There are so many reasons why you may want to practise yoga during pregnancy. I have been pregnant twice and enjoyed both regular yoga classes and specific “Pregnancy Yoga”. These classes tailor the yoga to the needs during pregnancy, both physical and mental. It is such a special yet often challenging time to navigate so being with a trained teacher is really valuable.
Prenatal Yoga can help with common pregnancy aches and pains by drawing attention to good posture. Focusing on good alignment of the body through the physical yoga poses can improve or prevent common problems such as back and shoulder ache. Problems such as Pelvic Girdle Pain can be eased with the right choice of asana. The teacher will also know about contra indications, that is postures that should be avoided during pregnancy or with certain prenatal conditions. For example, we would avoid back bends and deep twists. The postures practised can help to strengthen the body as your baby grows and improve flexibility in a safe way, being mindful of the hormone relaxin.
You may know that yoga can help with managing anxiety and emotions. Pregnancy is a time where hormones rollercoaster and emotions are all over the place. Taking time to be present with the movement and breath can help to calm the mind and provide space for dealing with change. The body awareness gained through yoga can help adapt to a changing body.
Being at a Pregnancy Yoga class also means that you are not alone in going through these feelings. You will meet other expectant mums, who might be in your area, and start to build a community. It is lovely to share the experience with others going through it too, the highs and the lows. The friendships I made with my first baby are still really important to me. ZenMuma classes include a segment for a check in with everyone and a chat.
Pregnancy Yoga gives you a chance to connect with your growing baby. In our busy lives with work, older children and other commitments, mums often whiz through the day without noticing their baby! This time gives you time to be aware of them, and the teacher may even plan time into the class for this bonding.
Birth preparation is another element of Pregnancy Yoga. Classes can help you to prepare for birth, both mentally and physically. The postures included in lessons help to develop strength and flexibility in the legs which is useful for a vaginal birth. Other movements can be used within labour, or “active birth”, such as hip circles and lunges. Breathing techniques can be a wonderful positive focus during contractions. Practising relaxation can also help you to keep calm during your baby’s birth. Some teachers will make this explicit, others will weave them seamlessly into lessons.
Taking time to relax is another benefit of pregnancy yoga. You get to lay down and rest! The class finishes with a guided relaxation, or yoga nidra, which will help your body to rest. This is so important for you and your baby, and if you are struggling to sleep at night then spending time in an adapted shavasana helps to restore you.
You might find, like me, that why you enjoy Pregnancy Yoga is not the same reason you started! I went to stay fit during pregnancy but ended up making great friends and finding time to relax. I hope that you are inspired to try Pregnancy Yoga near you!