Should you practise Yoga during your Pregnancy?
Yoga has a fantastic reputation all over the world, not only does Yoga have physical and mental health benefits but it’s also one of the more accessible and sometimes gentler forms of exercise.
It’s no wonder then that expectant mothers turn to Yoga as a form of exercise during pregnancy, or why Yoga is a great way of getting that pre-natal body back. In fact, a study of over 400 women conducted in 2012 found that women who practised Yoga were less likely to have a premature birth or deliver a low-birthweight baby.
What kind of Yoga should you be looking at taking part in whilst pregnant? How often is it safe to practise? Is there anything that you should avoid whilst taking part in Yoga while pregnant?Is it safe to practise Yoga whilst pregnant?
Firstly, it’s important to clarify that Yoga is safe for you to practise during pregnancy. There are no associated risks of practicing Yoga whilst pregnant - in fact it can be incredibly healthy for you and your baby. But it is important that you practise safely and with an instructor that knows their stuff. This is the key to making sure your practise is safe.
What kind of Yoga should I do during pregnancy?
Most Yoga studios will offer Yoga classes that are dedicated to pregnant women. These classes will always be slow and predominantly mat based. Pregnancy Yoga tends to focus on areas of discomfort or swelling that women experience during pregnancy and areas that are handy to have strengthened throughout pregnancy. For example, your instructor may include poses to ease swelling in the ankles or breathing techniques to help with shortness of breath and labour. If you’re local to a Yoga studio then going to dedicated pregnancy Yoga classes is always your best option.
If you don’t have the luxury of living near a Yoga studio then it’s always best to look for onlineYoga classes for pregnant women. We also have an exciting course opening soon, The Pregnancy& Motherhood Manual, which will include both pre and postnatal Yoga! Luckily Yoga has lots of different styles and a few of them are suitable for pregnant women, such as; Restorative, Yin, andYoga Nidra. Plus, there’s always the option of taking meditation classes which are exceptionally relaxing and are proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
Is there anything I should be mindful of when doing Yoga whilst pregnant?
There are a few things you should consider if you’re thinking about doing Yoga whilst pregnant.You should always check in with your Yoga teacher to make sure they have adequate Yoga training which includes education on Yoga for pregnant women. You also need to make sure that your Yoga instructor has insurance - all Yoga instructors should have insurance but you may want to verify this just in case you encounter any injury or strain in class (even if it’s not your fault!).
It’s safe to practise Yoga as much or as little as you want. It’s always advisable to take at least one day of rest no matter what form of exercise you’re doing (pregnant or not) to give the body a chance to recuperate. Practising Yoga as little as once per week is enough to see the benefits. In order to really increase flexibility and strength in the body whilst pregnant then 2-3 times per week is advisable.
Is there anything I should avoid whilst practising Yoga when pregnant?
Yes! Your instructor should make you aware of certain poses that should not be performed whilst pregnant. But, just in case they don’t, it’s best for you to know them prior to starting your first class. If your Yoga teacher does not stop you from doing these poses, then you should consider switching to a different instructor as instructors with proper education should not let you practise these poses.
Whilst pregnant you should avoid practising twists. Twists often come as a modification to a pose, for example, Chair Twist. Whilst Chair pose is safe to practise whilst pregnant (you may struggle in your 3rd Trimester based on how big your bump is!), Chair pose with a Twist is not safe during pregnancy and should be avoided. Inversions such as Headstand, Plow, Shoulder stand should not be practised. Gentler inversions such as Rag Doll, Downward Facing Dog and Waterfall pose can be practised with some caution, but if at any point these poses make you feel light-headed, come out of the pose and find Savasana or Child’s Pose and rest until you feel well enough to participate again.
Poses that involve you lying on your stomach should also be avoided. For example, Bow pose(you can take Camel pose instead to achieve the same benefits!). These poses will not be included in dedicated Pregnancy Yoga classes, but are typically included in regular classes. If you aren’t taking part in dedicated Pregnancy Yoga classes, then it’s best to lie down in Savasana whilst the class participates in poses that involve lying on your belly.
Prenatal Yoga is amazing for strengthening the body and increasing flexibility in the muscles in a healthy and safe way whilst pregnant. Moreover it’s a great way to take some time for yourself to bond with your baby in a relaxing environment. Have you practised Yoga whilst pregnant? Let us know in the comments!