A Guide to Pregnancy Yoga
Whether you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, whether this is your first or fifth baby, pregnancy yoga is a wonderful tool to help you navigate your way through your pregnancy journey. Pregnancy yoga can help keep both you and your baby in the best shape; mentally, physically and spiritually.
What is pregnancy yoga?
Pregnancy yoga, in short, is yoga that has been modified to suit the needs of pregnant women and their babies.
Pregnant women experience many changes both mentally and physically during their pregnancy. Their yoga practice (if they have one) might have to change its emphasis. There are yoga poses which are no longer advisable for pregnant women to practice, especially at different stages of their pregnancy. Then there are yoga poses and techniques which may be very helpful to pregnancy. Additionally if you think of the energetical aspect of yoga, pregnancy yoga has a different energetical focus, in comparison with a vigorous Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga practice, for instance.
What are the common changes experienced by pregnant women and how does pregnancy yoga help?
Here are a few of the most common changes to the body during pregnancy:
- Commonly women experience a change in posture. As the baby grows the pelvis tilts forward, the upper spine and shoulders move forward and to balance this new center of gravity the head also moves forwards. This can lead the woman to have back pain, shorter breath and less confidence or anxiety. Pregnancy yoga can help readdress this posture easing out tensions in the muscles, opening up the chest and shoulders so that the woman can breathe better and feel better and pulling the center of gravity back towards the spine relieving lower back pain.
- Hormones change making all kinds of emotional feelings swirl around, as well as create nausea and dizziness and even cause the ligaments holding the bones together to loosen up. Pregnancy yoga may help ease those feelings away through relaxation and connection to the breath, we know helps to calm the nervous system. Regarding the loosening of the ligaments, pregnancy yoga teachers know not to take their students too far into stretches also working on building a balance of strength. There is emphasis on avoiding putting pressure onto the joints.
- Finding out you or your significant other has become pregnant can a wonderful gift which begins a new and exciting chapter of life. Finding out this news can also be a massive shock and create feelings of unease and anxiety. Both are completely valid feelings and reactions. Pregnancy yoga can help ease those feeling through relaxation and also help to build a connection between Mother and baby. Pregnancy yoga can become their time spent together. Even joining a class can help to connect women together and offer a safe space to share.
- Low blood pressure/ high blood pressure can be experienced in pregnancy. Pregnancy yoga is different to other classes as this is taken into account and poses that may aggravate these issues are removed. There is also less up down movements that can bring on dizziness, sun salutations should be altered to suit pregnant ladies.
Who is pregnancy yoga for?
Anyone can start Pregnancy yoga. It does not matter if you have an existing yoga practice or if you are a total beginner. There are even Pregnancy yoga classes for the significant other to join.
Having said that, if there are any kind of complications that may occur at any stage of pregnancy then medical advice should be sort before undergoing any kind of yoga class.
It is also common that taking a Pregnancy yoga class is not advised before 12 weeks and most teachers won’t take you for insurance purposes.
What are the benefits of pregnancy yoga?
- Yoga can help ease feelings of unease and anxiety.
- Can help build a connection between mother and baby
- Yoga helps keep the body healthy
- Can feelings of acceptance
- Can help alleviate feelings of depression
- Can increase confidence
- Yoga helps to maintain the body, creating space and helping the Mother feel comfortable
- Relaxation and improved sleep
- Increased breath awareness and lung capacity
- Increased stamina and energy
- Releases tension
- Can help women with birth preparation
How do I start doing pregnancy yoga?
There are many wonderful and experienced Pregnancy yoga teachers out there. You can look up their qualifications on the various online yoga platforms like yoga alliance for example. If there is a class near you, go ahead and give it a try.
Birthing centers and even some hospitals sometimes have these Pregnancy yoga classes to offer so you can check it out with your midwife or Doula.
If there are no classes available near you, there are many available online. Just check that you are following a professional and qualified teacher.
Finally if you practice yoga regularly and you know your stuff, then continue doing so. Read up or attend a course and understand when and how you should modify your current practice accordingly so that you and baby get the most out of your yoga practice.
What poses should you avoid when pregnant?
Here are a few modifications for Pregnancy yoga, this is not an individual guide. Please seek medical advice before starting any Pregnancy yoga practice.
- Poses lying flat on the stomach should be avoided or modified in some cases.
- Closed twists should be swapped for open twists.
- Inversions are controversial….some women continue until trimester 3 others avoid these completely.
- Poses lying flat on the back should be avoided or modified with props or avoided from trimester 3 to avoid pressure on the vena cava.
- Savasana should be taken on the left hand side from third trimester. Or taken on the back propped up on bolsters.
- Abdominal crunches should be stopped, instead work on pulling baby in and engaging the transverse abdominals. From table top you can work on engaging here lifting up opposite leg and arm.
- Avoid extreme backbends that put too much pressure on the abdominal and the spine, especially in later pregnancy.
Enjoy your yoga practice and keep a look out for our Pregnancy yoga short courses coming soon at Mahi Yoga.