Whether you start practising yoga after you discover you’re pregnant, or you already have a regular practice, yoga can help you to connect with your baby and prepare you for your birth.
Below are some tips for new and experienced mothers-to-be.
Starting yoga during your pregnancy
Many new mothers-to-be who have no previous yoga experience will benefit from a gentle and nurturing yoga practice. When I started pregnancy yoga when I was pregnant with my eldest son, I already had a sporadic practice. The pregnancy yoga classes I attended enabled me to turn those previously irregular visits into a dedicated weekly time for myself and baby. Movement, awareness and learning to breathe were some of the great tools I picked up that were of tremendous help to me during pregnancy and birth. The yoga classes provided me with a moment in time to become more aware, to feel my body and to feel my body changing. Sometimes I didn’t appreciate those changes – the heartburn that raged when I lay down for Savasana, the swollen legs that wouldn’t allow me to sit comfortably. However looking back, the emotional connection and time for myself more than made up for any physical discomforts I endured.
Most importantly, when you are new to yoga, take all the props you need, take rest when you are out of breath or dizzy and generally focus on enjoying your body in movement, your breath and energetic connection to your body and baby. After your baby is born and you are fully recovered, you will have the opportunity to practice more strenuous yoga.
I’d recommend starting with pregnancy yoga classes with a teacher who can guide you in person, however I do appreciate that’s not always possible. In my first pregnancy I suffered from severe sickness that meant I often struggled to get through an entire class without vomiting. In my second pregnancy I struggled to attend a class, as childcare options were non-existent when my husband was working away.
This is one of the main reasons why I created our online pregnancy yoga course – to make pregnancy yoga accessible to as many mothers-to-be as possible.
If you already practice yoga and become pregnant
If you are an experienced yoga student and your pregnancy is going well, after your first trimester you may be able to follow many general yoga classes with some adaptations. ItsMost importantly, listen to your body and slow down when it tells you to.
General tips for pregnancy yoga
1. Use props and give your baby space
Modify your poses and use props to accommodate your changing shape. Place your hands on blocks in lunges, use bolsters under your thighs for Cobras, blankets under your knees in lunges and generally be generous in giving yourself some more space and support.
2. Protect the Vena Cava
Although you can stay on your back for a while, in the second trimester, don’t be there for too long as the baby might cut off the circulation by its weight pressing down on the Vena Cava.
3. Adjust your balance
Keep in mind that your sense of balance can dramatically change during pregnancy, making you less stable in balancing poses.
4. Work on stability rather than flexibility
Due to the hormone relaxin in your body, from the second trimester on, stay away from your edge in stretching muscles. Focus instead on creating stable joints by keeping your muscles strong.
Relaxin can have a big influence on how deeply you bend and twist. Respecting this powerful hormone, stay in your existing range of stretching instead of trying to increase flexibility.