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:
- Revolved Triangle Pose
- Revolved Side Angle Pose
- Seated Spinal Twist
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:
- Cobra Pose
- Locust Pose
- Bow Pose
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:
- Wheel Pose
- King Dancer Pose
- King Pigeon Pose
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:
- Abdominal crunches
- Boat Pose (Navasana)
- Plank Pose (do not hold for too long)
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:
- Improvement in sleep quality
- Reduces daily stress and anxiety relating to pregnancy
- Increases and maintain strong and flexible muscles to endure the stamina needed for childbirth.
- Decreases common symptoms such as lower back pain, headaches, nausea and carpal tunnel syndrome.
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!
Jacqueline is a teacher at Yoga Inc and she is a mother of 2 kids, age 8 and 6.
Cannot tell right?!