By Rachael Coopes

We all know yoga is good for us. From the terrible twos (and threes and fours) to the spectacular seventies, eighties and beyond, there are many benefits of practicing yoga at every age.

Over the past 20 years as a writer, actor and television presenter, yoga has been my constant through many transitions and phases.

Both the physical asana practice and the life-affirming philosophical teachings supported me through the years of teenage angst, studies of Economics at Sydney Uni, travels around the globe and the rollercoaster ride of working in film, theater and tv.

However, it wasn’t until I fell pregnant with my son Gabriel, eight years ago that I really understood the capacity and potency of yoga.

Motherhood is the ultimate invitation to meet yourself. And yoga offers a pathway to do that – throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond​. I honestly cannot imagine what the process of becoming a mother would have been for me, without yoga. But I know it would not have been pretty.

But what makes the practice of yoga during the pre and post natal period so incredibly potent for mummas?

Yoga provides very powerful, tried and tested tools to prepare the body, mind and spirit for whatever arises on the challenging and rewarding journey of motherhood. It teaches us strength, patience, presence and surrender.

From McLeod’s Daughters and Play School to Australia’s favourite prenatal yoga teacher, Rachael Coopes is sharing her top five reasons for mums to get on the mat …

Most importantly- yoga is for everyone. You don’t have to be a contortionist to practice prenatal yoga. In fact, many women step onto the mat for the very first time during pregnancy.

Now, as the leading trainer of the Pre & Post Natal Yoga Teacher Training at Australia’s leading yoga and pilates studio and training facility BodyMindLife, I empower both teachers and parents-to-be to create yoga practices tailored for expectant mums during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

“Most importantly- yoga is for everyone.”

In case you needed more convincing, here are five reasons mummas come to the mat …

Rediscovering your body

Make no mistake, yoga is meant to be a strong practice.I find many mums still want to leave feeling a physical benefit. During both pre and post natal yoga sessions, teachers focus on opening areas that tend to get closed off during the stages of pregnancy. This means areas like the shoulders, hips and backs of the legs get some much needed love.

Building durable and protective strength

To allow for a safe pregnancy, mums lose their deeper core muscles. Yoga allows the body to gradually build strength in supportive areas. While mummas shouldn’t expect to leave a yoga studio with a six pack, a regular yoga practice during the prenatal period allows mums to build strength in parts of the body that carry more weight and be under stress in the later stages of pregnancy.

Giving you the space to breathe

Most people go through their life without any understanding of their breath. A yoga practice during pregnancy is powerful as it allows mums to better control what’s known as the rest and restore response. The work we do with the parasympathetic nervous system becomes a superpower during labour.

A dose of mindfulness

Almost every social media influencer and actual expert talk about the power of mindfulness. Yoga is a highway for pre and postnatal mums to become more mindful. Through movement, active rest and breathwork, we build the tools they need to narrow their focus and relax.

And finally….surrender

Pregnancy and everything that comes after it is NO joke. While the teachings and physical poses of yoga are strong, they call us to lean into our bodies and in the end, surrender. By the time they become mothers, mums are prepared to stop sweating the small things and surrender our need to be perfect.