Why would you seek out prenatal yoga during your pregnancy? Why do so many find yoga, perhaps even for the first time, during a pregnancy?
The reasons are vast, and unique to each individual.
Some common reasons people seek prenatal yoga during pregnancy include the following:
1. REDUCE STRESS
Everyone talks about staying stress-free in pregnancy, but how do you accomplish this? Yoga can be a safe place to find calming, grounding, centering energy for you, and help reduce stress and anxiety. After a yoga practice, many students report back that they sleep better, that very night! This is pregnancy gold, especially toward the end of pregnancy. For one hour of your day, why not try it?
2. BREATH AWARENESS
Yoga and breath – what’s the big deal? Yogis will often talk about breath being more important than the actual poses, and they’re right! Awareness of breath in your body alone can help calm your busy mind, and your nervous system too. Ever tried stopping yourself – in the midst of your busy day – to take 10 deep breaths? If not, try it. Focus entirely on your in breath and out breath, nothing else. While seemingly easy, this does take practice. The cultivation of breath awareness takes you into your body, out of your mind, and will most certainly be a tool used during your labour experience.
3. EMBRACE YOUR CHANGING BODY
Some people naturally LOVE being pregnant, and others find their changing body an uncomfortable experience. Yoga can be a time where you tune into your body (& your baby!) more closely, than during your day to day, and begin to embrace the changes you’re experiencing. Even if you come to your first class judging your body, my hope is that you leave your final class with a bit more love and compassion for your amazing body.
4. OPENNESS & STRENGTH
Practice openly listening to your body's queues -- don't ignore, let it inform you. If you feel pain, back off. If you cannot breathe fully, back off. If there’s truly room to stay longer in a yoga pose (withOUT your ego or expectations falsely guiding you), use your breath to stay longer, as you build strength in your body. Feel deeply into your body and be open to the strength it has to offer (or lack thereof, some days). Be happy with what you find, and let external expectations go. Yes, this is easier said than done.
As you build strength in your yoga practice, endurance and flexibility will join – all key factors in general fitness. Staying healthy throughout your pregnancy (through physical activity, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest) is vital, and having your endurance to carry you through a potentially lengthy labour is equally crucial. Working on your fitness, with healthy boundaries, throughout your pregnancy can help prepare you for childbirth. Often, as the months roll by in pregnancy, there does come a time when more aerobic activities become limiting. Prenatal yoga is that fitness option catered specifically to your pregnancy journey.
6. PELVIC FLOOR AWARENESS
Many women hear the words ‘pelvic floor muscles’ for the first time during pregnancy. What the heck are they? How do you isolate them? Both women and men have pelvic floor muscles, but they get a lot of hype around childbirth and thereafter. Pelvic floor awareness is crucial, in both learning how to strengthen these muscles (ie, kegels), and equally important learning how to fully release and relax these muscles. The latter is most important, as one approaches a vaginal birth. The re-strengthening comes later, and it all starts with the initial awareness, which can be found in prenatal yoga.
Yoga can be a great way to meet other people on a similar pregnancy journey to you. The amount of times I’ve heard students share tid-bits of information; Where’d you take your childbirth education class? Did you do that test? Did you know about the infant car seat sale at….? etc. Whether you’re having your 1st baby or your 4th, there’s always something new to learn. Building your parenthood community can help, as you learn from each other.
Similar to building community with other expecting parents, is the more intimate and personal connection you are building with your baby(ies) within. Yoga can be that opportunity to get quiet and listen to your baby. Fostering your relationship as they grow on the inside will only deepen your bond later.
9. ME TIME
Don’t underestimate creating a routine of making time for YOU while pregnant. When your little one is born, your life will take on a new level of demand, as this tiny human depends fully on you. If you’ve created the habit of ‘ME TIME’ early, through prenatal yoga and other means, you are more likely to carry it forward as you softly land in parenthood.
We hope these ideas help elaborate on the many reasons why practicing prenatal yoga can be an asset to your pregnancy journey. You are invited to join one of Liza’s class offerings in the city, and you can find her schedule here: https://www.doulasofvancouver.ca/prenatalyoga
* Liza’s Prenatal Yoga classes are a gentle Hatha-based yoga class, catered to pregnancy and friendly to all trimesters. Often, students join when they're venturing into their second trimester -- the one when many experience the fade of their morning sickness and the return of their energy! You're welcome to join at any time though, as you desire. If you have concerns, consult your care provider first. As always, listen to your body. Even week to week -- some poses serve you better than others one week to the next. There's no requirement to join in for all -- in a prenatal focused class, or any yoga class really. A full class spent in savasana (the final pose, where you rest) is not time wasted. Days when energy levels are low are worth noticing, and not pushing through, as many people tend to do in their regular life. Life while pregnant is something extra unique, and extra special. Treat yourself with that extra care. You and your baby are worth it!
For more information:
Squatting in pregnancy
Pelvic Floor - Not so many kegels
Pelvic Floor Exercises (as provided by IUGA, International Urogynecological Association)