Whether it’s from friends, family, a pregnancy book, or doctors, expecting moms are often encouraged to try prenatal yoga. Find out if it’s a good fit for you.
When Should I Start?
You can start taking prenatal yoga classes as soon as you find out that you are expecting. Consider starting a meditation practice during your first trimester if you are experiencing symptoms such as nausea or low energy. Apps like Mind the Bump offer free guided meditations for new and expecting moms.
As your energy increases with your second trimester, it is a great time to start a physical yoga practice. Prenatal yoga classes support the mental and physical changes that you are experiencing. Your teacher will guide you through a class that is safe for both you and your baby. Attend in-person or Zoom classes through local yoga studios, or find a variety of free classes on YouTube.
What Can I Expect From a Prenatal Yoga Class?
Prenatal yoga supports mothers through the magical experience of growing a baby. You don’t need to be an experienced yogi or athlete to take prenatal yoga classes. Prenatal yoga is gentle, low impact, and suitable for all experience levels. Prenatal yoga classes use props such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks to support your body and your growing bump.
Your class will include a mix of seated and standing postures, guided breathing, stretching, and relaxation. You will learn breathing exercises that teach you to relax through discomfort, and how to use those exercises during your labor and delivery. Another benefit of prenatal yoga is the opportunity to meet a community of women and connect with other expecting mothers.
What Is the Difference Between Regular Yoga and Prenatal Yoga?
Regular yoga classes include a wide variety of movements such as core work and belly-down postures, which are not recommended for pregnant women. In a regular yoga class, your yoga teacher may or may not know how to modify the practice for expecting mothers. Prenatal yoga teachers are trained to teach classes that are safe for pregnant women.
Regular yoga classes include poses that strengthen and stretch. Prenatal classes are strategically sequenced to strengthen the muscle groups used in childbirth and to ease pregnancy side effects like back and lower body pain. Prenatal classes avoid postures that may cause strain on you or your baby, such as deep twists or inversions.
Breathing exercises, known in Sanskrit as pranayama, are taught in many yoga classes. Regular yoga classes teach a variety of breathing exercises; however, not all are recommended for pregnant women. If you take regular yoga classes, do not take part in any breathing exercises that instruct you to hold your breath.
Prenatal yoga classes teach breathing and meditation techniques to empower your birth experience. You learn how to loosen and relax into your body when you feel pain, rather than tightening up and resisting. Always use caution and your best judgment when trying new breathing exercises. If you feel light-headed or dizzy, return to normal breathing.
What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Yoga?
There are many benefits for both your mind and body.
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves sleep
- Increases muscle strength and flexibility
- Provides relief from pregnancy symptoms such as lower back pain, nausea, and stiffness
- Encourages connection with your baby
- Prepares you for labor and delivery
Like all forms of exercise, it is important to pace yourself and start slow. Begin your prenatal yoga journey by taking one to two classes per week. As you become more comfortable in your yoga practice, consider increasing the frequency. Drink plenty of water before and after class to remain hydrated. Consult your doctor before participating in prenatal yoga or any form of exercise while pregnant.
Morgan Stritzinger is a registered yoga teacher, who completed her training in 2016. She began yoga to cope with anxiety and fell in love with the practice. Join her classes at Downtown Yoga Memphis every Tuesday at 5:30 pm and Grind City Brewery on Thursdays at 5:30 pm. Check out her blog at Findingmyom.com or connect on Instagram @FindingMyOm.