Homegrown with Hope: Prenatal yoga to ease pregnancy discomfort

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Prenatal yoga instructors at Transitions Yoga in Bismarck are helping women move through the ebb and flow of pregnancy.

From the growing of their bodies, to the tightening of their skin, and in the highs of expectations to the lows of hormone fluctuations, practicing yoga helps them find balance.

"The swelling in the legs, the loose hips, any of that instability, the uncomfortable belly with the changes and the low back pain. It just helps with anything that makes you uncomfortable when you're pregnant," certified prenatal yoga instructor Stephanie Strand said.

She leads pregnant women through a practice that helps women build the tools they'll use to continue their pregnancies, to have a natural childbirth and to enter motherhood.

Strand says strengthening the lower body through yoga is particularly helpful when labor kicks in and when it's time to push. She also teaches women about the importance of breathing techniques.

"One of the things we practice is pranayama, which is breath work. It's so nice because we continue it throughout their whole pregnancy. So, by the time we get to labor and delivery, they have this amazing breath that can assist them with the contractions," Strand explains.

Even if the challenges are physical or emotional, she encourages women to meet on the mat to find space to work through them. Stephanie, herself, is proof there is peace to be found between those four corners. After losing some pregnancies, she began training to help other pregnant women through their practice.

"You live through it and you become stronger. It was a really amazing training. I couldn't have asked for something more in that stage of my life."

Now, her practice is made up of more than poses to build strength and flexibility, she's teaching others to love their bodies through all the transitions life can bring.

"It's that safe space if you need to come and you need to cry. Or maybe you just need to be alone. Or maybe you just need to come and curl up with a blanket and a pillow and just lay there for the whole session. That's totally fine," she said.

Instructors recommend pregnant women stay away from heated yoga and deep back-bends or twists. Otherwise, they say a yoga practice can virtually be carried through most of a pregnancy. They recommend practicing with an educated instructor.