If you are reading this right now, odds are that you are either pregnant, or planning on becoming pregnant in the near future. Either way, you might have heard that yoga is great to do during pregnancy and you heard right! Whether your doctor, midwife or doula suggested it, or if your girlfriend told you all about how it helped her during her pregnancy…there are about a thousand and one benefits for you and your baby and it is something that you won’t regret involving in your life.
What are some of the health benefits of prenatal yoga?
- Improved sleep (mamas need all the help they can get here!)
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Increased confidence in themselves and their ability to birth and parent (yes please!)
- Decreased low back pain
- Decreased nausea and headaches
- Relief from shortness of breath
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Sense of community with other mamas
Prenatal yoga is specially designed with a pregnant person in mind. We focus on breathing, postures and poses that help alleviate aches and pains of pregnancy as well as some that prepare the body for labor. Gentle stretching and mindful movements are crucial to a safe and effective prenatal practice.
It is important to be mindful that prenatal yoga won’t be the same as other forms of yoga. Hot Yoga, Bikram, and other hot practices should be avoided because of the effects of overheating on the developing fetus.
Poses where you lie on your back, stomach, or poses that have a lot of abdominal stretching (back bends) should also be avoided. Laying on your back for too long can put pressure on your vena cava which disrupts the blood flow to you and your baby. This can cause dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath and honestly, is just super uncomfortable. Poses that cause abdominal stretching are stretching your already stretched abs. This can contribute to diastasis recti (the separation of your rectus abdominis)…nobody wants that if they can avoid it.
Taking my health into my own hands is one of my most important values. Sure, we can’t control everything, but there is so much that we can control if we take the time and the responsibility to figure it out.
My journey with yoga has been a long one, but I didn’t fully realize the healing, strengthening and calming power that it had until I went to prenatal yoga with my first little. It made so much of a difference during pregnancy, labor and postpartum. I had a lot of people tell me how lucky I was that labor went well and that I had such great recoveries…there is so so so much that goes into each of those, but yoga definitely played a big part in it…and luck didn’t have that much to do with it.
Pregnancy is a physical and mental marathon. Would you run a marathon without training for it? Well…I had a friend who did, and let’s just say that he wouldn’t do it again! I knew that in order to have the birth that I was dreaming about, I needed to put in the effort before it happened.
I was able to find a fantastic prenatal yoga class that was taught by a doula that I knew. She was able to incorporate yoga poses, with laboring and relaxation positions, along with mantras, mudras, and breathing exercises. She showed us that our bodies were already capable of pregnancy, so why shouldn’t they be capable of birth?!
I am so glad that I have been able to grow with my yoga journey and bring that same confidence and power to other mamas-to-be. If there is one thing that I want mamas to understand and get out of doing yoga, it is confidence. Take the fear out of the equation, and what are you left with? Confidence. When you are using your own body and mind in a very deliberate way, you develop confidence. When you find healing through your own movement, you develop confidence. When you are surrounded by others who believe in you, you develop confidence!!
What can you expect during a prenatal yoga class?
- Breathing and centering
- Pranayama (breathing exercises) during pregnancy can be used to help center, calm and bring focus to the birthing person. Some classes may introduce a theme to focus on during that particular session.
- Warming up and stretching
- Finding a range of motion that is suitable for each person. Intense stretching is not recommended for a pregnant person because of the relaxin that is already in their system. Relaxin “relaxes” the body’s muscles, joints and ligaments, making them more susceptible to overstretching.
- Classes will involve yoga flows with variations when necessary. Yoga poses that are helpful for pregnancy and labor will be included. When a yoga instructor is educated about labor positions, these will also be utilized during class. Yoga blocks, blankets, bolsters and straps should be available to make any adjustments necessary to make the poses comfortable.
- Cool down and Final relaxation
- During the last portion of a prenatal yoga class, it is encouraged to relax and calm the system back down again. Sometimes, mantras or meditations are read and encouraged. Re-centering and connecting to your baby can help bring special purpose to the class.
So, basically what I am saying is, Girl! I know it is tough moving that gorgeous growing body of yours, but you will be so happy when you start moving it with yoga. Let me know how I can help!!!