The pregnant woman is a very precious creature and both you and your body should be treated with due respect and care. Your body is going through a massive amount of change (and growth!) and as such there are a few handy things to remember when practicing yoga both in class and at home…
Pregnancy Yoga Classes
Firstly I would suggest that if you can find a pregnancy yoga class rather than a regular yoga class, this is the place to be. A pregnancy yoga class will mean that you are in a room with other mums to be, you will have a teacher trained in pregnancy yoga to give advice and that you will be carrying out breathwork and postures especially for the pregnant body. It will be a softer, more nurturing class that will help prepare your body and mind for the arrival of your little one.
If you cannot find a local class, take a look at online classes or maybe adjust your own home practice. Some yoga teachers will allow pregnant ladies in their regular classes if they know the students and capabilities and provide arrange of alternative options.
So, wherever you get to practice, whether in a class or at home, let’s look at some handy Do's and Don’t's to make sure your practice stays safe and helpful to you as a blooming mama!
Here are a few handy things to do, in terms of your pregnancy yoga practice!
Do breathe fully, and learn how to exhale completely
Do move slowly and gently
Do rest whenever you need to (at home and in yoga class)
Do support your knees with cushions and blocks when needed (e.g. in Baddha Konasana (butterfly) or sitting cross legged)
Do enjoy chest-opening practices to promote easy breath
Do take time to let yoga help you to focus on yourself and your baby
Do practice relaxation techniques as often as you can such as humming, chanting, sound practices, relaxation, meditation and Yoga Nidra
Do use pelvic floor practices (e.g. mulabandha) to learn how to identify, tome and release the muscles of the pelvic floor. (Most guidelines recommend three sets of ten squeezes, three times a day!)
Do ask questions if you are unsure of anything covered in a yoga class
Do listen to your body and sense what is right for you
Do try to eat healthily to feed your body during this important time. i.e. have a snack before of after class!
Importantly, here are some don’ts to watch out for…
Don't practice inverted postures (e.g. headstand and shoulder stand)
Don’t rush your practice – take it slowly and move with your breath
Don't be tough on yourself! – it’s ok to rest and nurture yourself at this important time.
Don't hold your breath or practice kapalabhati or any vigorous pumping breaths.
Don't hold poses for more than five breaths
Don’t overstretch as you have a hormone called relaxin in the body
Don't fold forward or bend backwards if it feels awkward
Don't maintain a lifted mulabandha for longer than a single breath
Don't lie on your front (you might squash baby!) and don't lie on your back after 30 weeks
Don't twist deeply
Don't worry if you can’t remember things because I repeat many of the poses and breaths every week in class
Most importantly of all - do enjoy your yoga practice! Yoga can be a beautifully enjoyable and rewarding practice when you are pregnant and this is a very special time in a woman’s life. Take your time with your yoga – go slow and connect to your breath. If you can’t make it to class, some simple breathing or stretching at home can be just what you need. Maybe create a little 10-minute bedtime routine or post-work stretch out. Little bits regularly will help to keep those aches and pains at bay and make the body supple and strong ready for labour… and don't forget those daily pelvic floor exercises!
Want to try some simple pregnancy yoga?
Why not try my online 7-day mini-course in pregnancy yoga? This is a short video course, introducing you to some important movements and stretches that I would include in my pregnancy yoga classes. Perfect if you only have 5-10 mins per day to spare or can’t quite make it to a pregnancy yoga class near you.
Click here to find out more…