Prenatal yoga is a style of yoga designed specifically for pregnant women. It’s a wonderful way to prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for labor and delivery. It will also bring a sense of peace and calm during the 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga is created specifically for pregnant women. There are many benefits for the body and mind for mother and baby. Prenatal yoga classes safely accommodate all of the changes that women go through during this special time. Find out below if yoga for pregnancy is right for you.
What is Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga classes include postures, breathing exercises and meditations that are designed specifically for pregnant women. As the body changes, traditional yoga classes can become too challenging. It is important to always get permission from your doctor before trying pregnancy yoga classes.
Once you have permission from your doctor, yourBuddhi has a wide variety of prenatal yoga classes for you to try. Each trimester brings different needs. Go to the prenatal yoga page to find classes that work for you in each special chapter of your pregnancy.
Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
There are so many reasons to try prenatal yoga! Pregnancy is not a one size fits all experience. It’s a beautiful roller coaster ride of emotions and transformation. Yoga during pregnancy can be a very helpful tool to navigate your journey.
Maternity Yoga is Customized Specifically For You
If you’ve already been practicing yoga before you became pregnant, you may enjoy attending regular yoga classes through your entire pregnancy. When a student already has a lot of experience, they will know how to modify instinctually as the belly grows.
However if you have never done yoga before, prenatal yoga is the place to start. You will learn postures and breathing exercises that are completely safe for you to do throughout your pregnancy. You won’t have to question whether something is right for you and can completely relax.
Learn About the Breath in Pregnancy Yoga
One of the most powerful benefits if yoga is learning how to breathe. Of course we all “know how” to breathe, we do it all day and night without even thinking about it. Breath is both a voluntary and involuntary mechanism. In yoga we control the breath.
Have you ever noticed that when you get nervous, scared or angry, your breath gets shorter and faster? This is part of the body’s physiological stress response. The body reacts to an external stimulus that could be dangerous but it also reacts to or our internal emotional state.
Pregnancy is a roller coaster of emotions, especially for first timers. It’s all new and can be surprising and confusing. Learning how to use the breath to calm yourself is invaluable. Prenatal yoga includes many breathing exercises that are safe and effective.
Once you learn how to control and focus on the breath in yoga, you can use it any time you need to find peace and calm. It’s also enormously effective through labor and delivery. Even if you are getting an epidural, you will at some point feel and experience contractions.
Deep, steady breathing through the nose (and through mouth when laboring) will help you ride the intense waves of contractions. Knowing how to use the breath as a laboring tool will come more naturally to you if you practice prenatal yoga throughout your pregnancy.
Build Strength and Flexibility
There are things we can’t control during pregnancy. Some women are nauseous for part of the time, some are for the whole time and some don’t experience it at all. Some women say “I love being pregnant” and some say “I can’t wait for this to be over!”
Prenatal yoga can help you through those not so great days. As the belly grows, the low back experiences a bit of strain. The weight the baby pulls the lumbar spine into a deeper state of extension and it can cause tension and discomfort.
It’s also important to promote both strength and flexibility during pregnancy. Many people say that prenatal yoga helps to “open the hips.” While this is true, there is more to it than that. As in both pregnancy and regular life, the body needs both strength and flexibility.
Pregnancy yoga maintains and creates this balance of strength and openness. You want the hips to be as strong as they are open. Prenatal yoga also focuses on connecting with the pelvic floor through both breath and movement. This connection is crucial for a successful labor and delivery.
Prenatal yoga helps you to have a more positive physical experience during pregnancy. It will help you to inhabit your body in a more comfortable way rather than feeling like something has taken you over. Women love the subtle movements created specifically for the pregnant body.
Connect With Your Baby
The combination of breath and movement creates a space for deep introspection and connection within. This inward focus creates a connection with the baby that is hard to describe in words but can be experienced by pregnant women who do prenatal yoga.
Women report all sorts of interesting occurrences while pregnant. Perhaps it’s something more symbolic like meeting your baby in a dream. Or it’s more in the physical realm like feeling your baby move for the first time. These examples of connection can bring on feelings of intense joy and bliss.
Yoga for pregnancy is a great way to facilitate experiences of connection with your baby. Breath and movement calm the mind and helps to open you up to what’s happening inside of you. Being open physically helps you to be open both mentally and emotionally as well.
Many pregnant women experience trouble sleeping, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. As the belly grows, lying face down or on the back becomes pretty much impossible. However, there are many comfortable ways to prop yourself lying on the side.
Learn to use props such as bolsters, blankets and pillows to create an incredibly comfortable side lying position. Placing something under the top thigh supports the lower back and hips. Placing something underneath the head at the right height is a great way to support the next and shoulders.
Prenatal breathwork also plays a huge role in improved sleep. Stress is a key player in difficulty sleeping and breath is known to calm the nervous system. The breath you learn in prenatal yoga can be done in bed to ease you way into a peaceful night’s sleep.
Safety Guidelines For Prenatal Yoga
Before beginning any exercise program when pregnant, it’s important to clear it with your obgyn. Once you have permission from your doctor, you can choose from our library of prenatal yoga classes on yourBuddhi.com. There are classes for each trimester and general classes that can be done throughout pregnancy.
If you already had a yoga practice before becoming pregnant, you can continue going to the same type of yoga classes with permission from your doctor. As the belly grows, you will find ways to modify to make it all work.
It is important to listen to the messages your body sends during class. This happens with any yoga classes, but especially with prenatal yoga. If something doesn’t feel quite right, take a break or back off from what you are doing.
Listen to the Body in Pregnancy Yoga
One way the body tells you to back off is through the breath. Firstly, if you aren’t able to breathe deeply and easily through the nose during a pose or sequence, this is a message to slow down or rest. Maintain a steady rhythm of breathing through the whole class.
Secondly, if a pose feels like it’s compressing the abdominal region in any way, back off. We want to keep the belly area very spacious at all times. Postures such as forward folding or anything on the belly may feel uncomfortable. Listen to this and back off when needed.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time for introspection and inner listening. It’s certainly not the time to be goal oriented in the physical sense or to feel competitive. Take it super easy and just go with the flow of it all.
Prenatal yoga is much safer and much more enjoyable if you listen closely to what the body is telling you. Pregnancy is a time where your intuition is on full blast. Prenatal yoga facilitates a space for you to listen to that inner knowing.
Prenatal Yoga Poses for Each Trimester
The physical and emotional needs of a pregnant woman change with each trimester. Women often feel very tired in the first trimester. As a result, they may not want to do much exercise or anything else for that matter. Women often report getting their energy back in the second trimester.
Being able to choose classes based on what trimester you are in is one of the best parts about our online prenatal videos. If you are feeling fatigue and low energy, it’s hard to muster up the motivation to take go take a class at a studio.
First trimester yoga classes can range from very gentle to more physically vigorous. The body hasn’t changed much and you can still easily lie on your stomach, fold forward and do some gently twisting. It’s important to listen to the body and be okay with taking breaks and resting.
In the second trimester, the belly starts to grow and it will start to feel uncomfortable to lie in any facedown position. Women often report feeling discomfort when lying on the back as well. Our second trimester videos accommodate for the growing body.
During the third trimester, the belly is very large. Women move slower and have a very calm energy about them. The postures in yoga for the third trimester and very gentle. They promote a mild range of strength and flexibility to prepare the soon coming labor.
The following poses are all wonderful for any trimester of pregnancy. You will practice all of these in our prenatal yoga videos.
Cat and cow are two postures done on all fours. They are woven together with the breath and moves the pelvis and spine in a gentle way. It loosens up the lower back and gentle activates the core. This is safe for all three trimesters of pregnancy.
Low lunge is also appropriate for all three trimesters. This posture gently opens the quads and hip flexors. It helps to bring length to the spine and the sides of the body. Take several deep breaths here to lift the ribs away from the belly.
Malasana is a deep squat. This is a classic prenatal yoga pose and is an excellent way to prepare the body for labor. It’s important to activate the feet, legs and hips while allowing the tailbone to relax down toward the earth for both strength and flexibility.
Pigeon feels wonderful throughout pregnancy. As the belly grows it gets more difficulty to lie down onto the forehead. However this posture can be done propped up on the hands or forearms as well. That way you not only get a deep hip opener but a nice backbend as well.
Easy Forward Fold
As the belly gets bigger, forward folding gets more difficult. But an easy standing forward fold is always possible. During the first trimester, the feet can be hip distance apart. In the second trimester, place the feet about mat width apart.
In the third trimester, separate the feet wider than the mat and lean the hips against a wall for support. Let the upper body hang with the knees soft. Catch opposite elbows. This posture is a great way to release low back tension and relax the head and neck.
What to Avoid During All Three Trimesters of Pregnancy
As we have mentioned above, a women’s intuition is on hyperdrive when pregnant. It’s an amazing opportunity to listen to the messages our body sends and heed them. Especially when it comes to any type of yoga or movement program.
Even if you are an avid yogi or workout woman, you never know how you’re going to feel when you’re pregnant. During a prenatal yoga class, there may be things that you are used to doing with no problem but suddenly certain movements or positions just won’t feel right.
When you get a “message” from the body like this, always take a break, slow down or rest. There is no reason to be disappointed or to ever feel competitive with yourself or others during a yoga class, especially during pregnancy.
Classic Prenatal Yoga Recommendations
Classically, women are told to avoid deep twists during pregnancy. This is so that the abdominal area stays spacious and the womb is always at its fullest expression. However many pregnant women love the way twists feel in the lower back.
As long as you don’t push or force yourself into a deep twist, spinal twists are okay. Just maintain deep breathing and approach these postures in a gentle manner. Yoga teachers have also recommended that pregnant women avoid inversions. However this is not always correct either.
If you are new to yoga and you have never done an inversion such as headstand, handstand or forearm stand, pregnancy is definitely not the time to give them a try. However if you already have a strong inversion practice going into pregnancy, they are ok.
Just remember our balance can become a bit compromised, even in the first trimester. Inversions are not worth the possibility of falling and hurting yourself. If you feel the need to go upside down, make sure you are close to a wall for support.
Lying on the back in the second and third trimester should be avoided. The entire weight of the growing uterus and baby can be too much pressure for your back, intestines and vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body.
Prenatal Yoga At Home
If you have a local yoga studio that offers prenatal yoga classes, try it out. You’ll find a sense of community with other women going through the same thing you are. A prenatal yoga teacher can be a wonderful guide to help you navigate the pregnancy experience.
However not everyone has the time to make it to public classes, especially if you are working a full time job. Prenatal yoga classes are often at off times and hard to make the time for. Online prenatal yoga classes are the perfect solution.
YourBuddhi.com has the quintessential prenatal yoga library that will meet your needs throughout each trimester. Go to our prenatal yoga page and find classes of all different lengths from 20 – 60 minute classes. Even just a 20 minute class can make you feel like a hole new woman.
Props are very helpful for pregnancy yoga. Buy yourself a yoga mat, two blocks, a strap and a bolster. Bolsters are expensive and seem like just another pillow, however they are very dense and supportive. Buy a bolster, they are totally worth the investment!
It can also be helpful to designate an area of the house for your home prenatal practice. The more yoga you do there, the more sacred and special the place becomes. Put a vase of flowers or a potted plant and a candle with your mat and props.
Once you’ve created your yoga space and have all the gear, you’ll feel more dedicated and motivated to do your prenatal yoga practice. Three classes per week will make a huge difference in your pregnancy, labor and delivery. You’ll create a very special connection with yourself and your baby.
Yoga For Pregnancy Really Works
Sign up for yourBuddhi.com and get your first two weeks free. Give our prenatal yoga classes a try and feel free to email us any questions that you have. We are here to help. Both of our owners, Amanda and Carolina, swear by yoga during pregnancy.
Both mothers and avid yogis, they both credit practicing yoga during their pregnancies as the saving grace when faced with different challenges. Prenatal yoga makes pregnancy a more enjoyable and smooth experience for both mother and baby. Try it today and feel the difference!