Bringing a new life into this world is exciting, scary, daunting and all consuming. At this incredibly special time, there will be feelings of excitement, curiosity and a desire for mum to be to do her absolute best for herself and for her impending new arrival.
Pregnancy is an incredible time of change, aside from having to change your car and decorate the nursery; for Women it is both a physical and emotional upheaval and it’s easy to lose sight of taking care of you in the whirlwind of all that you now have to consider.
These demands as well as the added pressure for mother and baby to stay healthy, strong and stress free, is a contributing factor why many women turn to yoga to prepare for the birth.
There is a good chance that for many women attending a yoga for pregnancy class, it may be their first pregnancy, but also their first class. Solidarity is at hand, for there are two things you can rely on; firstly, that the class will be full of women and secondly that just like you, they will be pregnant. Some will have other children; some may have previous experience of yoga, and some may not. Pregnancy Yoga creates the perfect opportunity to forge new relationships based on sharing experiences, worries and along the way celebrating together.
Attending a yoga class is a great chance and environment for them to explore their growing bodies and share their experiences with others. Practising yoga allows them the time to discover their own limitations, strengths, independence and dependencies, they may awaken connections in their mind and bodies.
Starting pregnancy yoga will usually mean joining a class after the 12th week of pregnancy and always seek advice from the midwife or GP before commencing any form of physical exercise.
What will you find in a Pregnancy yoga class?
A pregnancy or pre-natal yoga class has been designed for pregnant women and the poses selected for the class will look to aid the body during pregnancy.
A typical class will consist of meditation and time to build a connection with baby, a gentle warm up moving through individual postures or a yoga sequence, a look at breathing techniques and all ending with relaxation that connect you with your baby in a deep and very personal way.
The Yoga sequences will bring genuine and tangible benefits to the pregnant body; developing strength, building energy and increasing flexibility and bring together the physical and mental benefits that can help prepare for childbirth.
Yoga makes you very aware of what is happening within your body, encouraging you to enjoy the changes that are happening and embrace your feelings about them in a totally supportive environment.
Yoga for Pregnancy is Different and Specific
A class will generally have women at different stages of their pregnancy or trimesters:
- Trimester 1
week 6 to week 26
- Trimester 2
week 13 to week 27
- Trimester 3
week 28 to week 40
Varying in length between 45 to 90 minutes, it will have been designed to be suitable for all attendees.
A woman doing a wide angle forward bend at 24 weeks will look very different to a woman doing the same pose at 36 weeks. Consequently, a pregnancy yoga teacher will have studied specifically to assist and change poses to suit the various pregnancy stages, ensuring that you remain totally safe throughout
Movements should flow and be held for shorter periods, the asanas will be simple and can easily be incorporated into daily life, ensuring that your and its benefits Yoga extend beyond the class. Consideration will be given to the ligaments and joints to prevent over exertion, particularly in the pelvis and lower back areas where ligaments will already be softening due to the Relaxin hormone now present in the body.
Care should be taken with the spine, which is especially vulnerable, alongside the cervical and lumber vertebrae which receive little support meaning that the neck and lower back are more likely to suffer from injury or pain. Poses that are performed on the mat are safer than those that require balance or induce pressure on the vertebral column.
Consideration must also be given to limiting or removing poses that work on the gluteus medis, abductors and hip flexor. Limit also twisting, lifting and standing on one leg.
Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga
Pregnancy yoga builds awareness not just of the physical characteristics, but the relationship between the mind and the breath. This assists women with understanding the relationship of their ‘Centre’ with the rest of their body and with baby too. A pregnancy yoga class will provide a mum to be with a special time for them to start to connect with her unborn child, whether holding posture or meditating.
As the body changes, the chances increase women suffering from related conditions.
Pelvic girdle pain; likely caused by the joint not working, manifests as hips clicking, and pushes the pelvis out of alignment. This can work up to the ribs, shoulders and the legs may work differently. The sacroiliac joint could cause pain, the lumbar spine could appear compressed. Other problems often include:
- Varicose veins
- Anaemia or hypertension
- Aching legs
- Placenta Praevia – Low lying placenta
A pregnancy yoga teacher will have been trained to be aware of the physical and physiological responses experienced by pregnant women will help them navigate a practice designed to alleviate their specific symptoms. They will know how to select the right asana to create the right effect, using standing postures to create energy, seated to assist with calming and balance to bring in the sensation of lightness and breathing techniques which will help create calmness and control, all useful for labour.
Breath practices, guided relaxation and meditation play a key part in pregnancy yoga., particularly as many women this may be the only time they get to relax. Women usually lie on their left side whilst relaxing, as gravity allows for baby to move into a comfortable position. From 2nd trimester the use of pillows under the head, the bump and/or legs, as well as blankets, will make mum to be as comfortable as possible.
Sometimes affirmations will be introduced, these positive words, phrases or sentences repeated out loud or silently make an impression on the subconscious mind and trigger positive thoughts into actions. Describing a situation we desire to happen or a way we wish to feel and then repeated with conviction and feeling, have a positive effect on outlook and well being. Affirmations and visualisations also assist with the creation of a comfortable pregnancy and help to prepare for birth.
Pregnancy Yoga classes become a place where ‘real knowledge’ is shared and passed on. Much more than just the yoga practice of the asanas and breathing, it becomes a place where women share their wisdom, fears and amazement at this special time; which is truly lovely.