“Effective natural treatments include yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, meditation, lifestyle changes and exercise,” notes Cherkin. “But since they’re not in most doctors’ medical training or learned repertoire for pain relief, patients aren’t offered the opportunity to try them.”
“Regular exercise brings more energy, better sleep, reduced stress, higher spirits, better odds of an easy labor, faster post-delivery recovery and reduced risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy,” Bregman finds. She recommends a prenatal yoga practice that includes breathing and visualizations. This restorative form of yoga offers gentle stretching, promotes good circulation and naturally supports relief or healing of many possible pregnancy ailments.
While a Gyrotonic workout has similarities to yoga and Pilates, it is also unique. According to Melissa Jutras, a Pilates instructor, weightlifting coach, personal trainer and gym/studio owner of Big Blue Strength, in Lexington, Kentucky, “Hatha yoga is a series of static postures, whereas Pilates and Gyrotonic movements focus on flow, using equipment to enhance core strength, stability, control, coordination and flexibility. The difference is that Gyrotonic exercises works on three dimensions with every circular movement, like the body naturally moves. It uses weights and a pulley system, whereas Pilates is more linear and uses spring tension.”
Fatigue due to physical or mental exertion is common in those beleaguered by stress, poor eating habits and insomnia, struggling to balance the needs of family and career and too often using caffeine and other stimulants to artificially rebound energy. James L. Wilson, Ph.D., a doctor of chiropractic and naturopathy, educates medical professionals about an even more serious health issue he identifies as “adrenal fatigue”; it’s characterized by below-optimal adrenal function induced by an overload of such stressors.
In restorative yoga, the peak pose is savasana—in which the practitioner fully relaxes while resting flat on their back. Leeann Carey, author of Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being, explains, “This passive asana practice turns down the branch of the nervous system that keeps us in fight-or-flight mode and turns up the system allowing us to rest and digest. It feels like a massage for the nervous system and encourages self-inquiry, reflection and change, rather than perfection.”
Nielsen notes, “Bodybuilding makes me feel stronger; I look better and have loads of endurance. Yoga makes me feel more centered; it softens me so I can hear and surrender to what my body is telling me rather than me just telling it what to do.” Such listening is essential to preventing injuries that periodically plague bodybuilders. Slowing down into yoga’s present moment awareness teaches bodybuilders how to perform from a place of presence rather than on autopilot, which is when most injuries occur.