Are you wondering what is prenatal yoga for yourself or for someone you care about?
Prenatal yoga is a holistic practice developed specifically for pregnant women. Prenatal yoga helps women through their 9-month journey to connect with their unborn baby.
Prenatal yoga eases the discomforts of pregnancy. Prenatal yoga prepares the mum physically and emotionally to deal with the pregnancy. Prenatal yoga provides a calm environment for mum and baby.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient holistic practice that includes all aspects of life. Yoga was developed in India around 5000 years ago. The word Yoga means unity or oneness. It comes from the Sanskrit word Yuj, which means to join.
Yoga involves your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being. Yoga means that the connection you have between your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body is in balance.
Yoga as a practice is asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, and diet. You can practice yoga and include all its aspects or you can choose to do only one of these aspects.
At a physical level yoga can help you to accept yourself the way you are. Yoga can bring awareness to your body and calmness to your mind. So that you give yourself what you need. For example, to recognise when you need rest, food, or sleep.
There are many different types of yoga. Some of them are specific to one aspect of life, such as Prenatal yoga and Restorative yoga.
What is prenatal yoga?
Prenatal yoga has been developed exclusively for pregnant women. Prenatal yoga uses some of the common poses of yoga, but with modifications that will avoid injury to pregnant women.
Prenatal yoga poses take into account your changing body during pregnancy. Prenatal yoga uses modified poses that are safe for you and your baby.
During pregnancy, your body changes week by week. What you found comfortable for one week is no longer the case the following week. The food you loved is no longer bearable. Your likes and dislikes are enhanced.
Pregnancy is a unique journey for every woman. Prenatal yoga is based on yoga exercises that are safe for pregnant women to perform. Prenatal yoga will keep your body flexible and strong without risks of injuries to your joints, ligaments, or back.
Prenatal yoga not only supports your body during your pregnancy, but it also supports you mentally by connecting you with your unborn baby.
You will be more calm and aware of what’s going on in your mind and body. You will also be able to provide a safe growing environment with more peace and love for your growing unborn baby.
Why prenatal yoga?
Pregnancy can be the most beautiful time in your life, but it can also be a scary period if you don’t have the right support and information.
A prenatal yoga class can support you through your pregnancy. Your body and mind will be at ease.
Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time. The worries about your health and the health of your unborn baby can be stressful. You can be overwhelmed by the uncertainties related to giving birth and the life that will unfold after giving birth.
Sharing the prenatal yoga experience with other mums to be will help you accept the changes that are happening in your body. You can make friends in the prenatal class and share your pregnancy experiences. A prenatal class is more than just a class is a motherhood community.
Prenatal yoga will help you relax and keep you fit during your pregnancy. You will keep your body moving through subtle movements that do not put pressure on your back, belly, or knees.
I recommend you attend a prenatal yoga class. Doing prenatal yoga online may not be the best. You won’t be able to see if you are doing the poses right or make specific adjustments for you. A prenatal yoga instructor has taken a specific course to teach you this type of yoga and to support you through it.
What to expect from a prenatal yoga class?
Prenatal yoga classes are different depending on the yoga instructor. But they will usually teach you breathing techniques that will help you deal with pain during labour and delivery.
During a prenatal yoga class, you will also experience guided meditations and birth affirmations. This will bring a lot of peace to your mind and will make a space for connection with your unborn baby.
A prenatal yoga class can be anything from 30 minutes to one hour and a half. The class starts with a moment for grounding in silence with some breathing before initiating the practice. Then, a warm-up, followed by a gentle practice. Before finishing you will do a meditation and the class will end with relaxation.
A prenatal yoga class usually involves some time at the beginning and at the end of each class for sharing your pregnancy experience with other mums to be.
During a prenatal yoga class, you will make use of props, tools to help you achieve a pose. These props are blocks, blankets, cushions, and bolsters that will help you be more comfortable and safe during your practice.
Prenatal yoga isn’t just about postures, you can benefit from the meditations, relaxation, and breathing techniques.
Prenatal yoga classes usually make use of birth affirmations. These birth affirmations can help you connect with your unborn baby and to trust your inner guidance. You will feel safe and grounded.
When to start prenatal yoga?
You are probably considering starting yoga as a way to help you cope with the discomforts of pregnancy and to keep fit during this 9-month journey.
The good news is that you can start prenatal yoga at any time. The earlier you start, the better. But as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, that’s the right time. Prenatal yoga will help you through every stage of your pregnancy.
Your body will be changing at every stage of the pregnancy, and prenatal yoga can provide you the physical and emotional support at every step of the way.
Prenatal yoga doesn’t aim to be a fitness class. It aims to provide you a space to relax, explore your emotions, share your experience, and provide you with exercises that will release the discomforts of your pregnancy.
So whether you are in the first, second, or third trimester of your pregnancy, prenatal yoga can help you.
Which yoga is the best during pregnancy?
Prenatal yoga classes usually follow Hatha yoga poses with some adjustments to make them suitable during pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga makes use of props to help you achieve a posture. It involves modified asanas, breathing, meditation, relaxation, and time for sharing with other mums to be.
There is another not that known yoga for pregnancy, which is Kundalini yoga for pregnant women. Kundalini yoga for pregnancy is based on Yogi Bhajan’s teachings. It uses kundalini yoga poses, breath, mantra, and relaxation techniques to empower you through pregnancy, as well as, prepare you for birthing.
Kundalini yoga for pregnancy aims to help women through the 9-month journey. The main focus is on developing a deep connection with your unborn baby. The Kundalini yoga practice will help you with balancing your emotions and prepare you for labour.
Kundalini yoga for pregnancy uses breathing techniques to calm and release stress. Through the exercises, your body deals with the aches and pains of pregnancy and prepares for delivery. Kundalini yoga uses mantras, meditation, and relaxation to relax your mind.
Whichever prenatal yoga you choose, you will see great benefits from the community of mums to be you will be sharing the space with. Check which prenatal yoga is in your area and attend a class to see if you enjoy it. Remember this is a journey to be enjoyed.
Is prenatal yoga safe?
Prenatal yoga is safe for most women. If you are healthy and have no health issues during your pregnancy, it shouldn’t be a problem to practice prenatal yoga.
But if you experience hypertension, a high-risk pregnancy, persistent cervical bleeding, or any other condition for which you require medical attention or medicines, you should consult your doctor about any type of exercise you want to do, including prenatal yoga.
Prenatal yoga is a safe practice. Prenatal yoga instructors are trained to help pregnant women to practice yoga poses, which won’t put their bodies at risk.
The yoga poses for pregnancy are usually modifications of common yoga poses, but that depending on your flexibility, level of fitness, and stage of your pregnancy, they will be personally adjusted.
When you practice prenatal yoga or any other type of exercise during pregnancy, remember to listen to your body. You should never do any movement that causes you pain or discomfort. Always stop, access how you feel and be ok to not do a pose you don’t feel comfortable with.
If you experience any discomfort, dizziness, vaginal discharge, calf pain or swelling, pressure on your pelvis, belly cramps, or backache after a prenatal yoga class, call your doctor to check everything is ok.
Prenatal yoga poses to avoid
You may have never done yoga before your prenatal yoga class or you may have experience in some type of yoga.
The reality is that whatever yoga or exercise you did before you were pregnant may no longer be good for you now.
Your belly will be growing week by week during your pregnancy. It may be safe to do poses on your belly for the first month or so. But, it’s best to avoid any poses on your belly after that time.
Lying on your belly will compress your womb and may hurt your unborn baby.
During pregnancy avoid:
- Abdominal exercises like crunches.
- Doing exercise in hot temperatures (Bikram and Hot yoga are a definite no during pregnancy).
- Down dog, if you are nauseous.
- Deep or closed twists.
- Inversions such as headstands, handstands, or scorpion.
- Jumps-throughs and jump-backs.
- Extreme hip movements.
- Overstretching in any pose.
- Staying in any pose for too long that you feel pain.
- Holding the breath during poses.
- Breathing techniques that generate heat such as Kapalabhati and Breath of Fire.
- Applying any bandhas.
- Lying on your back after the second trimester.
Prenatal yoga benefits
A prenatal yoga class will bring you benefits to your mind, body, and spirit.
Prenatal yoga will:
- Connect you with your unborn baby
- Help you listen to your body
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Prevents and treats depression
- Increase your flexibility
- Increase your strength and stamina
- Improve your mood
- Help you sleep better
- Improve your circulation and posture
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Help you feel less fatigue
- Help you have a stable weight
- Calm your mind
- Help you accept the changes that are happening
- Help you recognise your feelings and allow them to be
- Overcoming fears about giving birth
- Relieve pregnancy discomforts
- Ease lower back and neck pain
- Give you a feel of belonging to a motherhood community
- Allow you to share your pregnancy experience and feel supported
Prenatal yoga can provide you the physical, emotional, and the community support you may need during your pregnancy. Pregnancy is a journey, a relationship of 9-months that you and your unborn baby will experience together. What you feel and experience, your unborn baby will do as well.
Being pregnant is a responsibility, you are bringing a new human being, a new soul to fulfill a purpose. Your body knows what to do during this time, you just need to listen to it. You need to give it what it needs.
To be able to give your body what it needs, you need to quiet your mind of all the worries and fears that pregnancy may bring to you. Prenatal yoga does exactly that. Prenatal yoga grounds you so that you can provide support to your baby.
Hopefully, by now, you are clearer on what is prenatal yoga and how you can benefit from it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the downward dog ok when pregnant?
Downward dog is an inversion pose. This type of pose is not recommended because when you do it, your head is lowered than your heart and belly, which can cause nausea and heartburn. Learn more
Is prenatal yoga enough exercise?
Prenatal yoga provides you all the exercise you may need during pregnancy. Remember pregnancy is a time to look after yourself and be gentle with your body. Learn more
Can you do squats while pregnant?
Yes, squats are fine to do during pregnancy. Learn more
Does yoga help with giving birth?
Yoga helps your body to be more flexible, and release the discomforts during pregnancy. Mentally you are also calmer and more in control of your body so giving birth can become an experience that you can manage. Learn more
What to wear to prenatal yoga?
You can use loose and comfortable clothing to a prenatal yoga class. The fabric material of your clothing is of your choice. But, natural fabrics are best to keep you fresh and provide you warmth at the same time. Learn more
How often should you do prenatal yoga?
You can do prenatal yoga every day if you wish. But, you need to be careful about not overstretching. Usually, prenatal yoga classes are run 2 or 3 times a week, this provides you enough physical exercise. But you can practice meditation, chanting, and relaxation at home every day without any side effects. Learn more
Is prenatal yoga safe for a high-risk pregnancy?
The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor and follow their advice. Your doctor will be the best person to tell you what you can and cannot do. But, you can always join a prenatal yoga class for the other aspects of meditation, breathing exercises, affirmations, and relaxation. Learn more
Can you do prenatal yoga at home?
You can probably do prenatal yoga at home. But, I wouldn’t advise it. Being under the care of a yoga instructor that can see your posture and give you the right exercises is more valuable. No all pregnant women are the same, or experience the same. So do prenatal yoga in a class, it would be safer that way. Learn more