We have all read, and perhaps experienced, the many benefits of yoga. Including why it is often recommended during pregnancy. But what if you already practise yoga and don't want to leave your regular class and favourite teacher? Perhaps you still want to enjoy a more dynamic practise and are afraid that prenatal yoga is only about the baby, birth and too relaxing?
This is what you need to know on how to transition from being a regular yoga student to a blissful pregnant yogini Goddess.
1) Let your teacher know you are pregnant
Pregnancy is not a disease, illness or injury. But the body does change a lot. It is not just the growing bump and breasts but there are other things to consider. Not all yoga teachers are qualified, insured or comfortable teaching at this time of change. But she/he might know some excellent teachers who are, where you can continue your regular practise or recommend a pregnancy class in a style you enjoy.
2) Take it easy
The first 14 weeks of pregnancy are a very special time. A few cells grow to become a fetus and a placenta becomes the nourishment for a new life. To let the body do what it needs to do give yourself space and relax. Most pregnancy yoga teachers advice to take it very easy or even omit practise during the first trimester. Especially if you have a history of repeated miscarriages. Yoga or other exercise do not cause a miscarriage and if you feel happy and healthy you might want to keep your practise going but enjoy a more restorative practise with advice from your yoga instructor.
3) Stability before flexibility
A pregnant body produces higher levels of a hormone called relaxin. This causes the ligaments to "relax" to create space for the growing baby and for birth. But the whole body can become hypermobile. So think of creating stability rather than over stretching. Go only 50-80% of what you possibly could do and never more than what you could before you became pregnant.
4) Creating space
Throughout pregnancy we are focusing on creating space. If a pregnant yogini is used to uddiyana bandha (lifting the lower belly in and up) you will need to let it go. There is no room or reason for strong abdominal or core practice. Closed twists and deep forward bends are also limited. Not just because of the growing bump but also because we focus on softening and space.
6) Mix it up
Some yoga teachers will not accommodate for pregnant yoginis. With good reason. If they don't have training in prenatal yoga or the knowledge of how pregnancy changes the body it may be best left to the professionals. But even if your regular teacher is also trained in pregnancy yoga it may be good to mix it up. Prenatal yoga focus on how to practise with a pregnant body, how to make transitions, movement and poses are adapted for complaints many pregnant women might encounter. Try different prenatal classes. Some will focus on labour and birth, some are more meditative, some classes are very similar to what is practised in a regular yoga class.
Finally accept that everything changes all the time. Nothing stays the same and so your practise will also change. Enjoy your practise and congratulations with your growing bump.
In Anja's regular yoga classes you can find all levels of yoga practitioners as well as pregnant yoginis. She teaches specific prenatal yoga classes as well as training other yoga teachers to teach pregnancy and postnatal yoga in teacher training programmes and cpd courses.