Oms the word
Prenatal yoga can offer a great combination of exercise and relaxation for mums-to-be.
Pregnancy yoga is a gentle class of up to 90 minutes that typically includes stretches, breathing practices, modified yoga poses and meditation.
It’s one way to help keep you fit, and it may also help to reduce stress and anxiety, so it’s no surprise that practicing yoga during pregnancy is becoming so popular.
The physical benefits of prenatal yoga include building flexibility, strength, and stamina. Some yoga poses may also help to release upper body tension, improve posture, tone your pelvic floor and ease lower back discomfort.
The focused breathing techniques practiced during prenatal yoga may help to make you feel calm and promote restful sleep.
Anahata Giri, director of One Heart Yoga & Meditation in Melbourne, has been practising yoga for 25 years and teaching prenatal yoga for 12. She explains that prenatal yoga can help women to relax, which can help you prepare for birth.
“Yoga helps you to explore the art of deep relaxation, acceptance and ‘letting go’.”
Prenatal yoga classes can also be a great way of meeting other mums-to-be in your local area.
What to expect from a prenatal yoga class
Whether you are an experienced yogi or you don’t know your hatha from your iyengar, prenatal yoga can be adapted for most skill levels and offers an adaptable, gentle way to exercise during pregnancy.
“A prenatal yoga class will typically include postures and flowing sequences, all adapted to suit pregnant women’s needs. It will also include breathing, relaxation and meditation. All practices will be adapted to suit the level of yoga experience, stage of pregnancy and any of the common ailments that may occur for pregnant women,” explains Giri.
No Gandha Bherundasan (‘formidable face’) poses!
Some yoga moves are not recommended for pregnant women, including:
- strong bends and twists
- lying on your back for extended periods of time
- inversions (where your head is below your hips) as this can affect your blood pressure lying on your tummy.
It’s also wise to avoid the more vigorous and strenuous bikram (hot yoga) and ashtanga (power yoga) during pregnancy.
What to remember
- Check in with your doctor before signing up for a yoga program (or any other exercise classes).
- It is generally advised to wait until after the first trimester (around 12 weeks) before starting yoga or new or strenuous exercise
- Listen to your body – don’t push yourself, rest when you need to.
- Keep hydrated before, during and after the class.
- Chat to your instructor if you have any concerns or questions about the class.
“The aim is for pregnant women to feel comfortable, safe and supported throughout their yoga class,” says Giri. “Women can use their breath as a guide for their practice, keeping the breath even and relaxed throughout. You can expect to feel nourished, relaxed and inspired after a prenatal yoga class.”
Don’t worry if you are a yoga novice. You never know – it could be the start of a lifelong yoga journey!