I write this for the lovely pregnant yogis I have taught in my day.
If you are pregnant and planning on attending a yoga class, I would recommend a class specifically designated as "prenatal yoga" or a "prenatal" yoga video.
If you are a more experienced yogi and plan to attend a class that is not specifically designated as “prenatal yoga” I will go through some of the recommendations here, but I strongly recommend talking to the teacher before class (even if you've been to the class before you were pregnant) so they are aware that you are pregnant and can give their recommendations as well.
According to the Mayo Clinic just a few of the many BENEFITS that research suggests prenatal yoga can help are:
-reduce stress and anxiety
-decrease lower back pain
-be a great bonding experience to meet other women who will be pregnant and as such have babies of a similar age
-increase flexibility and strength
-(more benefits are listed on their page as well)
I have found these to be true from my training and the women that I have taught as well. In training, we learned that a big part of prenatal yoga is opening up the hips to help with the actual childbirth. We also teach breathing techniques; though they are not specific to giving birth, I have heard from many new moms that these techniques helped immensely during labor.
Other BENEFITS that I have found in my prenatal classes have been:
-learning to take care of yourself in order to help nurture others
-some women have mentioned easier childbirths in comparision when they have attended yoga as part of a second pregnancy or beyond
My recommendation would be to attend a prenatal yoga class or if that is not possible getting a prenatal yoga video.
Here are some things to be aware of during pregnancy:
-Be cautious with twisting poses or avoid them completely. The belly button should always stay forward during pregnancy, so if you are twisting, tist the upper body to the chest only
-Avoid poses on your belly
-In a prenatal yoga class, I would never teach yoga poses on the back. However, if you are attending a non prenatal class and these are poses you are used to, listen to your own body. If your doctor told you to avoid being on your back, do not go onto your back. Otherwise, use your discretion and my recommendation would be to not stay there very long (for instance, in the final relaxation, you can choose to be on your side or seated, etc)
-Avoid hot yoga and Bikram yoga
-Check with your doctor for your target heart rate at this time (it is typically lower at this time)...If you've never done yoga, avoid more vigorous yoga classes that increase your heart rate (if you can’t speak normally or if you feel out of breath, you are most likely pushing too hard)
-Avoid inversions like headstand, shoulder stand, etc
-Only stretch as far as you normally would prior to being pregnant. The body starts to produce relaxin during pregnancy which will increase your flexibility for the moment; don’t use this to stretch farther at this time.
-Listen to and honor your own body. You know your body better than anyone. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right for you today, so please avoid it or come out of the pose (even in a prenatal class or while doing a prenatal video). Even if the pose is considered ok during pregnancy, that does not mean it is right for your body today so listen to your body.
These are general guidelines and is not an exhaustive list. Ask your doctor for their recommendations as well before beginning any exercise program. There are lots of benefits to prenatal yoga so it is certainly a great option for many at this time!