YOGA NATIONAL September 2015

Nine-Month Yoga Challenge for Two!

Book Review

Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga: Step-By-Step Prenatal Guide for Mothers-To-Be

Author: Rajashree Choudhury

Available on Amazon and as an eBook on Amazon Kindle

Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga is a must-read for expecting mothers, fathers, yoga teachers, yoga practitioners, integrative health professionals, OBGYN and physicians. It is also a great book for high school health and physical fitness teachers and personal trainers.

Yoga practitioners often talk about 30 and 60-day challenges in the yoga community, but the women who practice through a nine-month pregnancy face even more daunting challenges as they adapt postures with changes to their hormones and body.

Rajashree Choudhury's "Yoga Pregnancy: Step-By- Step Prenatal Guide for Mothers-To-Be" offers tips, techniques and modifications, without heat, for pregnant women to complete the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises in the "hot" yoga series designed by her husband Bikram Choudhury.

Rajashree Choudhury is a yoga champion and mother of two with a son, Anurag who is 22 years old, and a daughter, Laju, who is 25 years old. Her pregnancy series of yoga postures can be done with, or without, the heat. The text was developed and updated from the original DVD she released with the birth of her son. She offers modifications to postures and diet to accommodate the changes in hormones that affect a woman's practice during pregnancy.

"With guidance from my by
gynecologists, Dr. Das,
Emmy Cleaves, and, of
course, Bikram, the
alterations I developed -
with no heat - became a
convenient series that can be
practiced at home,” said Rajashree Choudhury. "Heat is not used, and is not required, because it is a very light sequence."

Although the series can be practiced without heat, the yoga in a heated ambient room should not pose the same risks for maternal or fetal complications (i.e. neural tube development) as a hot tub, or extreme heated circumstances, according to the author.

With 15 years in the East and 25 years in the West practicing and teaching yoga, Rajashree is a five- time winner of the National Yoga Championship of India from 1979 to 1983. She holds a Certificate in Hatha Yoga Therapy for chronic diseases and disorders. Born in Kolkatta, India, she is a visionary and woman of deep compassion who has practiced

yoga since the age of 4 years old.

Prenatal yoga can reduce anxiety, stress and induce relaxing sleep by reducing cortisol levels and stress hormones in the blood,

YOGA NATIONAL September 2015

according to Choudhury.

Rajashree

Other benefits include: increased strength, flexibility and endurance for the muscles and joints used in childbirth, toxins expelled from the body, regulation of blood pressure and sugar levels, regulation of hormones and emotions, improved circulation and reduction of edema and water retention, improved posture and reduced back pain, decreased risks associated with preterm labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension and intrauterine growth restriction - a condition that can slow a baby's growth.

Not only does the author cover postures and modifications, but the text discusses the four essential aspects of yoga: asanas, or postures, breathing or pranayama, mudras (gestures) and bhandas (locks) which have psychophysical stimulation and powerful effects on women's reproductive organs and deep relaxation.

YOGA NATIONAL September 2015

"Blood glucose levels of pregnant women decrease during exercise more rapidly than usual."

~ Rajashree Choudhury

A few of the modifications included in the series are separation of the feet to hip-width in pranayama breathing to provide for greater balance, the use of a wall for stability and balance in eagle posture and bow posture, cautions in triangle and many other postures to avoid sinking too low in the flexibility of the hip.

"Be careful not to overstretch by sinking too deep into the flexibility of the hip because the hormone relaxin, which is produced by pituitary gland, helps the uterus expand which effects all connective tissue in the body," said Rajashree Choudhury.

"Work your way through the postures, but do not over do it! Tomorrow is another day and you can continue to work through the programs,” she cautions.

Pregnancy is not a time for athleticism, according to Choudhury. She encourages Savasana (Dead Body Pose) lying on the left side of the body ONLY to avoid pressure on the vena cava artery that reduces blood flow to the brain and uterus and which can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Half Fish, Bridge, Kneeling Locust and Half Spine Twisting Poses are all modifications of floor postures offered in the text where the practitioner is usually positioned on their stomach in the Spine Strengthening Series portion of the Bikram series.

"Blood glucose levels of pregnant women decrease during exercise more rapidly than usual," said Rajashree Choudhury. "If exercising more than 30 minutes make sure to have a sugar fix on hand, such as hard candy or sport drink, which can be helpful to quickly raise blood sugar.

Staying hydrated is important to avoid a raise in body temperature since dehydration can cause contractions, Rajashree Choudhury cautions. As Always, drink water before, during and after exercising!”

The author credits Dr. Doreen Wiggins, MD at the Center for OB/GYN in Providence, Rhode Island, for her contributions to the medical and nutritional information in the book. In all cases, a yoga practitioner should consult their physician before beginning a yoga practice, or if they develop any problems in the course of their pregnancy or practice.

The updated Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga is a great addition to the yoga practitioner or teacher's bookshelf. It makes a great baby shower gift for the expectant mother and father to aid in the understanding and preparation for a new life. It also teaches how to maintain physical, emotional and spiritual well-being to nurture a healthy pregnancy and birth while speeding postpartum recovery for the new mother during and after the Nine Month Challenge!