Prenatal Yoga is a beautiful practice to prepare for childbirth and motherhood. Like all yoga practices, practicing yoga while pregnant is a deeply spiritual and transformational experience.
As you connect with your child growing inside of you, you also work to connect with your breath, your feelings and emotions surrounding childbirth and motherhood, and your emotional relationship with physical sensation.
Prenatal Yoga can be so helpful to prepare your body and your mind for a huge chapter in your life: motherhood.
Even though practicing yoga while pregnant is usually really beneficial, it should always be cleared by a doctor first. And, once you have the go-ahead from your healthcare provider, there are a few important things to keep in mind when you practice Prenatal Yoga.
When Practicing Yoga While Pregnant, Keep These 5 Key Pillars of Prenatal Yoga in Mind:
As you jump into your Prenatal Yoga practice, keep the following important reminders at the forefront of your mind.
1. Trust Your Instincts
The prominent yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater wisely said, “If something feels bad, stop; if something feels really, really good, keep doing it. A pregnant woman’s intuition is why the human race is here, so I want them to learn to trust it.”
How chillingly accurate is that?!
Your body always knows best – better than any teacher or any rules of alignment. Follow your intuition. Listen to what your body tells you. Feel connected to your innate inner wisdom. Especially when practicing yoga while pregnant, your inner voice will not lead you astray.
2. Listen to Your Body
Similarly, your body knows exactly what it needs and what it doesn’t. If this is your first time practicing yoga, go slow and take it easy. If you’re already an advanced practitioner, keep flowing at your own pace.
Listen to your body in every way. Does that stretch feel good? Enjoy it! Does something feel off in Warrior II? Skip it! There is no better time to really tune in with every sensation you feel and follow your gut instincts than when practicing Prenatal Yoga.
If it feels good, do it. If it doesn’t, then listen and adjust accordingly.
Not so sure about how to modify? Practice While Pregnant: 5 Prenatal Yoga Modifications of Common Poses (Photo Tutorial)
3. Respect Your Limits
During pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released into the bloodstream to prepare the body to stretch for carrying the baby and for childbirth. Just as the name implies, relaxin relaxes soft tissues in the body and can loosen ligaments and create extreme flexibility.
While this is all needed to carry a baby to term and to give birth, it is not needed in your Prenatal Yoga practice. So you should always respect your natural limits when it comes to stretches.
In fact, when you’re practicing yoga while pregnant, it’s even wise to take a step back from your normal limits. There’s no reason to overstretch already loose connective tissues as this could potentially cause instability or even joint dislocations.
This is a time when less is really more. Instead of pushing your limits in your asana practice, focus on other aspects of yoga that might be more relevant to this time in your life.
4. Follow Your Breath
This is a time to tune in with the subtler aspects of your practice, like pranayama, meditation, and introspection. While you can, of course, keep up your regular asana practice if it feels good and your doctor approves, it’s also a good idea to tap into more subtle layers.
Practicing yoga while pregnant is so highly recommended because practicing yoga at any time encourages you to draw your awareness to your breath. And during pregnancy, focusing on your breath can be monumental.
Birthing practices like the Lamaze technique help you to pattern your breath to decrease pain and enhance relaxation. The breath is such a powerful tool that you have at your disposal, anytime and anywhere – even in the delivery room.
By following your breath in your Prenatal Yoga practice (through the challenging parts of your practice and through the relaxing parts), you can teach your body to do the same when bigger stresses arise – like childbirth or the woes of motherhood.
So always tune in with your breath and follow its ebb and flow in your prenatal practice and watch how it translates into all the other parts of your life that need that same simple stability as well.
5. Stay Connected
Being pregnant is almost a yoga practice in and of itself. There are so many things that you need to practice non-attachment with (your favorite pair of skinny jeans and coffee!) and so many times that you need to put the needs of your little one ahead of your own.
But pregnancy is also a time to connect with the vast lineage of mothers that came before you and the interconnectedness of all life.
Women have the superpower to grow another human being inside of their wombs (just think about that for a sec!) so pregnancy is a crucial time to feel the connection of all life and practicing yoga while pregnant can help you to do just that. As you tune in, you also connect out.
But beyond that, practicing Prenatal Yoga also helps to you to connect deeply with the little soul that’s growing inside of you. Turn your attention inward, connect, and bond through your practice.
Not feeling up for Prenatal Yoga because of morning sickness? Try these 5 Prenatal Yoga Poses to Relieve Morning Sickness
Prenatal Yoga and Practicing Yoga While Pregnant: The Takeaway
Yoga is a powerful tool at any stage in your life, but it can be especially helpful to practice yoga while pregnant to prepare you for what’s ahead.
Prenatal Yoga is usually offered at most yoga studios via qualified teachers who know how to appropriately sequence for your changing body.
With the approval of your doctor, give it a try and follow the five key pillars of the practice mentioned above. See if you enjoy it – you might be surprised to find that it can help you to blossom in your pregnancy and beyond.
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.