Not all women treat their bodies like a temple. Before pregnancy, some women treat their bodies like a lean-to in a shantytown built from aluminum siding. When pregnancy happens, a lot of changes happen quickly. These same women shop at Whole Foods, develop a stance on GMOs, and become convinced that non-organic milk is to blame for “kids these days” going through early puberty. They cut out alcohol, coffee, and soda of all kinds. It’s almost as if they (not that I know any of them personally) are different people. It might have something to do with knowing there’s a kid inside of them sucking down whatever noxious substances they put in their mouths. There’s nothing like that to make you rethink a package of pink marshmallow sno-balls.

And thus, the popularity of prenatal yoga. Women who have never worked out a single day in their lives show up at the gym, brand new yoga mat and block in hand, ready to attend class and hold their breaths straight through their ninth month. These women know the positive benefits of yoga for pregnant women. They’ve researched them. They’ve indexed all of the articles they’ve read while waiting in line at Whole Foods. There is nobody more educated on how to be a good parent than a first-time pregnant mother-to-be.

Listen: maybe yoga will help you with a few things while being pregnant. If it calms your fears about pushing a watermelon out of your nether regions, then fantastic. The real secret though, is that the benefit of yoga practice doesn’t really kick in until that kid is out of you and driving your crazy in the real world. That’s when you really need it. That’s when you’ve got to figure out a strategy for getting back to your classes before two years pass you by. 

Allow me to explain:

First, the Physical

You get to look forward to a weakened pelvic floor. Remember the bit about the watermelon? There will be some related complications to this physics-defying feat you’ve just performed. “Kegels,” everyone will say. You will begin to think millions of people are performing Kegel exercises all around us, all the time. Go to yoga—it will help you, both with the Kegels, and with the weakened pelvic floor.

Next, the Emotional

It is hard to maintain a sense of self and battle postpartum depression. Pregnancy is a hormonal roller coaster. Many people develop postpartum depression after the baby is born. If this happens, you must see a doctor immediately. Practicing yoga can also help alongside a medical regimen. This is because yoga demands that you devote time to yourself. Once that baby comes into the world, he or she will take every last second of your time. Everything from that day forward is about the baby. The trick is, to keep both of you going, you must learn to make time for yourself as an active choice. Incorporating yoga into your daily life is one way of doing this. It will be difficult. You will have to ask somebody to help you—your partner, your friend, your family, or another caregiver. You must do it anyway. It is essential to the health of you and your baby.

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