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Did You Make a Pregnancy Fitness Resolution?

Perhaps one of the most common New Year’s resolution themes is related to being more fit…and I hope all my pregnant readers are striving to stay fit.  Exercise during pregnancy may reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes, may reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia,  and may even help in pushing efforts during labor.  If that isn’t enough, Fit Pregnancy has an article listing 33 benefits to exercise during pregnancy.  So if you have chosen to put physical activity on your New Year’s resolution list…this week I’m hoping to offer you some guidance on home exercise programs by reviewing some prental fitness DVD’s.

Today is a gentle start with Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea .  The description for this DVD includes an approximate run time of 70 minutes and says

Focussed on helping you feel comfortable, relaxed and fit during pregnancy, this workout will increase your energy and stamina, and build strength, flexibility and balance….The gentle stretches help reduce fatique, tension and tightness, while promoting relaxation and improved circulation.”

So, set to work on my own resolution to exercise more, I popped this DVD in, and let it go.  There are two choices at the main menu, one to start the exercise program, and one called “interview.”  I assume this is an interview with Shiva Rea, I did not watch it.

The exercise segment started with a very good intro explaining the program and introducing Shiva and the 2 models who appeared with her in the program.  Each woman was intended to be an example of how the exercises should be done in a specific pregnancy trimester, and each woman wore a single primary color leotard to help her stand apart.  Shiva performed the 1st trimester exercises, while appropriately pregnant models displayed the second and third trimester modifications.  The introduction explained that the exercise program is divided into segments that can easily be utilized as stand alone programs, or all of the segments can be combined for a longer work out.  A relaxation segment is at the end, and it was recommended to be used every time the program is used.  The introduction lasted approximately 4 1/2 minutes, and could be easily by-passed by moving ahead one “track” on the DVD.

I have done some yoga before as a part of a longer aerobic program, but I have never done a full aerobic class, so I didn’t know quite what to expect.  In my case, I really would have liked a more vigorous workout, which this was not.  I think this program would be a nicely calming activity to do at the end of a day.

Right away I have to admit that I was getting annoyed by Shiva’s pronounciation of “exhale” as a very exaggerated “ex-ale.”  Since “in-hale” and “ex-ale” was virtually all that was being said near the beginning of the program, I was a bit concerned that I would be anything BUT relaxed by the end.  But I did find that as the program continued I focussed less and less on the mispronounciation.  There were also some other small annoyance points near the beginning, but I really don’t think I would have noticed them if I hadn’t been hyper-focussed on every detail to write a review.  We moved through a series of very simple yoga positions that I was familiar with, and at times my 3 year old Sophie joined in on the fun.

Over all I felt that the program, which ended up being about 50 minutes of yoga, could be beneficial for developing flexibility, though I’m not so sure about the “strength” claim from the product description beyond a bit of strength from the squats (the benefit of the short pelvic exercise set is probably minimal at best).  It certainly could be very calming and meditative.  I was a bit confused about why there was a perceived need to modify the exercises for 2nd and 3rd trimester, as I have previously done all of the exercises fully in my third trimester.  Particularly I wondered why a woman in her third trimester would be advised not to perform the squat position, but rather sit on a chair, and why a woman in her third trimester was advised at one point not to raise both hands over-head, but rather to just raise one hand at a time (but then later when a very similar stretch is performed the third trimester model raised both hands).  At one point I actually stopped the DVD and “rewound” it because I thought Shiva said that women in their 3rd trimester had limited flexibility (which is exactly opposite of the truth–in the third trimester women have increased joint flexibility, though may be more cumbersome due to the expanding belly), but what she really said was that women in their “3rd trimester or with limited flexibility” should make a particular modification.  In the end, I felt her “trimester” modifications really should just be suggestions for women who feel their balance or flexibility does not allow them to do the exercises as shown by Shiva, which could mean that a first trimester woman just starting out would be using the third trimester modifications, while a woman who has been doing the work out all along may easily do the unmodified postures at 40 weeks.  Of course I’m not particularly flexible, and I could perform all of the positions without using the modifcations.


The relaxation segment was only about 5 minutes long, I was hoping for more like 15 minutes.  Different positions were advised for the 3 trimesters-laying prone propped on blankets and pillows for the first trimester, side-lying with a maternity pillow between the legs in the second trimester, and side-lying with the top leg propped up on the chair and lower leg under the chair for third trimester.  I immediately thought the first trimester position looked to create an uncomfortable arch in the back, and sure enough, when I tried to mimic it I found it very uncomfortable.  Similarly, I wondered about the comfort of the third trimester position and I did find that the raised leg rested uncomfortably on the front edge of the chair.  The second trimester position was comfortable, but I would more recommend the “runner’s pose” advocated by The Bradley Method, where the top leg comes foward of the bottom leg, producing a slight forward lean to the hips and shoulders.

You will need a folded blanket and a chair to do this workout, and possibly a yoga block and yoga strap.  On an intensity scale of 0 being sitting on your couch and 10 being running a marathon, this workout measures in somewhere around 3.

What did you do to stay fit during pregnancy?

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Posted in Book/Movie Reviews and Home 7 years, 2 months ago at 1:04 am.

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