‘There’s no prerequisite to prenatal yoga, other than being pregnant’
I think I say this at least once a week to a new student that comes in and mentions how inflexible or inexperienced they are in yoga.
A lot of women start to come to prenatal yoga after the aches and pains start to happen and they’re already half way through their pregnancy. It is definitely a fine time to start- but the earlier you get in, the more body awareness you will have and the easier it will be to manage your physical/emotional tension.
You need not to go hard at prenatal yoga. Your body is preparing for birth therefore it is producing the hormone relaxin.
Relaxin helps prepare your pelvis to birth your baby – but the relaxin is not only going to be apparent in your pelvis.
Many women experience sore knees, wrists, unstable hips and hyperextension of the joints. Being mindful of the hormone in your system, your body may feel looser and more open but this isn’t the time to prepare for eka pada sirsasana – it’s the time to hone in on those slight movements and find a yummy stretch that will functionally benefit your pregnancy, labour and recovery.
Let’s talk about the hips – Yes, we want open and supple hips during pregnancy but not to the extent where we stretch and cause discomfort or injury.
A possible effect of over stretching the hips and ligaments surrounding the pelvis can result in discomfort and ongoing pain – one common problem that women might complain of when they’re opening their hips or practicing one legged poses is a painful sensation in the lower region of the groin which can be SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) This can be caused by instability of the ligaments around the pelvis due to the relaxin allowing the body to be more hyper mobile than it was prior to pregnancy.
Avoiding any sensations that don’t feel right is exactly what ANY type of yoga is about and not JUST prenatal yoga.
I understand it isn’t always easy to do the above, especially when you want to jump in head first and twist and lengthen all of the aches and pains away, so I’ve made a short list.
My tips for practicing prenatal yoga… how to do it and how not to do it.
- Each time you practice, whether a beginner or advance yogi – release expectations.
– Your body has alot going on now and priorities are changing to channel energy into the making of your little one. Don’t expect that today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice are going to be the same or even progressive.
- That takes me to the point to mention that prenatal yoga is not practiced to progress your physical practice.
I say only physical because of the risk for injury with the example of SPD mentioned above.
You might just find that your body does develop some wonderful range of movement and if it feels good, continue with it but bear in mind that you are more open and there is a higher chance of doing more damage than good.
If you do have a regular practice and find that poses are just as accessible as they were before continue if it feels okay.
- During pregnancy, it is a wonderful time to enhance the mental/emotional/spiritual disciplines of yoga. This is where it is completely safe to progress in your practice and I encourage you to do so.
These disciplines fall into a broader spectrum of self-awareness, self-care, mental focus and clarity.
- This carries onto meditation. Get into meditation!
It can really be as simple as waking up in the morning and taking 2-3 minutes to focus on your breath… or go even further to practice yoga Nidra, hypno-birthing and other forms of self-hypnosis.
- Monitor your energy – every single day/moment before practice.
You must recognize that you will need to differ your asanas to your energy levels & the same goes for practicing meditation. Sometimes you need to ramp it up and expel energy and other times, take it slow.
- Take rest. As much as you crave. Your body is making another body so acknowledge the power of that!
- Move from stretch to stretch sloooowly and with mindfulness. You can make this slow practice into a moving meditation. It doesn’t mean it has to be boring – It just means you give your body more time to adjust and your mind has better clarity and concentration.
- Work with the breath – meaning take note and acknowledge the rhythm of your breath when you begin your practice, when you’re in the posture and when you come out of it.
Observe the ebb and flow of your inhalation and exhalation. This will enable you to know when you are exerting effort and when you are relaxed.
- Don’t skip savasana! The final resting pose.
Savasana doesn’t always have to take form lying on the floor – you can sit against the wall, recline or find any position that works for you in the moment.
My favourite element of savasana is that there are no rules. Typically in some yoga practices we are careful to rest mindfully – you can do this in prenatal yoga but I do encourage you to let go and if that means a little snooze takes place, then let yourself nap 🙂
Hopefully these simple but yet practical tips help you ease into your prenatal practice. If you have anything to add, please comment below.
Enjoy! B x