Pranayama During Pregnancy


pranayama during pregnancy

Did you know that Pranayama can help you to deal with discomforts, stress during pregnancy and the pain while giving birth? 

Pranayama during pregnancy is a safe practice you can do with a little guidance. The three most reliable Pranayama techniques during pregnancy are Nadi Shoddanna, Ujjayi and Bhramari Pranayama. Before starting a Pranayama practice during pregnancy, always check with your doctor. Keep safe during your Pranayama practice.

Pregnancy is a sensitive time when your emotions can get out of balance. You will be experiencing lots of changes in your body, and things will also change in your family environment.

It is natural to be overwhelmed and stressed. Pranayama can help you to calm your mind, release stress and be mindful of your emotions.


What is Pranayama?

The word Pranayama comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Prana and Yama’. Prana means life force and Yama control.

Another meaning of Pranayama comes from Prana or life force and Ayama, which means expansion and extension. So, you can understand Pranayama breathing as the control of the life force or the development of the life force through the breath. 

The practice of Pranayama breathing brings awareness to your body and mind. If you learn to control your breathing with Pranayama, you will be able to unblock stagnant energy in your body. 


What are Pranayama breathing techniques? 

Pranayama breathing techniques consist of cycles of inhalation, exhalation, internal breath retention and external breath retention. 

Pranayama controls the Prana or life energy in the body. So, let’s have a look at what is Prana. You can think of Prana as the sum of all energy manifested in the Universe, either life or inert.

Prana is the movement, the vibration in everything that exists. For example, energy like heat, electricity, magnetism are all manifestations of Prana. But also, your mental energy is Prana. 

By controlling your breath, you can to influence the flow of Prana through your body.  There are two main ways you can get Prana into your body, through food and breathing. Every time you breath Prana energy flows into your body through 72000 channels of energy called Nadis. 


Pranayama during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a blessing that brings new life to the world. During pregnancy, you will experience physical and emotional changes that can be very upsetting.

Stress, anxiety, and depression are common during pregnancy. Having these conditions is understandable due to the worries, uncertainties, and hormonal changes happening to your body. Pranayama can help you to deal with them.

Start practising during pregnancy under the guidance of a teacher that can advise you and guide you through a Pranayama,  Afterwards, you can practice by yourself at home.

Some Pranayamas are suitable for pregnancy. These Pranayamas have a calming and soothing effect, which helps you to have a more enjoyable pregnancy experience and provides a more beautiful environment for your baby to grow. 

Pranayama will help you to make a bond with your unborn baby. When you do Pranayama, your focus is on the breath, with every breath you calm and clear your mind and emotions. You create space to feel what is happening in your body, to connect with your mother instinct to tell you what to do. 

Practising Pranayama during pregnancy will help you in all areas of your life. It will provide a substantial emotional and mental foundation for childbirth.


Nadi Shodanna Pranayama during pregnancy

Nadi Shodhana is an alternate nostril breathing. Nadi Shodhana means purification of the energy channels. “Nadi” means an energy channel and “Shodhana” means cleaning or purification. 

You can practice Nadi Shodhana in the morning or the evening. Just make sure you haven’t eaten anything for at least one hour and a half. 

How to do Nadi Shoddhana during pregnancy?

  • Choose a place where you can be undisturbed during the Pranayama practice.
  • Practice Pranayama on an empty stomach 
  • Sit comfortably on a chair or a cushion on the floor. If you find it challenging to keep your back straight sit against the wall. 
  • Close your eyes and take a moment to ground yourself. 
  • Take a deep and slow inhale, then exhale slow and gently. You can count from 1 to 5 on the inhale and again 1 to 5 on the exhale. Repeat at least three times. 

How to start Nadi Shoddana Pranayama

  • Rest both hands on your lap with your palms facing up. 
  • Bring your right hand in front of your face. 
  • Rest your index and middle finger in between your eyebrows at your third eye point. 
  • Place your right thumb on your right nostril. 
  • Inhale through your left nostril slow and gentle
  • Close your left nostril with your right ring finger
  • Remove your thumb from your right nostril and exhale slow and gentle.
  • Inhale through the right nostril
  • Close the right nostril with your thumb again 
  • Remove your ring finger from your left nostril and exhale 
  • Then start the cycle again, inhaling through the left nostril.
  • Repeat between 5 to 10 cycles (a cycle is one inhalation and exhalation). These cycles may take you between 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Once you complete the cycles, release your right hand to your lap. 
  • Breath through both nostril and notice your breathing.

Try to spend the same time in your inhalation and your exhalation. Counting can help you. Check if you can do inhalations and exhalations of 3 to 5 seconds.

If you can do longer than this, carry on, but never force yourself. You will develop your practice with time. 

5 Benefits Nadi Shoddhana brings during pregnancy:

  1. Quiet the mind and emotions
  2. Help with insomnia and sleeping problems. 
  3. Oxygenate the blood
  4. Balance the hormones in your body.
  5. Bring to balance the left and right hemisphere of your brain. 

Bhramari Pranayama During Pregnancy

Bhramari is a type of Pranayama that consists of the humming sound of a bee. For this reason, Bhramari Pranayama is known as Bee breath. 

How to do Bhramari Pranayama?

  • Choose a place where you can be undisturbed during the Pranayama practice.
  • Sit comfortably on a chair or a cushion on the floor with your back straight. If you find it challenging to keep your back straight sit against the wall. 
  • Close your eyes and take a moment to ground yourself. 
  • Take a deep and slow inhale, then exhale slow and gently. You can count from 1 to 5 on the inhale and again 1 to 5 on the exhale. Repeat at least three times. 

How to start Bhramari Pranayama 

  • Place each of your index fingers on your ears, applying gentle pressure.
  • Keep your lips slightly apart.
  • Inhale deeply through both nostrils into the abdomen.
  • Exhale slowly making the sound ‘hmm’ from the back of the throat.
  • Repeat the cycle of inhalation and exhalation 5 to 6 times.
  • You can increase the time as you develop your practice.

8 Benefits of Bhramari Pranayama During Pregnancy

  1. Reduces stress and insomnia
  2. Keeps the mind alert but calm
  3. Increases the flow of oxygen in the body
  4. Decreases blood pressure
  5. Improves concentration
  6. Helps with anxiety and depression
  7. Balance emotions and mood
  8. Relieves pain 

Ujjayi Pranayama During Pregnancy

Ujjayi Pranayama is also known as Cobra or Ocean breath because of the sound you make with your throat during the breathing.

You do Ujjayi Pranayama with both nostrils—practice Ujjayi Pranayama in the morning and evenings.

How to do Ujjayi Pranayama?

  • Choose a place where you can be undisturbed during the Pranayama practice.
  • Sit comfortably on a chair or a cushion on the floor with your back straight. If you find it challenging to keep your back straight sit against the wall. 
  • Close your eyes and take a moment to ground yourself. 
  • Take a deep and slow inhale, then exhale slow and gently. You can count from 1 to 5 on the inhale and again 1 to 5 on the exhale. Repeat at least three times. 

How to start Ujjayi Pranayama 

  • Rest both hands on your thighs with your palms facing up. 
  • Close your lips and breathe in and out through the nose.
  • Take a deep and slow inhale. During the inhale constrict the muscles of your throat. The air shouldn’t sound like a snored but like a hissing sound instead. 
  • Exhale slowly through both nostrils with the throat constricted. 
  • Repeat the cycle of inhalation and exhalation 5 to 10 times.
  • You can increase the time as you develop your practice.

10 Benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama During Pregnancy

  1. Helps with stress and insomnia
  2. Keeps the mind alert but calm
  3. Increases the flow of oxygen in the body
  4. Releases anger
  5. Reduces irritability
  6. Increases lung capacity
  7. Improves concentration
  8. Relieve headaches and sinus pressure
  9. Helps with anxiety and depression
  10. Enhances the mood

Pranayamas to avoid during pregnancy

Pranayama is a safe practice during pregnancy. But not all Pranayamas can be practised. You shouldn’t do Pranayamas that involve a lot of abdominal movement or produce a lot of heat in the body while pregnant.

Doing those Pranayamas may put you at risk, making you feel unwell or even damage to your unborn baby. 

Here is a list of the Pranayamas you must avoid during pregnancy:

  • Kapalabathi requires abdominal movement and increases heat in the body.
  • Breath of fire involves a lot of abdominal movement, produces a lot of heat and can make you light-headed. 
  • Bhastrika Pranayama that involves deep abdominal movement.
  • Plavini Pranayama unless you are already an advance practitioner
  • Practice little Surya Bhedi, which brings a lot of sun energy as it may unbalance you.

Things to remember when practising any Pranayama during pregnancy:

  • Don’t hold the breath in any Pranayama.
  • Don’t do any bandha during Pranayama.
  • Don’t do Pranayama straight after a meal.

Most importantly listen to your body, if you feel unsure about something or uncomfortable, don’t do it.

If you have a health condition or a high-risk pregnancy, check with your doctor and your Pranayama teacher before starting any Pranayama practice. 


Benefits of Pranayama during pregnancy

Practising Pranayama helps you gain control over your breathing. Breathing is usually done mechanically without thinking about it.

Your breath is mostly control by your emotions. What you may not know is that you can control your emotions through your breathing. 

The benefits of Pranayama during pregnancy are:

  • Establishes a regular breathing pattern.
  • Brings your body and mind in rhythm with nature.
  • Gives you a calmer state of mind.
  • Releases mental and emotional blocks.
  • Improves your cardiovascular health.
  • Regulates your blood pressure.
  • Improves mood swings.
  • Gives you more stamina and energy.
  • Gives you a clear and alert mind.
  • Connects to your unborn baby.
  • Reduces irritability.
  • Reduces anxiety and depression.
  • Improves concentration.
  • Relieves pain.
  • Boosts immunity

Conclusion

Now you know which Pranayamas are safer to practice during pregnancy and which ones to avoid. Practising Pranayama will help you to have a more enjoyable experience through your pregnancy and prepare you for childbirth.

Pranayama will strengthen your mind and regulate your emotions. You will connect to your motherly instinct and your baby. 

During pregnancy, you will notice a calmer and focused mind, a more profound sense of joy and peace, better metabolism and immunity.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pranayama safe during pregnancy?

Some Pranayamas are safe to perform during pregnancy, but others aren’t. Pranayamas with a calming and soothing effect is suitable for pregnancy. Pranayamas that produce a lot of energy or heat are not ideal for pregnancy. Read more

Can a pregnant woman do Kapalbhati?

Pregnant women shouldn’t do Kapalbati Pranayama or any other Pranayama that generates heat in the body or involves rapid abdominal movement. Read more

When to start Pranayama during pregnancy?

You can start practising Pranayama at any stage of your pregnancy. Read more

Is Pranayama good for pregnancy?

Pranayama will help you be calmer during your pregnancy, and it will prepare you for giving birth. Pranayama will help you deal better with contraction pain and birth pain. Read more

Which Pranayama is good during pregnancy?

Nadi Shoddana Pranayama is the best Pranayama you can do during pregnancy. It will bring balance to your whole body and keep your mind at ease. Read more

Can you do Pranayama while pregnant?

Pranayama is a technique that yogis practise on an everyday basis. When you have an in-depth practice, you have fewer side effects. Any healthy people can practise Pranayama. It doesn’t mean that if you have an ailment, you cannot practice it. But, the time of practice is longer. Read more

Maria Mendoza

Hi. I'm Maria. I am a Biologist and a Yoga instructor. I've created this blog to share my knowledge and experience with people interested in yoga and those who want to make yoga a part of their lives. Besides I promote and encourage an environmentally responsible yoga practice. Through my articles, you can learn how to begin Yoga and discover the meaning of Yoga. Learn about Asanas, Pranayamas, Mudras, Mantras and Bandhas. Start your Yoga practice today.

Recent Posts