Practice prenatal yoga and keep up your regular practice too with modifications
Yoga is incredible for healing and nurturing ourselves. By practicing, we create the most hospitable body for our breath to move and flourish. Never is there a more important time to prioritize this than during pregnancy. Practicing prenatal yoga can potentially be one of the best things you do during your pregnancy to keep your body supple, healthy, energetic, and prepared to grow a human being.
Prenatal yoga is a specifically designed practice for pregnant women to both facilitate deep breathing and moving in ways conducive to a growing baby. There are plenty of yoga poses that eventually just won’t feel good and won’t be a real super idea. More on that below.
Whether you’ve been practicing for years or just starting a practice because you’re pregnant and everyone is telling you to do prenatal yoga, gather your facts so you can make informed decisions.
Before starting any type of exercise or movement program, including prenatal yoga, check with your OB to make sure it’s okay
If you get the green light, there are a few crucial things to be aware of while continuing your practice or beginning prenatal yoga classes.
Even though studies have shown that women who do yoga during pregnancy, specifically prenatal yoga, have lower stress and anxiety, less discomfort, and lower incidence of prenatal disorders. It all makes sense.
For women who really dislike the slow pace and gentle nature of a prenatal yoga class, you can probably keep going to your regular class, which is awesome. However, your practice will need to change and modifications will be necessary. Most definitely tell your teacher you are pregnant and ask all of the questions about modifications and concerns. It would be ideal to stay with your regular practice with modifications and possibly open your mind to a weekly prenatal class too.
You’ll meet other mammas in prenatal yoga classes who are experiencing similar things and can relate to the shocking changes going on in your body. You’ll be encouraged to modify, skip poses, and rest as much as you like. Prenatal yoga classes offer a very supportive, nurturing environment and you really, really do need that while pregnant.
3 things to know and practice while pregnant
- Pregnant women should avoid practicing yoga in extreme heat. I know, I know, there is quite a bit of disagreement on this topic. But science says don’t do it. There’s a myriad of issues that can arise due to extreme heat during pregnancy. A pregnant body experiences more heat dissipation. Sweating is how we release heat and when the room is hot, the body can’t cool down. Prenatal yoga classes are typically set at room temperature, around 78 degrees. The average heat in a hot yoga class is over 100 degrees. Add movement and all of the other bodies producing heat and you have a really damn hot room going on. Joint laxity is another issue during pregnancy. And a hot room only increases joint flexibility so the risk of going too far and too deep are greater for pregnant women, increasing the risk of injury. And then there are dehydration concerns. Advocates say as long as you stay really hydrated it’s fine. All we can do is arm ourselves with facts and use our best judgment.
- Remember twists and inversions will be waiting for you after you’ve given birth. These types of postures are not offered in prenatal yoga classes. Inversions can actually change the position of the baby inside the womb. And then there’s the risk of failing. Again, there are dissenting opinions on inversions during pregnancy. So if you absolutely love them and don’t want to stop doing them, consider using a wall and doing them much less frequently. Twists constrict space in the body temporarily. While pregnant, more space is what’s needed, not less.
- Your center of balance is going to shift. You can still practice balance postures, of course. But being near a wall for support may be the very best way to get the full benefits of the poses while you’re with child. Support is the ongoing advice and theme here. You simply need more while pregnant, so let yourself have it!
Everone agrees breathwork is absolutely necessary. Regardless of what you choose, taking the very best care of yourself you can is the most important thing.