Yoga and Pilates can be a family affair. It’s not just for individuals, busy parents with kids can do it too. Yoga has many benefits for children. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. And it can improve their concentration, and sense of calmness and relaxation too. Kids can start practicing yoga as soon as they start to understand instructions and follow the teacher, usually at around the age of four years old. Many schools are now introducing yoga into their weekly timetable, and there are also lots of kids yoga classes across the UK.
Did you know there are yoga classes for babies too? Well, mother and baby classes at least. These classes are a great way to ease yourself back into exercising as a new mother, while bonding with your baby. The gentle moves are designed for mother and baby to do together, so you can bond while getting fitter. And it’s an excellent way of meeting other new parents too. Mother and baby yoga strengthens and tones your muscles, with focus on the muscles affected by giving birth; your tummy, pelvic floor, and back. Yoga can also improve sleep, help you relax, and improve your posture. And there are a whole host of benefits for your little ones. It will help to calm and relax them, while helping to develop their reflexes. It can help to improve their awareness of their surroundings and those around them too.
Can I do yoga and Pilates if I’m pregnant?
Yoga and Pilates are becoming more popular amongst pregnant women, so there’s no reason to stay away from either while you’re pregnant. Infact, both pregnancy yoga and pregnancy Pilates can have lots of benefits for mums-to-be. The traditional yoga and Pilates exercises are adapted to address specific concerns which appear during pregnancy, including:
- Pregnancy yoga can help you maintain good posture, even as your bump grows. Normally, your pelvis tips out of line during pregnancy, but yoga can help to minimise that to reduce discomfort.
- Both pregnancy yoga and Pilates can help to prepare your body for giving birth. They can help relieve back and pelvic pain, and can help relax you during your pregnancy.
Aim to do two sessions of strength-building exercise per week (as long as your doctor or midwife says it’s suitable for you), with at least one day rest between sessions. You should stick to low-intensity exercise, and be mindful of your breathing. Ensure your movements are slow and steady. And to protect your baby, you should not let your own body temperature rise too high, so avoid doing yoga or Pilates in a room that is too hot or humid (like Bikram yoga). After the first trimester, don’t exercise while you are lying on your back because the weight of your baby may push against your blood vessels and cut off supply to your baby or make you feel faint. Make sure you let your instructor know you are pregnant or choose a class designed specifically for pregnant women.
What are the best apps for practicing yoga and Pilates for beginners?
Yoga and Pilates are increasing in popularity every year. Not because they’re cool things to do, but because they have real health benefits too, and can have an incredible impact on your general well-being. While joining a class with a qualified instructor is great, many prefer to practise on their own so they can really switch off. This is where apps on our phone can come in useful. Here’s our choice for some of the best apps for those who want to practise on their own, but who need a little guidance and advice along the way from a pocket-sized instructor:
- Simply Yoga: This app features a whole host of workouts, with over 30 poses suitable for beginners. The tutorials feature video and audio which ease you into the correct position. And it’s totally free so you can see whether yoga is right for you without having to pay out for sometimes pricey subscriptions or classes.
- 5 Minutes Pilates Workout: As the name suggests, this app is a simple yet powerful free Pilates app that doesn’t require any fancy gym equipment. Grab your floor mat and open the app - it’s that simple! This is great for all levels, and especially those who are busy in their work-life and need a quick time-out during their day.
- Pocket Yoga: This app downloads everything to your phone, so there’s no need for a network connection. This is perfect for practicing outside. The sessions vary in difficulty and duration, so you’ll be able to find one to suit your ability and routine. It also walks you through every step of finding the correct posture and alignment for each move, making it the perfect app for beginners.
- Pilates - Home Fitness: Pull out your gym mat and get ready to do a series of movements that will stabilise and strengthen your core. You’ll get stronger, more sculpted muscles, and gain flexibility. And you can also work to have better posture and an improved sense of well-being. It also has a strong mind/body connection, so you may like it if you enjoy yoga but need a more intense core workout.
- Yoga Studio: This app has a prenatal section, making it perfect for expectant mothers. It's designed to help your body support the healthy growth of the baby, while also encouraging the little one to move further away from the ribcage to allow for easier breathing. But you don’t have to be pregnant to use it. There are 65 classes included which will suit just about anyone of any level. You can choose an area you want to focus on, whether that be relaxation or balance, and you’ll find something to suit.
Yoga and Pilates are great for your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to make it to a class. Fortunately, you can practise and reap all the benefits from the comfort of your own home by downloading an easy-to-use yoga or Pilates app. Now there really is no excuse!