Prenatal classes are specifically designed to accommodate the changing body and prepare you for childbirth. Establish confidence in yourself and your body’s abilities, while connecting not just with your baby but other mummy’s to be.
Reasons to practice prenatal yoga
All reasons are good reasons. Whether you are a regular yoga practitioner, experience muscular aches and pains, suffer from anxiety or whether you purely want to take time to spend with your growing baby and just give it a try, whatever your reason is, prenatal yoga practice is a great support for the changing body. It assists in establishing breath awareness and techniques, strengthens the body, increases relaxation, supports the connection with the baby and brings confidence in your ability to give birth.
Preparation for childbirth
Practicing regular Yoga in preparation for childbirth will take you through different techniques which will make you aware of what your body and mind is capable of. You will learn to trust your body to open and be present and calm. You will trust your unique body to do what it is designed to do, give birth.
Common pregnancy related aches and pains
Lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, nausea, insomnia, shortness of breath…yes, you are not alone in this and specific asana, pranayama and meditation can ease pregnancy related problems and can give you the much needed calm and relaxed feeling.
Connecting with your baby
The practice in a class setting or at home will give you quality time with your baby and create a sacred space to connect in a way only you can. It is time in a busy life to connect and realise changes and different responses of your body and baby.
Connecting with other mothers to be
A prenatal class is a sacred space to not just connect with your baby but also other women who experience the changes of pregnancy. It can be a group of support, friends, advice, laughter, love or whatever you need at that time. Being part of this supportive community can help reduce anxiety and you may find friendships for life.
The Prenatal Yoga class consists mainly of asana (physical postures and movements), pranayama (breath work) and Meditation. During the stages of pregnancy the physical body is ever changing. The baby is growing and therefore the centre of gravity changes, the spine moves into a different posture, joints are softened, organs move and the circulatory system changes pace … just to name a few. Naturally asanas have to be adjusted to accommodate the physical changes BUT taking it further, the body will be prepared for childbirth. You build strength and stamina, good posture is strengthened and especially the pelvis is stretched to set a good basis for labour. You will be confident in your body and mind to give birth.
A typical prenatal yoga practice will always include Pranayama. The awareness of the breath and its energy is especially important for childbirth and as a new parent. The breath will be a great tool to guide through you contractions and allow a feeling of relaxation and calm. Using easy breath awareness will further help through stressful situations in motherhood.
The class usually ends with a short guided meditation. This will help to calm and relax, and connect to the baby and to yourself.
Most important while practicing prenatal yoga: work with your body and don’t force anything! In case you feel tired in a posture, it is your bodys way of telling you to take it easy; if you feel nauseous in an asana, it is your bodys way of telling you that this posture is not right for you today and to avoid it.
When to join a Prenatal yoga practice
In general, the first trimester is a phase of rest and inward orientation. It is time for major development of the foetus and of profound physical and emotional changes for you. Like with every exercise during this period, if you have been practicing yoga on a regular basis, to continue your practice is usually no problem, bearing in mind that a lot of times we are not aware of being pregnant until the fourth week. As always, it is important to listen to the body and to practice what is right that day. In case of a history of obstetrical challenges, to consult you general doctor for advice might be recommended. Ideally the best and safest practice for the first trimester is meditation and pranayama.
Prenatal Yoga practice is encouraged from the second trimester up to delivery. The second trimester is the phase of more energy and a perfect time to start moving again. It is a great time to start opening the pelvic area and increase mobility while strengthening pelvic floor, gluts and legs. The specific strengthening and lengthening asanas will provide confidence in the body for childbirth and build stamina. This will carry into daily life and give a sense of stability and confidence and will help to maintain good posture. Especially in the third trimester, asana will help you feel more comfortable in your body and stay positive and confident on the path to childbirth. The relaxation of the nervous system is especially beneficial at this point.
To sum it up…
Each month brings different individual gifts and challenges. Yoga practice can bring you in tune with changes happening in the body, mind and breath. Prenatal practice helps along the way to feel better prepared for birth, to establish confidence and trust and feel at home in a changing body and with different emotions and other common challenges. Mum and baby will both benefit from practice. See it as a space to connect and to do something special to honour the pregnancy. To share the practice with other pregnant women gives a feeling of support, fun and can enrich the experience of pregnancy.