New to the Prenatal class scene and looking for the low-down on how to get the most out of your class with your little womb buddy on board? Consider below a guide if you’re a practicing yogi newly pregnant who’d like to stick with your beloved regular yoga class (there will come a time when a proper prenatal class will be the only option, trust me!) or if you’re new to the yoga and pregnancy scene entirely, where a prenatal yoga class will be the safest starting point for you.
Keep a fertile baby garden
From the moment you see the double line on the stick it’s nice to keep things welcoming and open in the abdominal region. Even if you are still physically able to engage in twists because you’re early in pregnancy, a soft open lower abdomen sets the energetic tone for your pregnancy, acknowledging your wee ones pregnancy. It also helps you adjust your pregnancy more easily as you’ve done some prep work to accommodate the changes that are on the way. So refrain from deep abdominal twists and forward folds.
Decrease angles and depth as pregnancy progresses
The more your baby grows means more pressure on your muscles, joints, circulation, digestion, and breathing, to mention a few. The added pressure on your body will mean it’s likely some part of you (hips, low back and upper back are most common culprits) will ache regularly. Gentle, circular, fluid motion to maintain mobility and strength will get you through the pre and postnatal period. You’ll build your pre pregnancy strength and flexility once the beautiful hazy baby days are over, and your body will remember so don’t stress it!
Props = Friends
Balance, range of motion and pre pregnancy injuries mean you should not be afraid to use all the amazing yoga support on offer. You can still have a wonderful yoga practice without your hands touching the floor. Embrace your goddess shape and get creative with props that enable you and bub to find the sweet spot that will more readily encourage you to maintain safe and stable alignment and slip into your rest and digest zone, revitalising you for pregnant life beyond the mat. In addition to the yoga standards of props, blankets, bolsters, straps etc., chairs, walls, and kitchen counters will all come in handy as you bloom.
Work in a comfortable stretch – zone
Pregnancy hormones do some amazing work in preparation for childbirth — but don’t exploit this hormonal advantage into your yoga practice. Over-stretching during pregnancy can cause permanent ligament, joint and alignment damage after childbirth or breastfeeding. To keep your body safe for life, work within a moderate zone of “feeling” into the stretch and be especially mindful of this is you were hyper-flexible prior to pregnancy. You can return to the deeper yummy feels when you are a few months clear of childbirth or breastfeeding.
I offer suggestions and prompts, mainly verbal and possibly physical if warranted. However don’t let my advice stop you from taking the best out there, your own. As your body evolves with the pregnancy you’ll discover ways to make your body feel better. Trusting your own sensations and instincts during your practice will be great practice for the mothering journey that lies ahead.
Stop! when there is pain
Niggly aches and pains are common, sharp, searing pain is not. If this ever happens during a posture, come out as slowly as possible and let your teacher know. If may simply mean you need to chill out or an appropriate alternative can be found.
Take a break
Do not feel that every posture offered in a prenatal class is required in order for you getting a well-rounded practice. If you feel tired and need a time out or just want to use the tranquility of class to catch your breath, feel free to either take a milder version of the posture (half dog instead of full for example) or any restorative posture your beautiful mamma heart desires (child’s, seated, side lying) until you feel ready to rejoin the practice.
But don’t forget to embrace your strength
While it’s great to chill out, and you’re more apt to feel that way in the first and third trimesters, don’t be afraid to stay strong! With the exception of specific pregnancy-induced problems (which you should always tell your teacher about) there is no reason your amazing body that is making a human and preparing to bring it earth-side can endure a bit of an appropriate challenge on a regular basis throughout pregnancy. Aim to maintain strength and endurance by committing to the strengthening postures (lunges and squats for example). It will serve you well for labour, birth (both surgical and vaginal) and the postnatal recovery period.
Respect each posture, session and day as it comes
One day you’ll be flying high, feeling like the energetic rush will never end (very common after coming out of the first trimester) while the next day you will feel encumbered, heavy and just unambitious. One day you’ll feel wobbly and awkward as you adjust to your changing shape and the next you’ll feel solid, confident and stable in your skin. Take each day as it comes, incorporate the truth of what is happening for you into an appropriate yoga session, and marvel at the amazing job you are doing every day as your little soul prepares to come forth mamma.