A Complete Guide To Prenatal Yoga
During pregnancy, you want to stay in shape and do what is best for you and your baby. Prenatal yoga is a wonderful way to do both. In our go-go-go world, yoga offers a much-needed opportunity to slow down and connect with your baby and with your body as it transforms. Whether you are new to yoga or are already an experienced practitioner, you can enjoy the many benefits of yoga during pregnancy.
Top 5 Prenatal Yoga Poses
There are many yoga poses that are comfortable and safe to do during pregnancy. These are ones you’re very likely to see in a prenatal yoga class:
A Healthier Happier Pregnancythrough Yoga
Yoga is a great way to relieve pain. Women whopractice yoga while pregnant can experience reductions in:
- Back pain
- Preeclampsia risk, or high blood pressureduring pregnancy
- Laborpain, potentially due to improved core strength
Unlike other forms of prenatal exercise, whichfocus on physical effects, yoga also has been shown to have many psychologicalbenefits for moms-to-be, such as lowering levels of anxiety and depression, which can help youhave a happier, more balanced pregnancy. While we dont recommend complicatedposes in the delivery room, the breathing and relaxation techniques can help relieve pain during labor.
After baby comes home from the hospital, yogahas been shown to reduce the effects of postpartum depression, aserious concern for many women. On the physical side, yoga can help withre-establishing core strength, which can minimize the risks of pelvic floordisorders related to childbirth.
These benefits can help you manage thestresses of work, life, and family concerns during and after your pregnancy. Socarve out an hour to focus on yourself and the new life youre creating itcan do so much good for you and your baby!
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Are Twists Safe During Pregnancy
Twists, on the other hand, should be avoided entirely throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. Twists have the potential to produce uterine contractions. Twists are not regarded safe during the first trimester of pregnancy, when your growing baby is the smallest and the danger of miscarriage is the largest.
Pregnancy Yoga Tips By Trimester
Experts recommend getting physically active every day for at least 30 minutes and yoga certainly counts. Here are a few tips to maximize your time on the mat each trimester.
- First trimester: Since youre likely feeling more fatigued than usual, make sure to take breaks and modify your yoga positions. And if youre suffering from morning sickness, replace downward dog with hands and knees not because downward dog is unsafe, but just because having your head below your belly can make you feel more nauseous.
- Second trimester: If youre experiencing the typical second trimester energy surge, its a good time to master the stretching and strengthening moves including squats and stretches that tone the pelvic area and open the hips that will help prepare your body for labor.
- Third trimester: As your baby grows and your center of gravity moves forward, youre likely feeling increasingly uncomfortable. This makes your last few weeks of pregnancy a good time to focus on meditation and breathing techniques to calm your heartrate and help you to feel more centered. Doing so can help relieve any anxiety you might feel about your upcoming birth plus learning how to control your breathing now will pay off in labor and delivery .
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What You Need To Know
Remember to moderate your yoga routine to about 30 minutes and to never push yourself. Yoga is a means to relax, so there is no reason to push yourself, which isnt safe or healthy for an expecting mother.
While there are many benefits to yoga, it is important to remember not all yoga is safe for pregnant women.Yoga, such as Bikram, and other practices of yoga that require a hot environment, are not safe for the expecting mother. Doing those hot forms of yoga can cause hyperthermia.
Any poses in which you lie flat on your back, or require a lot of abdominal stretching, are also not recommended for pregnant women.Additionally, women who are at risk of premature labor are not recommended to practice prenatal yoga. It is important to consult your doctor before starting prenatal yoga.
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What Should You Bring To Class
Most classes can provide you with the required equipment including mats. I would recommend that you buy your own yoga mat for hygiene reasons.
Also, I want you to buy an approved yoga mat free from toxic chemicals.
Remember to take a water bottle so you can keep it handy with you at all times. And don’t forget your towel!
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What Should I Wear To My Yoga Class
This choice will vary with each person. Your body changes every week of pregnancy. So, your workout gear must also take this into account.
There is some maternity yoga wear you can buy where the elastic adapts to your growing belly. If at home you just want to wear comfortable pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. Why not!
So, wear what is comfortable for you. As long as it doesn’t inhibit your poses.
Tones Important Muscle Groups
Prenatal yoga “tones the physical body, especially the pelvic floor, hip, and abdominal core muscles, in preparation for the birthing process,” says Liz Owen, a Boston-based yoga teacher and the co-author of Yoga for a Healthy Lower Back: A Practical Guide to Developing Strength and Relieving Pain. A properly toned muscle has the right balance between length and strength it is neither too lax nor too tight. Building and maintaining muscle tone during pregnancy, with yoga poses like lunges and gentle backbends, can help minimize the aches and pains of those nine months, and are key in bringing your body back to a toned condition after delivery, Owen says.
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What Week Should I Start Prenatal Yoga
When may I begin practicing yoga while pregnant? If youve never done yoga before, the optimum time to begin is during the second trimester, which is around 14 weeks following conception. According to yoga standards , if you are not used to certain poses, you should avoid them during the first trimester.
Modifications And Poses To Avoid
Many prenatal adaptations are designed to accommodate a big belly and prevent compression of the uterus, issues that start to become relevant in the second trimester. During the first trimester, the uterus remains fairly small and the fetus is very well protected by the pelvis and amniotic fluid.
So, being stomach-down on the floor is still okay. However, if you have morning sickness you may want to avoid this position as it might trigger nausea.
The rapid hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy are likely to impact your practice, affecting your balance, flexibility, and ease getting into and out of poses. So, even if you’re an experienced yogi, approach each pose with fresh eyes and a bit of caution, especially as all that relaxin can make it easier to overstretch.
If you feel any discomfort, even in the first trimester, you may want to avoid those poses that feel off-putting. Most of all, remember you don’t need to try to advance your practice, but rather focus on becoming more in tune with your body and really listen to what it wants to do.
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So Whats The Bottom Line
One of the most important things I hope that women who take my prenatal yoga classes in Charleston, SC learn is how to tap into their inner wisdom to make the best choices for themselves and their families.
This is one of those cases where theres really no right answer, so you kind of just have to do what feels right in your gut.
If you have some energy and arent struggling with morning sickness or any other health issues, you can start joining in a prenatal yoga class at any time.
Not quite sure youre ready to leave your regular yoga class? I completely understand that, too. The video below will give you the basics of what poses youll want to start avoiding now that youre pregnant.
Prenatal Yoga : Frequently Asked Questions
Kim here. I teach the new prenatal yoga class at One Down Dog. When I tell people I am a prenatal yoga teacher, they usually have a lot of questions for me, pregnant or not. Here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding prenatal yoga. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and all of my answers are garnered from my education, experience, and research I have done. For a little more about me, see last weeks interview post. Check out our class schedule here if youre interested in trying a prenatal class. See you on the mat!
How is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga?The biggest difference is that everyone in the room is a pregnant woman! This results in a class tailored more specifically to address the aches and discomforts of pregnancy. Also, the aspect of community is a major part of prenatal yoga classes. Its a wonderful place to meet other women who are going through a similar experience as you, making it a great place to vent, share stories, get tips, or whatever else you may want to hear/say. The other difference is that the teacher is usually trained in prenatal yoga or at least has some experience with birth that qualifies them to teach this speciality, therefore they have a fairly good understanding of the process of pregnancy and birth and are comfortable offering options and answering questions.
Studies have suggested that practicing yoga during pregnancy can:
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Can Yoga Cause A Miscarriage
Yoga can not cause miscarriages nonetheless, if you are pregnant and are considering practicing yoga but are concerned that it could cause you to miscarry, my recommendation is always to refrain from doing so. While it may seem ridiculous to believe that yoga increases your chance of miscarriage, if you do believe this, you may come to blame yourself and your practice if you do experience a miscarriage.
Yoga Poses To Avoid When Pregnant:
4. Balancing on one leg
Seems pretty obvious, right?
Well, I have seen some instructors in classes and online videos teaching these poses to pregnant women.
Try the cat cow instead! And avoid deep twists. Try lie more on your left side. There are some great poses for hip openers. And only perform recommended prenatal yoga poses if it feels uncomfortable then stop.
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How Do I Take Savasana
After about the 20 week mark, Id recommend taking your savasana at the end of class lying on your left side. The left side promotes the the best circulation and blood flow to the placenta and baby. I find it comfortable to put a bolster under my head as a pillow and a block between my knees to support hip/pelvic alignment.
I hope you found this to be helpful. Remember, you are going to hear different advice from different sources and as Ive said a million times in this postlisten to your body as well as your doctor/health care provider.
Let me know if you have any other questions. Im super happy to answer them!
Did you practice yoga during your pregnancy? What was your experience like?
Do you have any other questions about prenatal yoga?
What Is The Difference Between Yoga And Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga classes focus on breathing, stretching, and use a gentler sequence of poses than a regular yoga class. They also make use of a lot of yoga props such as belts, bolsters, and blocks to assist in making the poses more comfortable for you.
The room temperature will not be elevated as it is for hot yoga because that could cause light-headedness and dehydration, two things you should definitely avoid when pregnant.
Prenatal yoga will not involve any poses with deep twists or lying on your back because these things put too much pressure on your organs and certain blood vessels that could potentially be unsafe for baby.
Pregnancy yoga focuses a lot on postures that strengthen the lower back, open the hips, and promote flexibility. You always want to remember, when you are stretching during your pregnancy, not to overdo it. The increased presence of relaxin in your body can make you more flexible but be careful not to tear anything!
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How To Practise Yoga During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a qualified yoga instructor can guide you much better than any DVD or Youtube video can. Whats even better is that a specialised instructor will be able to adapt your yoga routine and yoga poses to the individual needs of your body. This will help you chalk out a yoga plan that is attuned to your physical state and stage of pregnancy. Another great advantage is that youll meet other mums-to-be!
Here are some basic rules which should be adhered to by pregnant women when practising yoga:
- Avoid any asana that requires upside-down or inverted postures, like headstands, handstands or shoulder stands
A golden rule to keep in mind when practising yoga during pregnancy is to listen to your body, and stop immediately if you experience any discomfort. The postures should also be adjusted as per your changing mood and size of the bump.
Frequently Asked Prenatal Yoga Questions
I have received so many questions about prenatal yoga over the years and even more now that I am expecting myself. I have compiled a list of 10 frequently asked prenatal yoga questions so that you can have a one-stop resource for your common questions.
I have been practicing yoga for nine years and teaching yoga for seven years. During this time I have worked with a lot of pregnant students, completed a prenatal yoga teacher training and am now teaching and practicing through my own pregnancy. Im going to draw on my experience through teaching others, my prenatal teacher training and practicing through my pregnancy to provide answers.
Please remember to ALWAYS check with your doctor before adding anything new to your prenatal fitness routine and if your doctors answers differ from anything I outline below, please go with your doctors recommendation.
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Other Considerations For Deciding When To Start Prenatal Yoga
Other pregnant moms, however, feel like theyre not quite ready to jump into a prenatal yoga class until theyre into their second trimester. This might be a good decision for you if youre experiencing a lot of morning sickness or fatigue .
Women who have had a history of miscarriage or infertility might also want to wait until the pregnancy is well established before starting a yoga class.
Some women would just prefer to continue going to their regular yoga class until they need to make more modifications for a growing belly.
Of course, other moms simply feel uncomfortable going to a prenatal yoga class until they look or feel more pregnant. And you know what? Thats totally valid, too! The whole point of these classes is that they are a refuge for moms. Pregnant mamas in prenatal yoga should feel comfortable and like you belong, too!
Beneficial Yoga Poses For The First Trimester
A pregnant woman in her first trimester should be able to do most basic yoga poses, but it is crucial that she listen to her body and respect when she feels like exercise and when she just needs to rest.
Teach in a way that teaches students to trust their instincts, says Judith Hanson Lasater, a yoga teacher, physical therapist, and author of Yoga for Pregnancy. If something feels bad, stop if something feels really, really good, keep doing it. A pregnant womans intuition is why the human race is here, so I want them to learn to trust it.
Most standing poses are fine in the first trimester. Even balance poses such as Vrksasana and Garudasana are okay, provided they are done near the wall in case the student loses her balance. Strengthening the leg muscles and the pelvic floor is important preparation for later phases of pregnancy, and it encourages good circulation in the legs to prevent cramping as blood pressure starts to drop. Standing twists such as Parivrtta Trikonasana and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana , however, should be avoided because of the pressure they put on the abdominal cavity.
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Trikonasana Or Triangle Pose
This is a great asana to ease digestive troubles related to pregnancy and also improves the flexibility of the hips.
How to Perform
- Stand erect and keep your feet joined together
- Rest your hands on either side of the body. Make sure your palms are facing your thighs
- Slowly spread your legs. Make sure the toes of both your legs are parallel to each other
- Lift your hands, while the palms facing the floor. Your hands should be aligned with your shoulders
- Take a deep breath and bend towards your left. At the same time, lift your right hand up
- Tilt your head to the left and fix your gaze on the right hand fingertips
- Hold the position and count to 10 or 20. Continue breathing normally as you do so. Do not hold your breath
- Exhale slowly and lift your body up to come back to the first pose
- Repeat the same steps on the other side