Congratulations to all mummies-to-be out there :)
Being a prenatal yoga teacher, I have many students asking me questions concerning yoga during pregnancy. Therefore I think it would be good to compile a list of common questions for you, giving you a clearer picture of what you need to be mindful of during pregnancy.
1. When is a good time to start a prenatal yoga class?
It is most recommended to start after your first trimester, that is usually after 14 weeks. During the first trimester, your body is adjusting to the new changes within and you tend to feel more tired, therefore it is better to stay relaxed until your body energy returns to normal. You may start a prenatal yoga class anytime during the second and third trimester.
2. How different is a prenatal yoga class compared to a regular yoga class?
Firstly in a prenatal class, the whole class is full of pregnant ladies, just like you. The teacher is equipped with prenatal yoga knowledge and caters the class to postures that are helpful and safe for pregnant ladies. During a prenatal class, postures are adapted to strengthen and stretch related muscles to prepare you for labour and motherhood. A portion of the class is dedicated to relaxation and meditation to help pregnant ladies relax and cope better with any emotional stress.
It is highly recommended for all pregnant ladies to attend prenatal yoga class rather than a regular yoga class in order to receive the benefits of the specialised practice.
3. Can I still attend a regular yoga class instead of prenatal?
If you are a regular yoga practitioner, you may choose to attend a regular yoga class. However, it is important to highlight to the teacher your stage of pregnancy so that he/she may advise on certain posture you may need to avoid. It is also important for you to have some information on what you need to be mindful of while attending a regular yoga class (refer to qns 6).
4. What do I need to keep in mind while attending a regular yoga (ie: not prenatal) class?
It is most important to acknowledge the differences in your body and how your body feels during the practice. Always try to maintain a steady pace of breath and avoid any postures that brings up your heart rate too much. Ideally, you should still be able to carry a conversation in any of the posture you are doing. Try to avoid regular yoga classes in the first trimester because the energy in your body may be low and you are still adjusting to the pregnancy.
5. Is it ok to practice hot yoga during pregnancy?
It is not recommended to practice hot yoga during pregnancy. In a hot room, the heat adds pressure to your body and heart, hence your heart rate escalates even when you do simple postures. There may be a risk of overheating the body which may increase risk of neural tube defects and possibly other malformations.
At Yoga Inc, we do not allow pregnant ladies to attend any of our hot yoga classes (hot basics, hot hatha, warm stretch). We believe that it is at your best interest that you keep a safe practice throughout your pregnancy and we thank you for your understanding.
6. Are there any poses I need to avoid during pregnancy?
There are 5 basic rules relating to this question.
6.1. Avoid closed hip twists.
During pregnancy, the most important is to provide space for the baby to grow inside your belly. Closed hip twist minimises the space for your baby, and may also affect blood circulation to the baby, so try to keep your twist on the open hip side.
Eg of poses:
6.2. No Prone Poses (Lying on the Belly).
After the first trimester, it is not comfortable to lie on the belly, and definitely not safe for the growing baby either.
Eg of poses:
6.3. No Major Backbend.
Deep Backbends may risk over stretching the abdominals, in worse cases it might even cause a tear in the abdominal muscles. With the growing baby, your belly is already getting a good stretch, so deep backbends should be avoided.
Eg of poses:
6.4. No Inversions.
Firstly, when the baby is already in position (head down), you do not want to risk inverting the little one. On top of that, your centre of gravity changes with the growing baby, going upside down might risk injuries if you lose the control.
6.5. No vigorous core muscles engagement.
Gentle core postures are encouraged during pregnancy to maintain your fitness and core strength, this helps to support your pelvic muscle and give better control during delivery. However, it is important to modify your postures to help support your back muscles so that lower back does not feel too strenuous. Also it is important to check for abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti)prior to exercising the core area. If there are signs of DR, you need to avoid engaging the core muscles as much as possible, to reduce the severity of the problem.
Eg of poses:
Do not be too concern if you are not familiar with the names of the pose, always let the teacher know your stage of pregnancy, and make sure you do not feel any compression of your belly during your practice.
7. I have never done yoga before, can I still come for a prenatal yoga class?
Yes, there is no need for any prior yoga experience to do a prenatal class. It is never to late to start.
8. What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?
The main benefits are:
On top of these benefits, prenatal yoga helps build a community of pregnant mummies and progress in your pregnancy journey together, to bond and share information as a community.
9. How far into the pregnancy can I keep practising yoga?
You can continue practising prenatal yoga up to the day you pop! Although it is recommended that towards the end of your pregnancy, take the practise more gently and focus on more relaxation and restorative postures.
10. When can I resume my regular yoga practice post natal?
If you went through a natural delivery, give your body at least 6 weeks before you dive back onto the mat. However, do not push yourself too much at the beginning, be mindful that your body has gone through a lot of changes and you need to give it time to heal, recoup and rebuild. To add on, the added stress of being a new parent might take a toll on your energy level, hence it is important to be patient with your practice and pace yourself.
If you went through a Caesarean delivery (C-section), your body needs more time to recover. It is after all a major operation. It is advisable to avoid strenuous activities for the first couple of months. Simple postures such as pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen your core muscles and protect your lower back. Always consult the doctor to ensure that you are well recovered to be back on the yoga mat.
I hope this addresses some of your concerns regarding yoga during pregnancy.
Always remember to stay happy and positive during your pregnancy.
Happy Mummy, Happy Baby:)
P.S. Check out the prenatal classes offered at Yoga Inc!
About the author
Jacqueline is a teacher at Yoga Inc and she is a mother of 2 kids, age 8 and 6.
Cannot tell right?!
As Krishnamacharya said, "If you can breathe, you can do Yoga"
It is also my belief that everyone, regardless of their ages, can practice Yoga.
Due to the ever competitive lifestyle in modern society, it has been increasingly popular for kids to start practicing Yoga at a younger age and some schools have also introduced Yoga to help students manage stress and energy levels.
Here are some of the many reasons why kids should do Yoga :
Your mat is a safe space where you can practice at your own pace and at your own means. In contrast to many other curriculums at schools, there are no grading or tests for your Yoga practice. There are no audience to watch you perform nor spectators to watch you compete. Therefore, there is no #1 position for kids to fight for, and every one is a winner! It is an activity for kids to learn more about their themselves, to move, relax and not stress about having to win at everything.
2. Increases ability to focus and relax.
Balancing Yoga asanas (poses) can be very fun and exciting for kids. It trains them to ignore distractions and direct all their attention towards the pose they are working on. This can help to improve concentration levels in school too!
Many kids have told me they are constantly tired and stressed out. When we are nervous or frustrated, our breaths tend to be shallow and quick. Introducing breath awareness can help them to calm themselves in tensed situations and learn how to manage their emotions better.
3. Promotes a better posture, body structure, motor skills
Bones, tissues, muscles of kids are still soft and growing. The long hours of sitting through classes and carrying heavy school bags place immense pressure on a kid’s body. Yoga asanas help to build strength and flexibility which are important for a healthy physical development. Asymmetrical poses also help with the body’s left, right coordination.
4. Educational and inspires creativity
A wide range of knowledge (e.g. maths, science, language skills etc.) can be passed on to kids throughout the session so they are learning and having fun at the same time. Kids Yoga classes are designed to be enjoyable and interesting to encourage active participation. Unlike a typical adult class, creative elements such as animal noises, music, props, crafts are incorporated into the sessions to stimulate the kid’s imagination.
5. Body awareness, mindfulness and self acceptance
During the class, kids start to learn more about their own anatomy, feel certain muscle engagement or stretch in various poses and how to control their breathing to find focus. Very often, I would also ask the kids how they are feeling before and after class. I would thank them for sharing without passing judgement. This encourages them to share their feelings, opinions and thoughts freely. This eventually led to a heightened sense of self-awareness. Having a mindful practice often continues off mats, which encourages kids to love themselves, take care of their own bodies and health.
There are countless of benefits for kids to do Yoga. And as their practice deepen, they grow to be stronger, both physically and mentally; they tend to be more loving, confident and have more compassion for others.
On the other hand, teaching kids yoga has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Their willingness to learn, their curiosity of the asanas and their creativity never fails to inspire me.
About the author
Joy is a teacher at Yoga Inc and she is a Jiak Buay Dua Kid herself.
P.S. Check out our School Holiday Kids Yoga @ Yoga Inc Punggol!
As a teacher, I often get people asking me about teaching yoga.
There are several concerns or questions that pop up so here's my humble and brutally honest experience after teaching for a while. It certainly won't be the same for everyone.
If you are considering teaching or taking training, this is for you.
1) I want to get away from 9-to-5 and corporate bullsh*t
Sometimes, I think people think that teaching yoga means you won't suffer from office politics. You can "get away from the corporate grind'. Let's put it this way: humans are humans wherever you go. Depending on where you teach, it can get very competitive and political. I am fortunate to be surrounded by lots of nice people. I am so grateful for the angels in my life.
Your job may not be 9 to 5 and you may seem to have pockets of time in between where you are not teaching. However, the fact is: you may actually spend more hours working. Your day may start at 6am and end at 10pm. Your free time in between may be spent on planning, studying, practising, commuting or simply catching up with rest. You may be working while your friends or spouse are not so your social life may change. You have to worry about numbers too. KPIs don't just exist in corporate jobs. Depending on where you teach, you may not be able to take leave as and when you like.
2) Teaching yoga seems easy. It looks so zen.
It looks more glamorous than it really is. Instagram makes teaching look like a cycle of cool poses, green smoothies and funky outfits but the truth is: it is demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. You have to think about what to teach, keep yourself updated, lead people through a safe practice and stay authentic through it all.
People often don't see the amount of information that goes through a teacher's brain while trying to look zen and hold the space and energy of the class up. You will experience moments of exhilaration as well as moments of doubt. On top of that, people expect you to be zen and always know what to do but you are a human too. You can be so tired at the end of some days that when you get home, you just want to vegetate at home with a good show and not talk to anybody.
3) Can you make money teaching yoga?
A teacher's income is often determined by the amount of hours spent teaching. Even teachers who run trainings and seem to earn a lot with less hours teaching put in a lot of work to make those trainings happen. Those hours could well exceed hours the student sees.
I do not know any teacher who makes reasonable or really good income without putting in the work. Like a friend said recently, 钱难赚！Yes, you can make a living but if your goal is to make lots of money, there are other easier ways. If you are willing to work hard, a reasonably comfortable lifestyle is possible.
4) Must you know how to do all the poses?
I wish I knew how to do all the poses! Truth is, nobody knows how to do ALL the poses. The asana practice has evolved to thousands of poses. It is not humanly possible to expect someone to know all of it. Everyone's body is different too so there will be some poses that will be impossible for some bodies no matter how long you practice but there are also many poses that will come with time.
You do need to have practiced for a while before attending training but the most important thing is you have the heart to learn more and serve others through teaching. There will be a different teacher for a student at different stage of their practice. Your teaching may be different from other teachers and there will be students out there who will appreciate what you offer. Asana is but just a very small part of the overall system of Yoga.
Wow it sounds terrible to teach so why teach?
Because if you love the practice and want to deepen your practice, teacher training is a good way of understanding your practice more. I often hear of people saying they didn't go to training intending to teach but end up feeling so enthusiastic about teaching that they can't wait to start when they finish training.
Because if you dislike working in stuffy rooms with recycled air-con air like me, being on the move and teaching in wide spaces will be a godsend.
Because you do have some control over how you would like to design your day and how you would like to spend your time. There will be trade-offs for every decision but you will be the one who gets to decide.
Because teaching does remind you of the need to stay healthy in all areas of life.
Because if you find joy in seeing others light up and smile at the end of class, watching others grow in their practice before your eyes or helping others with alleviating their pains and aches, the job satisfaction of teaching is priceless. You may not save the world but you have a real opportunity to make a real difference in someone's life. It's the thing that keeps many teachers going.
If you love what your teacher did, tell them.You can't imagine how encouraging it is for a teacher.
About Yoga Teacher Trainings...
Whether you decide to teach eventually is secondary but if you love the practice and are thinking of taking the next step, do it. You will learn so much more about the practice and most importantly, yourself.
In a teacher training, you will learn a lot about poses amongst many other things and you may take your practice further but to me, one of the most important components of a teacher training is learning how to teach.
Yoga Inc is having their 3rd round of 200 hour Teacher Training in July this year.
Something I really like about how they structured the program is that participants are given lots of opportunity to teach early in the program. I do hear of people attending training being fed with lots of information but not actually taught how to teach. Both the trainers, Christine and Jing, are friendly, supportive teachers and Yoga Inc is a casual and friendly environment to undertake this intensive program.
A 200 hour certification is merely the first step.
You leave a 200 hour training having learnt a lot, but also learning how much more you don't know.
The journey of learning will be a long one but if the thought of doing a teacher training has crossed your mind, it probably already means you have the heart to learn and perhaps, the heart to serve.
And that is enough :)
About the author
Catherine is a teacher at Yoga Inc and she did not receive any bribes to write this article.
(She's waiting to be bribed * hint *)
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