Practising yoga while pregnant can be extremely helpful and beneficial, not just for the pregnancy but also for a quicker recovery after labour. In this blog post, we focus on the key considerations for yoga during pregnancy and give you some ideas on how your practice might need to change when you’re expecting a baby.
Especially if you’re new to yoga, it’s essential to have a knowledgeable yoga teacher to guide you during your pregnancy because each body and pregnancy are different. However, there are some general considerations for yoga during pregnancy – things that you can ask yourself before starting the practice and take into account while practising.
1. Did you practise yoga before your pregnancy? What was your practice like?
If you have never practised yoga before, the best and safest way to start yoga during your pregnancy is most likely pregnancy specific yoga. Pregnancy is not the time to start new, strong exercise regimes, especially if they haven’t been a regular part of your life before.
Pregnancy yoga classes are taught by teachers who are trained in yoga for pregnancy and the movements are readily modified to suit a pregnant body. These classes also often include breathing and birthing practices that prepare the mothers for labour.
2. Make space for the baby
In many yoga poses, look for variations that don’t compress or strongly twist the belly area. We call this “making space for the baby”. Especially after the first trimester, avoid lying down on the belly poses and ask the teacher for safe twisting variations. It can be helpful to use more props in the practice and potentially use the wall as a support in balancing poses.
3. Be careful not to overstretch
In a pregnant body, the hormone Relaxin makes ligaments and muscles laxer (especially in the pelvic region) in order to prepare for labour. Overall, the body is changing, so it’s important to listen to the body extra carefully and pull back rather than push further. It’s recommended to do more strengthening and stabilising practices as well as “tension release” rather than stretching. Note that Yin yoga is not recommended during pregnancy, so look for more restorative practices and movement.
4. Learn to rest!
Pregnancy, labour and having a newborn to look after can be exhausting, so it’s important to learn to rest and slow down already during pregnancy. This is your time to prepare both physically and mentally for the new phase in life 😊 Learning to slow down and conserve energy, even in your yoga practice, might become a handy skill sooner than you expect. It’s also vital to start listening to your body and do things that feel good and avoid things that feel bad. How things feel might change dramatically during your pregnancy, so be open for change.
As a summary, yoga is a wonderful tool to support your pregnancy and parenthood. It is important to look after oneself, both physically and mentally, to have energy to look after the little one. If you’re curious about pregnancy specific yoga, there are a lot of self-study materials out there but remember that a qualified teacher is always the best guide if you’re new to yoga.
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