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Mother's Day fitness guide: Is yoga safe during pregnancy?

Give the new mom-to-be Amy Griffith's "Active Prenatal Yoga" DVD this Mother's Day.
Kimberly Wolff Photography

Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Whether you’re a new mom-to-be with your first pregnancy or third, staying healthy, fit and active is of utmost importance. Amy Griffith, former Radio City Rockette, prenatal fitness expert and star of the workout DVD, “Active Prenatal Yoga," answered detailed questions surrounding yoga and pregnancy in an exclusive interview with the Women’s Style Examiner on Tuesday.

Amy Griffith was more than eager to offer her expertise on yoga during pregnancy, so much so, that for the sake of easier reading, her answers have been shortened to fit this piece. The Erie, Pennsylvania native is a former professional dancer, having spent three seasons with the famed Radio City Rockettes, appeared in the Broadway hit musical "42nd Street" as well as the national tour of “Spamalot.”

The nationally certified prenatal yoga instructor devotes her life to health and fitness and discovered the multitude of benefits yoga provides for moms-to-be and their unborn children. Amy Griffith provides free advice, support and motivation to her dedicated swarm of followers and fans that also includes video clips and eBooks.

Since 2009 Amy Griffith has taught yoga. The fitness guru birthed both of her babies at home, which is when she discovered how powerful and beneficial yoga is. According to Amy, yoga not only benefitted her body, but her mind and spirit as well.

The physical practice of yoga strengthened my body and the mental practice of yoga prepared me for the larger lesson of ‘letting go.’ I let go of fear and doubt. I let go of tension, and I completely trusted the process. All I needed to do was step out the way and let my body do exactly what it knew how to do, birth my baby! I love supporting, educating, inspiring and empowering women on their own unique journey into motherhood.

As someone who currently practices yoga, the Women’s Style Examiner is fully aware of yoga’s physical demands and the exhilaration and inner peace the workout brings, but wanted to know if Amy would suggest yoga for a pregnant woman who has never practiced it before. The prenatal yoga instructor would, however Amy has a few important tips for first timers who haven’t done yoga before getting pregnant.

First and foremost, she must listen to her body and honor what does not feel comfortable or safe within her range of motion, level of strength, etc. Prenatal yoga offers poses that are modified for mom's changing body.

Griffith says props are used to support the pregnant woman to move comfortably as baby grows within her, but she will need to be mindful of moving at a gentle pace and not to overexert. There are a plethora of benefits from some of the standard strengthening and stretching pose of yoga, which include relief of many common irritations caused by pregnancy such as low back pain, headaches, swelling, and sciatica to name a few. The unborn child reaps yoga rewards as well through simple breathing and the focusing of positive energy to baby. Additionally, Amy says moms experience postpartum benefits through the practice of prenatal yoga.

Mom will benefit from this greater sense of peace by taking the time to slow down, trusting her body and all of its incredible capabilities. Prenatal yoga offers physical and emotional balance for mom as baby, and her body, grow and change. It is a unique, physical workout that develops mom's connection to baby in such a beautiful way.

Although Amy currently is the go-to prenatal fitness guide, she hopes to create a mommy and baby workout DVD someday or perhaps different types of yoga workouts for children as they grow. According to Griffith, mothers can practice yoga with newborns as early as six weeks. Moms can perform downward facing dog or hold plank poses over the baby, which reinforces the face-to-face connection babies’ love. As children grow they could learn basic balancing poses and the importance of deep breaths, as Amy taught her two-year-old son when he’d get upset. Children will mirror the parent’s behavior, good or bad, so make positive, healthy choices.

Children love imitating what they see their parents do, so practice yoga, run, bike and dance with them! They will intuitively become more active with you.

Pick up Amy Griffith’s “Active Prenatal Yoga” workout DVD for the expectant mom you love, and giver her and the unborn baby the gift of health this Mother’s Day. Amy is truly inspirational and a wealth of health and fitness information.

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