Yoga And Ayurvedic Diet For Healthy Pregnancy
Diet and routine affect our lives more than they seem to. They are two axles of the vehicle of health which we are riding; each is independent of each other but also complementary; the rider is bound to suffer if either of the two axles is not working fine or taken care of.
Diet is a collective term for the net amount of food consumed by an individual based on their food preferences including taboos. A balanced diet is important for everyone – the elderly, the adults, the youngsters, the children, the neonates and most importantly – those whose bodies are still being formed inside the bodies of their mothers.
On the other hand, routine is a set of activities that are done without making any special efforts or imposed regularity. This is the reason why health-benefiting practices are advised constantly to be included in one’s routine.
An ayurvedic perspective can make it easier to understand what factors the physical constitution of the growing child depends on?
Doshic Constitution of Baby And Parents’ Body
Authors of various ayurvedic texts agree that the body constitution we have is determined by the dominance of tridosha i.e. three forces governing the universe. They are Vata (dry and light), Pitta (hot and flaring) and Kapha (moist and heavy). The dominance of the tridosha in a body is decided by the following factors:
- Dominant dosha at the time of conception; and
- Diet and routine of the mother.
1. Dominant Dosha At The Time of Conception
We cannot completely control or modify the first factor i.e. the dominant dosha at the time of conception, especially if the conception is spontaneous. However, if the pregnancy is well planned, chances are that the conception is also planned. If this is the case, both partners should start practicing healthy eating as soon as possible, and try to restore a healthy balance of the doshas. A balanced state of the tridosha can be achieved by following these steps:
- Dominant dosha should be determined first. One or two doshas can be dominant in an individual; one of them still being principal.
- If any dosha is aggravated to an extent that it is causing disease, it should be recognized by consulting a competent ayurvedic expert. The dosha that is dominant is the one aggravating first.
- All symptoms should be observed closely and then it should be recognized whether more than one doshas are aggravated.
- The couple should then get a custom diet chart for rectifying the imbalance of tridosha, and follow it strictly even if there are no major health conditions.
- They should then consult a yoga therapist in order to get prescribed with an integrated programme suiting their tridoshic needs.
- Both the partners should practice the modified diet and lifestyle strictly until conception.
In this way at least one determinant, i.e. the dominant dosha at the time of conception can be secured to its best possible condition; since not much of it is under human control.
2. Diet And Routine of The Mother
After conception i.e. when the baby’s body starts developing from a single living cell, the mother’s diet and routine are crucial in building or destroying the baby’s health. The body of the fetus (baby is called fetus when still in the womb) develops in the following phases:
Initially everything is fluid. Out of the fluid, blood forms. From the blood, flesh forms. From the flesh, adipose tissues form. Then the bones develop followed by bone marrow. Then muscles develop. At the end, reproductive cells develop.
It is interesting to see that the first form of our body was fluid, a mixture of mucus and reproductive cells of our parents’ bodies. Genetic information is passed through the reproductive cells. The point not to be missed here is that the child’s body, health & disease; all depends on what the physical constitution of the parents were, what their diet was, and what their routine. It is hence of utmost importance to rectify the mother’s diet and routine after the pregnancy has started; the sooner the better.
Diet Backed By Ayurveda
- Tridoshic Foods: The expecting mother should follow a diet that doesn’t aggravate or vitiate any dosha. Such foods may sound boring at first since pregnancy food aversions and cravings are justifiably famous (or infamous).
Examples are: Khichdi, Dal-rice, etc.
- Sattvic Foods: All food meant for a pregnant woman should be prepared with a positive mindset. It should consist of only fresh and nourishing ingredients.
Examples are: All healthy, light and freshly prepared food.
- Fresh Fruits & Vegetables: Consuming raw fruits and vegetables as a salad accompanied by buttermilk, yogurt, coconut cream etc. assures that nutritional deficiencies wouldn’t occur.
Examples are: Cold salads with sour cream, Fruit salad with fresh dairy cream.
- Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit: Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are tiny packets of enormous nutrition. They should be consumed in moderation to get maximum benefits. They shall help maintain a healthy heart and blood throughout and even after the pregnancy.
Examples are: Walnuts, Sunflower seeds, Sesame seeds, Raisins, Dried figs, etc.
Besides including these foods in the diet, a pregnant woman should quit smoking, alcohol, heavily spiced and street food during pregnancy. Street foods are made commercially at large scales with all emphasis on taste and do not have any nutritional value.
Routine Backed By Yoga
On hearing the word yoga many people start thinking of crazy poses that require practice and stamina. Well, only some parts of yoga fits this description, since yoga is not only poses but a beautifully created pathway to complete holistic health of the mind, body and spirit left behind by ancient Indian practitioners of self-realization.
Pregnancy may look like just life with a big belly ending into painful labor, but it includes too much care, caution, stress, physical discomfort and a fear of never being able to regain health and youth again. Physical health is only a bonus that comes with yoga practice.
- Pranayama can be started as soon as pregnancy begins.
- After the initial three months, easy practices like Tadasana, Shashankasana and Shavasana should be done under guidance and supervision of a competent yoga therapist.
- After the first six months, meditation should be learned and practiced as a routine so that labor and delivery are not stressful.
- All practices should be done after consulting a yoga therapist.