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While there are no studies and little data available, Colette Crawford, a nurse and yoga teacher who has made several instructional videos for the practice of prenatal and postnatal yoga, says the number of women practicing yoga during pregnancy is definitely growing: Just three pregnant moms attended her first prenatal yoga class in 1990. Now she sees more than 300 a week.
Crawford trained 40 prenatal yoga teachers in 2002 – a tenfold increase from 1998 – and expects to teach even more this year.
Using props such as chairs, walls, bolsters, blocks, wedges, blankets, neck pillows and eyebags, yoga studio owner Devorah Blum leads pregnant women through stretches and poses that she says help alleviate back pain, sciatica, nausea, swelling hands and feet, insomnia and general stress. Other stretches help strengthen the pelvic floor for childbirth and prevent the loss of bladder control when muscles are weakened in pregnancy and delivery, according to Blum.
A yoga practitioner since age 16, Blum naturally turned to yoga during her first pregnancy and labor because the yoga breath kept her calm, while the flexibility she gained from yoga helped her body open at the hips. Even more helpful was the confidence yoga gave her to take her body to its limits.