Prenatal yoga might just be the best thing to have made its way onto the pregnancy scene. You can take part in healthy and safe exercise, connect with other mums, and even learn techniques that will come in incredibly useful during labour.
In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about prenatal yoga, and hopefully, help you to decide whether it’s right for you.
What is prenatal yoga?
Prenatal yoga is specifically designed to cater to pregnant women. Each class is carefully planned to ensure that expectant mums are moving in a way that is safe for them and their babies. A prenatal yoga class is often more balanced: students will spend time working on joint mobility in a careful selection of seated and standing positions, as well as lots of time, spent relaxing and working on breathing techniques.
What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?
The benefits of prenatal yoga go way beyond the practice in general. Here are just a few reasons to consider prenatal yoga classes.
Meet mum friends
A prenatal yoga class is a sure way to meet some mum friends. Whether or not you prefer your own company, it can be nice to know that you have one or two other women who are going through the same situation at the same time as you. These will be the women who are also awake and ready for a chat during the 3 am feed.
Connect with baby
If you’re feeling disconnected from your growing baby, prenatal yoga is a great way to start building a connection. Your baby will benefit from the classes as much as you, the minute you de-stress and relax, your baby does too.
Staying active during pregnancy can mean a healthier pregnancy with fewer risks and a faster recovery after birth. Exercising can also help to ease the strain of childbirth – you’re going to need a bit of stamina when it gets to that part!
Create a new hobby
If you’ve never tried yoga, now is the perfect time to start. Maybe you’ll discover that you really enjoy the classes and want to continue into postnatal yoga classes. You can use yoga to ensure that you spend at least one hour per week out of the house once the baby is born – and once you’ve been given the all-clear to start exercising.
Learn breathing techniques
Prenatal yoga classes will teach you breathing techniques that will be invaluable to you for, literally, the rest of your life. You can use them during pregnancy if you’re feeling anxious, as well as during birth when it’s important to focus on slowing your breathing and getting through contractions. They’ll even come in useful when you have a toddler running around your ankles and raising your stress levels to boiling point – you can lock yourself in the bathroom for two minutes, practise those breathing techniques that you learned during prenatal yoga, and come out feeling ready to take on a whole team of toddlers.
What can I expect from a prenatal yoga class?
Most prenatal yoga classes will be designed using the following structure:
- Breathing – this will often be deep breathing in and out of the nose, but your teacher may also teach you a few pranayama techniques (also known as the practice of breath control).
- Gentle stretching – during pregnancy, a hormone called ‘relaxin’ works to relax the body’s muscles, joints, and ligaments. This will make childbirth easier, but it can also mean that you are more easily injured. Prenatal yoga teachers will make sure that you avoid any deep stretching that can cause injury.
- Postures – the body of the class will be made up of both seated and standing postures. The sequence will be designed to ensure that it is accessible for the pregnant body, and will help you to strengthen the areas that are going to need it the most.
- Cool-down and relaxation – arguably the most important part of any yoga class. The final part of a prenatal class will encourage you to spend time winding down and completely relaxing.
Is prenatal yoga my only option?
Though prenatal yoga classes are the most suitable during pregnancy, you could also attend a Hatha or restorative yoga class. If you choose to attend a class that is not labeled as ‘prenatal’, be sure to let the studio and teacher know at the time of booking. This way teachers can adapt the movements for you, and also let you know if they’re not comfortable teaching you – don’t take it personally!
What do I need to be aware of during prenatal yoga?
There are a few differences between regular yoga classes and prenatal yoga classes. Poses will be adapted to ensure safety for pregnant students, and you may also find that you use more props (blocks and cushions) than in a normal class.
Be mindful of your core throughout the practice. Don’t take any deep twists or put a lot of pressure on the abdominal muscles. It’s also very likely that you’ll be guided through savasana on an incline (with cushions or bolsters to lay on) or on your side with props used between your knees and under your belly.
Remember that prenatal yoga teachers are very aware of what you should and shouldn’t be doing during pregnancy – follow their instruction and you’ll be just fine.
Consider prenatal yoga as a tool for pregnancy and beyond. What you learn here will go much further than just enjoying an hour-long yoga class. You’ll meet people, do something good for you and your baby, and possibly work towards a more positive birthing experience!