Hey yogis! Welcome back for another week of fun reading! So far we have explored the many wonderful benefits of yoga, some of the most important aspects of yoga, and also how to properly fuel the body to get the most out of your practice. This week I thought it could be interesting to touch upon prenatal yoga.
Well, first off CONGRATULATIONS! If you’re reading this it’s probably because you recently peed on a stick and your life changed. I’m guessing, you had a moment (or twelve) of sheer panic and you also felt – excited, scared, happy, and overwhelmed – all at the same time. After this, you started to manically google what you can and can’t do now that you have a baby on the way. Then you googled “exercise when pregnant” and got thoroughly confused by the jungle of do’s and don’ts on various internet sites.
There’s a very long list of technical do’s and don’ts for practising yoga when you are pregnant. But one thing is for certain, yoga is a safe and effective exercise for pregnant women. It can even provide relief during pregnancy and help prepare your body for labor and delivery.
WHY IS PRENATAL YOGA IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY?
Prenatal yoga is uniquely designed for pregnant women. It’s intended to help you prepare for childbirth by relaxing the body and focusing on safe techniques and poses in all stages of pregnancy. While the breath and gentle movements give you the opportunity to feel and connect to your body, the poses are meant to help build strength and stamina, improve circulation, regulate breathing and open energy channels. All skills you will need in X months when your bun is cooked and ready to enter the world.
While all this sounds great, it’s useful to understand how you can practice yoga in a safe way and what you will get out of it. Here are some helpful tips and your prenatal yoga do’s:
- Use props – As your body is changing, you’ll notice that certain poses won’t feel as comfortable or attainable as they did before. Use props to adapt your practice as necessary.
- Take your time – You don’t have to rush through vinyasas, Sun Salutations, or any other transitions. Follow the pace at which your body is ready to go. Take any breaks you need, and don’t hesitate to step outside if you don’t feel well.
- Modify poses when needed – Even if you’re not using props, adopt modifications whenever you need it. With every single day, your body will be slightly different. As a result, your practice will need to evolve, as well.
- Be careful with inversions – If you practiced them before, you should be fine to practice inversions during pregnancy. You may however want to practice with a wall behind you. Stop if you aren’t feeling well or safe.
- Take deep breaths – While opinions on this differ, it’s best not to run out of breath when practicing yoga or any other exercise during pregnancy. Instead, make sure you take long deep breaths. It will be safer for the baby and prevent exhaustion. Deep breathing is also vital in delivery. It will help you manage pain better and keep your stress levels in check. So, use your yoga practice as preparation for that.
- Do what feels right – Pregnancy is not the time for hardcore practice and pushing towards new goals. Instead, take the time to really pay attention to your body. Always listen to your body and only do what feels good. If you are nauseous or dizzy or don’t feel comfortable or safe, skip the pose. Feel free to rest in child’s pose or take a break whenever you need it.
Now that we’ve looked at the pregnancy yoga do’s, let’s check out the don’ts.
- Deep twists – Deep twists can put pressure on the growing belly and restrict blood flow to the uterus. Instead, try open twists, they can relieve tension in the back and upper body.
- Deep back bending – Some backbends can make you feel uncomfortable and overextend your abdominals, and increase the risk of diastasis recti. Instead, try poses like supported bridge pose. Upward dog should also be fine as long as you don’t feel too much pressure on your belly or lower back.
- Laying on your belly – Baby needs space to grow big and strong. Instead of doing back bending on your belly in classes, try standing on your knees and doing camel pose, for example, as a similar stretch.
- Laying on your back for extended periods of time – Generally, lying flat on the back is not for pregnant women after 18 weeks. As your belly gets bigger, avoid laying on your back for savasana, or for any other poses that have you on your back for more than a few breaths. Instead, try sitting up in meditation or laying on your left side with props.
- Intense ab work – Avoid any yoga poses that involve crunching or cause your belly to pop out into a triangle. This puts too much strain on the connective tissues and can result in diastasis recti. A good rule of thumb are no crunches or planks during pregnancy.
Your journey through pregnancy is an exciting one! Use your yoga practice to enhance the feelings and emotions you are having and to make your body more comfortable and prepared for labor, delivery and motherhood. Have fun experimenting with what works for you and for your baby.
Most importantly – stay safe, enjoy yoga and your pregnancy!
Happy practicing, mamas!
Interested to practice prenatal yoga? Join me online here!
This post was originally co-written with our lovely Yoga Roots intern, Shirin. Thank you!