Prenatal Yoga: A Complete Guide​

Akhanda Yoga

Akhanda Yoga

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What is prenatal yoga?

Prenatal Yoga is yoga practice designed specifically to support pregnant parents throughout all stages of pregnancy and birth. The tailored postures, breathing practices, meditations and restorative poses allow for support and empowerment for the parents to be. 

 

 

They can stay relax knowing the class is safe and created just for them and doesn’t contain any yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.

Typically a class will include postures, breathing practices, mindful movement, meditation and rest. Aiding the pregnant person’s body, mind and soul. 

The session can be useful to manage and ease pregnancy difficulties as well as prepare for the arrival of baby, both physically and mentally.

 

What does prenatal yoga help with?

Prenatal Yoga can help with many physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy. The body is changing rapidly, new life is growing within, hormonal and nervous system changes can be overwhelming at this time.

Having a space to notice these things, learn about them and help manage them can often make a huge difference to the state of the expectant parent.

Common complaints such as achy lower back, nausea shortness of breath, carpal tunnel, heartburn/reflux, restlessness, constipation, trouble sleeping, pelvic pain, anxiety, stress, depression, fear and overwhelm can all be managed, alleviated and eradicated with pregnancy yoga. 

Starting a pregnancy yoga practice early on in the pregnancy can allow the new parent to grow, adapt and learn as baby grows too.

Many new parents report that the breathing techniques and mindset gained from prenatal yoga helped them in labour and delivery to cope with intense sensations.

Is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga?

Prenatal yoga is very different from regular yoga. Often things we do in a regular yoga class are unsafe for a pregnant person. And even if they are safe, more often than not a regular practice will contain lots of elements that do not aid a pregnancy at all.

One difference is that pregnant people will require a very different approach in the postures, for many reasons including accommodating the size of the bump, not being able to lie on the stomach or back during certain trimesters and different muscle groups need to be strengthened or released compared to an non pregnant person.

Hypermobility needs to be considered also as a hormone called relaxin is released during pregnancy which can cause excessive movement in the joints leading to pain and injury.



Other ailments such as achy lower back, nausea, shortness of breath, carpal tunnel, heartburn/reflux, restlessness, constipation, trouble sleeping, pelvic pain, anxiety, stress, depression, fear and overwhelm need to be considered also.

Pregnancy Yoga can help with all of these but a specific class is needed to ensure the pregnant person is kept safe and that all these ailments are considered.

What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?

Benefits include:

  • Tension release from achy muscles and joints
  • Relief from shortness of breath
    Strengthen muscles to carry baby’s growing weight as well as birthing baby
  • Help ease prenatal anxiety and fear
  • Empower and educate parents to be on the wonder and power of their body and mind
  • Connect them with other new parents
  • Help with nausea, carpal tunnel, heartburn/reflux, restlessness, constipation, trouble sleeping, pelvic pain.
  • A space to deeply rest and connect to themselves

“If you can Breathe, You Can do Yoga”

-Yogrishi Vishvketu

Is pregnancy yoga safe?

Prenatal yoga is designed specifically to support pregnant parents throughout all stages of pregnancy and birth. The tailored postures, breathing practices, meditations and restorative poses allow for support and empowerment for the parents to be. They can stay relax knowing the class is safe and created just for them and doesn’t contain any yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.

It takes into account common complaints such as achy lower back, nausea, shortness of breath, carpal tunnel, heartburn/reflux, restlessness, constipation, trouble sleeping, pelvic pain, anxiety, stress, depression, fear and overwhelm.

It ensures contraindications such as hypermobility, inversions, deep twists, retention of breath and compression of the abdomen are all considered and avoided.

When should you start prenatal yoga?

Check in with your care provider. Some practitioners welcome people in the 1st trimester. But some only allow from 14 weeks on.

If the facilitator is comfortable and aware, then starting as soon as possible gives the new parent time to adapt, learn and grow as baby is doing so.

Even better, having a dedicated and committed yoga practice before conception is ideal. Yoga can often help with fertility and supporting overall health and wellbeing with the practitioner.

What do you do in prenatal yoga?

Every class is different and depends on the facilitator. But in general classes are designed specifically to support pregnant parents throughout all stages of pregnancy and birth. They contain tailored postures, breathing practices, meditations and restorative poses to support and empower the parents to be. They can relax knowing the class is safe and created just for them and doesn’t contain any yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.

How to do prenatal yoga?

There are lots of free online prenatal yoga classes on YouTube and other video platforms. And these are great if you’re on a budget and can’t make it to an in person class. However, more often than not these classes aren’t designed specifically for you and so choose wisely which classes you do.

If you have a class in your local area and you connect with and trust the facilitator I would recommend joining that, but if none of that is possible then online it is.

Prenatal yoga is best done with a trained and qualified facilitator guiding you. The complexities and wonders of pregnancy mean it’s best left to a professional to guide you. And even better you won’t have to worry about what you’re doing! Just enjoy the class and relax.

“If you can Breathe, You Can do Yoga”

-Yogrishi Vishvketu

Are there special safety guidelines for prenatal yoga?

Pregnancy yoga is a complex practice that should be done with the utmost of care and awareness. It is a dynamic and nuanced time in a new parent’s life and so special safety guidelines are needed to ensure the comfort, enjoyment and safety of all those in the class.

Often different contraindications can be present at different stages of pregnancy and so this must also be considered. Common contraindications such as hypermobility/relaxin, inversions, deep twists, retention of breath and compression of the abdomen all need to be considered and avoided. A trained professional will do this with ease and create a safe, comfortable and empowering class for all.

What are the most common positions/styles for prenatal yoga?

Some common positions and styles are:

  • Squats
  • Open Twists
  • Lateral Stretch
  • Breathing practices
  • Lengthening of lower back
  • Warriors
  • Hip Openers

How do I choose a prenatal yoga class?

Pick a facilitator you connect with and trust.

Ensure they are aware of any specific conditions or precautions you have and that they are qualified and trained in how to deal with them.

It’s not unusual to be quite tired during pregnancy and so choosing a class at a time that suits your energy will be beneficial. Too late in the evening and you might already be in bed.

It’s ok to ask questions of the facilitator and make sure you know the items you need to bring and what is provided in the class. Often having your own pregnancy pillow can help when resting at the end.

It’s a good idea to choose a class in your local area. Chances are, you’ll meet other new and expectant parents and it’s always nice to have friends who are going through a similar journey, can be of support to each other and often have invaluable advice.

Tips for your first prenatal yoga class

Pick a facilitator you connect with and trust. Ensure they are aware of any specific conditions or precautions you have and that they are qualified and trained in how to deal with them.

It’s not unusual to be quite tired during pregnancy and so choosing a class at a time that suits your energy will be beneficial. Too late in the evening and you might already be in bed!
It’s ok to ask questions of the facilitator and make sure you know the items you need to bring and what is provided in the class. Often having your own pregnancy pillow can help when resting at the end.

It’s a good idea to choose a class in your local area. Chances are you’ll meet other new and expectant parents and it’s always nice to have friends who are going through a similar journey, can be of support to each other and often have invaluable advice.

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