As a yoga teacher and a mother of a rowdy toddler, the inevitable topic of yoga and, more specifically, Prenatal Yoga often manages to come up. It comes up at the doctor's, gynaecologist (this one is easy to explain), at the osteopath, and even at a routine teeth cleaning at the dentist (not so easy to explain).
It seems to be a widely discussed area within the vastness that is yoga as well. Women today are actively encouraged to practice prenatal yoga during their pregnancy which, as a past ridiculously round and sciatica-riddled pregnant person, I can only say...THANK GOODNESS!
Prenatal yoga can help develop the strength and stamina needed not only for pregnancy but also for childbirth itself. A prenatal yoga practice can offer welcome relief from tension that occurs in the back and hips while aiding the body's circulatory system—which is no small thing considering the extra 50% of blood you are lugging around!
Prenatal vs. Regular Classes
If you have never experienced yoga before and wish to practice during your pregnancy, then there can be no doubt that a prenatal class is your way to go. But what happens when you already have an established yoga practice? The question of prenatal yoga vs. your regular yoga practice is not such an easy question to navigate.
There are many yogi mothers-to-be who welcome a prenatal class with open and grateful arms. A prenatal yoga class can offer a safe space to practice with a teacher who knows how much your body has and is about to change.
You will feel confident to modify asanas without any fear of judgement and not to mention the overall feeling of camaraderie, understanding, and for some first time mummies-to-be, the knowledge that you are not the only pregnant person in the world.
Yoga was the only part of my day when I was not a pregnant woman, but just a me.~ Katy Scherer
Slowing your practice down, learning the appropriate modifications and focusing on where your mind and body are at this particular time in your life can be a wondrous thing.
Modifying Your Regular Practice
For other pregnant yogis, the pace of a prenatal class and the attention to modification can prove to be a little tedious especially for those with a strong background in Vinyasa.
When you are used to a dynamic yoga class, you can feel like you have taken one giant leap backward in your practice especially when you are only in the first few weeks of your second trimester. This is why many yoga practitioners chose to stay with their regular teacher and continue attending class until this is no longer possible.
Continuing with your regular yoga class can offer up a plethora of advantages. Hopefully your yoga teacher not only knows you but also understands your body and its pre-pregnancy limitations. This can be handy for when Relaxin, the hormone produced by the ovaries and placenta to help soften the ligaments and pelvis in preparation for the birth kick in.
If you're suddenly managing to get into Hanumanasana after years of trying, he or she will know to pull you back and help you to re-establish your physical boundaries.
How Prenatal Yoga Helped Me
Prenatal yoga offers a fantastic and somewhat unique platform to connect and focus on yourself, your pregnancy, and the most wonderful little baby you are so desperate to meet, but maybe this is not why you like to go to a yoga class.
I personally attended yoga classes to focus on myself with a clear mind and constant breath. When you are pregnant, it can feel as if your body is public property open to complete strangers' questions and even belly touches, which can be a beautiful thing.
But whenever I was in class, I loved that feeling of anonymity, focus, and freedom that only a yoga practice can bring.
It's About What YOU Want
At the end of the long day, unlike your jeans, there is no one-size-fits-all, Lyrca-banded solution for your yoga practice during pregnancy. Be confident in your body and listen to it. If you fancy staying put in your regular class, then give it a go. And if you want to experience prenatal classes then why not?
You will soon find out which is best for you. If I could say one thing, it would be that it's okay to change your mind and opinions. As your body changes, your mind may follow. Well, mine did anyway. It followed me all the way to prenatal yoga at 36 weeks!