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Pregnancy Yoga – Odaka Style

Edited by Teresa Pillan (Odaka teacher)

Always on the move, I approached yoga practice precisely during pregnancy. A period of profound changes, where the pregnant woman is naturally inclined to slow down her pace and shift her attention to listening to internal sensations. Today I practice and teach yoga, and have obtained certification in teaching and a master’s degree in prenatal yoga with the Odaka school. The Odaka style, characterized by fluid movement inspired by the motion of the ocean, can offer many benefits for those who wish to practice yoga during pregnancy. In Odaka, the transition from one pose to the next occurs using wave-like movements of the spine and joints, circular and gradual movements designed for the body’s biomechanics. The sequences take on the rhythm of an uninterrupted flow that helps release physical and emotional tensions.

Yoga practice in pregnancy is becoming increasingly popular and recommended even by doctors, both because it allows mothers-to-be to move while protecting the baby’s health and because of the benefits it can have on the baby’s overall health.

During a prenatal yoga session, expectant mothers can develop muscle tone and joint elasticity, avoid movements that can compress the abdomen and force the spine that is already under extraordinary strain, and relax by experimenting with specific techniques for consciously coping with pregnancy and childbirth.

According to the Odaka style, we can use wave movement to release tension in the spine in sitting, kneeling, and standing poses. With waves we can invite mothers-to-be to combine movement and breath, helping them to release muscle tension and move more freely. We can offer suggestions for postural balance to be used daily as pregnancy progresses; we will invite them to develop a sense of grounding on the floor, unwinding the spine gradually to rise from the bottom up and flexing the legs to lower themselves. In addition to the practice of asanas appropriate to the stage of pregnancy, prenatal yoga sessions include exercises to contract the pelvic floor to promote its tone and elasticity, allowing for faster delivery and better postpartum recovery of function.

yoga gravidanza
respirazione yoga gravidanza

Conscious Breathing

Breathing exercises should not be missing from Yoga practice during Pregnancy, offering pregnant women a tool to help them find balance and centering. With pranayama techniques, we can help them increase their breathing capacity, achieving greater oxygenation for the baby as well, releasing muscle tension, and calming the nervous system. Learning to breathe consciously will also be of great help in relieving pain and anxiety during labor and delivery. With the snake hissing breath we can offer mothers-to-be a tool they can use even after birth to put their baby to sleep; in fact, the hissing is reminiscent of the sounds made inside the womb and even midwives recommend its use to calm newborns.

From the first months of pregnancy, the baby can hear sound waves from the outside world and learn to recognize the mother’s voice, so we can use mantras and vocalizations to help mothers relax and connect with the baby. With vocalizations we learn to emit sound throughout breathing, women who have become accustomed since pregnancy to using them will be able to release tension during contractions through the use of voice.

“When the breath is labored the mind is also unstable. But when the breath calms down the mind does too and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one must learn to control the breath”.
[Hatha Yoga Pradipika]

Partner Yoga

We can propose exercises in the practice to be done in pairs, with a partner, or with a friend. Partner yoga poses are ideal for fostering connection through nonverbal language, allowing us to convey emotions through contact and breath, teaching us to support our partner and let go, relying on the emotional intelligence of the body. Experiences that mothers will live intensely to communicate with their baby, especially during his first months of life.

Pregnancy is a time when women naturally experience the union of body and mind; beginning to practice yoga is a beautiful gift that the mother-to-be can give herself to prepare for motherhood with serenity and awareness. Taking a prenatal yoga class will help expectant mothers feel union with their babies and share this transformative experience with other companions, with whom they can create a network that can support them emotionally before and after birth.

Living in full consciousness, slowing one’s pace

and savor every second and every breath,

that is enough.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

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