Want an Easier Pregnancy? Grab That Yoga Mat

Getty Images If you were able to overlook Alec Baldwin’s angry outbursts, random Twitter rants, and fights with paparazzi, you would have noticed that his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, was the picture of peaceful bliss throughout her pregnancy earlier this year. The reason? She did yoga.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Baldwin, a 29-year-old yoga instructor who gave birth to daughter Carmen Gabriela five weeks ago, said, "When I had aches and pains in the middle of the night, I'd just get out of bed and stretch."

She’s not the only recognizable face to tout the benefits of the 3,000-year-old practice. Celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bündchen, and Ali Larter swore by prenatal yoga throughout their pregnancies.

So what’s the secret to making the whole process of pregnancy, labor, and delivery much easier for mommies-to-be? Shine asked some yoga experts to weigh in on how pregnant women of all fitness levels can exponentially ease their anxiety and discomfort all the way through the little one's arrival.

Stephanie Creaturo, a yoga instructor and co-owner of Mala Yoga studio in Brooklyn, New York, says the first and most important step is to find a studio with prenatal yoga teachers. “You should definitely have an assessment by an instructor who has been through a birth,” she says. “They have the best expertise on the pregnancy process.”

As in any fitness environment, there will be mothers who are more active than others, and for newbies, Debra Flashenberg, Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center in New York City, recommends starting off slow. “Don’t overdo it in the beginning,” she says. “Some people want to immediately start off with four or five days a week, but if you’re just starting yoga, try once a week, then build up to two to three times.”

Hilaria Baldwin and her new daughter. (Getty Images) Both instructors agree on the one pose that is a must-do for pregnant women: the Cat-Cow, a position where the person is on all fours while moving her spine from a rounded to arched position.  “It allows you to really stretch and release tension in the back,” Flashenberg says.

“You want to keep moving when you’re pregnant,” Creaturo tells Shine. “Cat-Cow, modified Downward Facing Dog and supported squats with blocks are great exercises to build strength and prepare your body for birth.”

But what about preparing the mind?  For hormonal pregnant women, anxiety, nervousness and overall panic can rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times.

“There’s a lot of new stuff happening at once when you’re pregnant,” Creaturo says. “One day you can feel great, the next you feel terrible. Deep breathing without straining the diaphragm is a great way to ease the anxiety producing energy that comes with pregnancy.”

At Flashenberg’s studio, mantras have also been an effective tool. “You want to get your body to a restful and relaxed state,” she says. “Counting while breathing and our ‘Let-Go’ mantra where you inhale ‘Let’ and exhale ‘Go’ keeps the mind focused.”

For most expectant mothers, as long as a physician or midwife gives the thumbs-up, prenatal yoga is safe to practice right until it’s time to give birth. And both Creaturo and Flashenberg recommend yoga after the pregnancy too. “As a new mom, we tend to put our physical health second,” Creaturo says. “But as soon as you get cleared, you should definitely come back to keep up the relaxation and balance.”

Perhaps somebody will offer post-natal classes to calm down daddies like Alec Baldwin.