I get so many emails each week asking about Yoga during Pregnancy, so thought I'd share 5 Prenatal Yoga Tips & Advice in response to our most common questions...
1. Can I still practice yoga, and if so, how many weeks should I wait?....
Yes, you can continue practicing yoga during pregnancy. Generally people will advise waiting till after 12 weeks. This is due to your body going through the most changes during this time and also this being the most common time and higher likelihood of miscarriage.
(Due to the huge changes going on in your body, you will also probably feel the most tired and nauseous, so may not feel like practicing during this time.)
2. If I want to continue my practice before the 12 week mark, what do you suggest?
Ok, so you want to still practice, that's fine (we probably would too)... so here's what we suggest. If you are going to group classes, please please please make sure you tell each of your teachers you are pregnant (even if it is on the down-low because you are not announcing it just yet). Its so important for us as teachers to have an understanding of what you are going through so as to modify and make appropriate adjustments. (If you are worried about other students finding out, we can also do this in a generic way such as "for those who want an easier option today, do this.....", as opposed to "Jenny since you're pregnant, do this instead.")
You may feel more drawn to practicing Yoga Nidra (Progressive Relaxation Meditation) during this time, or some deep breathing to refresh and re-energise you as opposed to your regular asana practice during the first 12 weeks. (Check out Soundcloud for some Yoga Nidra/Meditation freebies.)
3. What styles of yoga are best suited during pregnancy?
Slower and more nurturing styles of Yoga are going to be better suited during pregnancy. Obviously a great choice is trying to get along to specific Prenatal Classes that are tailored towards common pregnancy aches and pains and supporting you up until the birth. It's also a great way to meet other mums, who you will find a great support once bub arrives, since you will all be going through the same thing around the same time.
If you can't make these classes, find a class which moves at a slower pace and a teacher that offers more modifications. Gentle, Restorative or Yin classes are great- however due to the "relaxin hormone" building in your body during pregnancy, which softens the ligaments in preparation for birth, you also want to be conscious of not over-stretching during this time... so only do about 60% of what you feel you could! You are welcome to attend any of the other classes if you feel confident with modifying and listening in to your own body.
4. What types of poses and practices should I avoid?
It's fairly intuitive, when it comes to what poses to avoid. Obviously you want to steer clear of anything which is going to compress or over-work the belly area. This means avoid compressive forward bends and closed-twists. Typically, inversions are also out, this is due to it changing the natural position of the baby as it prepares for the birth (particularly in later pregnancy once bubba's head is engaged), and also runs the risk of the chord tangling around bubba's neck.) You are welcome to do some inversions if you know what you are doing. I practiced a few, which were a relief on bladder and to help turn baby, but I also ended up having an emergency c-section due to chord around bubbas neck, so will definitely think twice on some of these next time- even down dog, which is an inversion!)
You will also want to be careful with strong core-work. Fast breathing is also out, along with long breath retention and strong Bandha work, if you incorporate this into your practice. Hot yoga is also something you'll probably want to avoid, and you will find that lying on your tummy is ruled out pretty early on, and lying on your back towards about the 24-28 week mark as the weight of the baby makes this uncomfortable and presses on the vena cava, which disrupts the blood-flow to both you and your baby).
5. Is there any other advice you'd give during pregnancy?
Honour your body and your own inner wisdom. You will usually intuitively know what's best for both you and your baby and this can be a wonderful time to bond with your baby and develop your confidence in your own abilities and your own amazing body, which is capable of birthing another human being.
If you are unsure, err towards the less is more category. This is not a time to be working-out, trying to tone-up and keep in shape, we need to move away from the "Yang" mentality of always needing to do and be more, and soften into the feminine aspect of our nature by nurturing and supporting ourselves, and building our energy to support our growing baby, for the big birth experience that awaits us and for the even bigger experience of having a young bubba to take care of.
So many mums (myself included) journey into the experience of motherhood already completely depleted and fatigued, and it's no wonder so many new mums struggle with post-natal depression, because really most of us are just utterly depleted. So use this time wisely to build up your energy bank and inner resources to carry you through the amazing and life changing journey ahead.
Wishing you and your baby a wonderful journey together!