namaskar for pregnancy
While Sun Salutation is a great workout for both body and mind, connecting the both, yet pregnancy is not the time to get into something rigorous- not even yoga. For instance, laying on your stomach is not advisable once the uterus grows upwards and outwards. Also, you may feel uncomfortable when doing the upward dog pose as the round ligaments of the abdomen feel the stress. It is best to listen to your body and not do anything that does not feel comfortable.
Some yoga teachers feel using the chair when performing a Surya Namaskar is the best alternative for pregnant women. If you do use a chair, make sure the chair is aligned with a wall so that it does not fall and you don’t lose your balance. Instead of the forward fold coming down to the floor, you can bring your hands down to the chair and step back from there into a high lunge.
Similarly, depending on how much strength you have and how far comfortable you feel, you can the steps that involve the plank, knees/chest/chin, and the cobra could all be modified with the hands on the front of the chair
While this may seem easy, it is highly recommended that you take proper training to do regular and modified Surya Namaskar when pregnant- as you wouldn’t want any injury or harm to yourself as well as the baby.
Precautions to take for Surya Namaskar during pregnancy
Well, the fact that pregnancy is a delicate phase and anything to do with it needs utmost care and precautions cannot be ruled out. So here are some precautions that you must take when starting with Sun Salutations during pregnancy.
1. Discuss it with your doctor, especially if you are a first timer
Even you have already been practicing Surya Namaskar before getting pregnant; it is a wise thing to talk about continuing it with your doctor. Certain pregnancy complications may not permit you to carry the ritual on, so a healthy discussion with your doctor is a must. Needless to say, if you have just started it, take your doctor’s advice on how to begin and what should you be careful of.
2. Start slow and be gentle
You may be excited at making Surya Namaskar your pregnancy workout, but hold on and remember pregnancy is a very sensitive phase. No matter how rigorously you followed it earlier, you need to be gentle with yourself and start slow. Pregnancy is not the time to strain your body in any way.
3. Take professional guidance
Yoga involves techniques that synchronise breathing and asanas. To effectively benefit from the practice of Sun Salutation, train yourself under a professional yoga trainer. It is very important to do the asanas correctly. Additionally, he or she will be able to help you with modified prenatal Surya Namaskar steps as well.
4. Make it a regular daily practice
Well, to get all the benefits associated with Surya Namaskar, you need to practice it in a regular fashion. Random practice will not be fruitful.
5. Always end with Shavasana
Shavasana is an important aspect of the practice, as it releases stress, fatigue, depression and tension and helps you gain focus. Corpse Pose or Death Pose (mrtasana) as it is also known as is perhaps the easiest yoga asana but the most difficult to master.
Should you want to include Surya Namaskar as a prenatal exercise, make sure you take expert guidance and be well-aware of any physical discomfort. Discontinue if you feel any ache, pain or anything else that may not feel comfortable.
Have a safe and healthy pregnancy.