Why We Love Pregnancy Yoga (and why it’s so damn GOOD for you + baby)
If you’re pregnant and looking for a holistic approach to staying fit and active in the lead up to your baby’s birth, then you might consider starting yoga. Perhaps you've even heard that a regular yoga practice can reduce stress, improve physical strength and mental clarity while providing an overall feeling of well-being? But what exactly is the difference between a GENERAL yoga class and a PRENATAL yoga class? If you’re already practicing yoga regularly then you might feel that you can just carry on as normal in your existing practice (especially if you’re an ashtanga, vinyasa or bikram yogi), and that is certainly true for many a mama. But even if you’re not necessarily looking for something more gentle and nurturing, there are still MANY benefits of a PREGNANCY specific yoga class that you might not have considered.
GENTLE yoga does not necessarily mean EASY!
Pregnancy is a time for nurturing and loving your body and getting to know your baby, so the classes are offered with this in mind, offering movements that are fluid, intuitive as well as gentle and restorative in nature. While many of the women in our classes are absolute beginners, that doesn't mean experienced yogis won't get a workout too - our pregnancy yoga classes are sequenced so that the movements are slow and mindful, meaning that you’ll F E E L your body and build strength at the same time. The purpose here is so that you build an awareness AND appreciation of your body as it changes, as well as becoming familiar with and learning how to experience strong sensations and mental discomfort in a safe, supported space.
An experienced pregnancy yoga teacher introduces asanas that allow you how to be present with the sensation, breathe and learn how to relax into the intensity of the mental and physical feelings that arise. The idea is that over time, we become more familiar, less fearful and perhaps even, shift our perspective about these strong physical sensations which later on may be somewhat helpful (usually nothing like labour contractions, but with that in mind!) Regardless of how much yoga you know, prenatal yoga works WITH you by inviting you to trust your body, and by doing so, surrender to the process of birth which is to OPEN and relax.
You’re not just making shapes, you’re CHANGING shapes too!
As your baby grows, so do you! Some postures and shapes that may have worked early on might not bode so well as our bump grows. There’s also a list of postures that are NO NO’s for pregnant yogis – some can lower your blood pressure and make you feel dizzy – majority of yoga teachers teaching in a general class aren’t familiar with or even aware of these (there’s only about 6 hours of pregnancy info provided in a typical 200 hour yoga teacher training, whereas a prenatal trained yoga teacher studies a minimum of 30 hours). As your body is changing shape and making space for baby, your hormones are producing ‘relaxin’ which softens the joints and tissues and means that it’s super easy to over-stretch and lead to pelvic instability (pubic symphysis disorder), so some alignments that work in regular bodies, need to be modified for pregnant ones to avoid all of these. Your prenatal yoga teacher can not only provide a range of safe movement and alignment so that you’re still challenged, but also staying safe but they're likely to have a range of yoga props that you can use so that you're able to continue to practice more comfortably in your body.
Modifying is more than just a baby on board.
Practising pregnancy specific yoga isn’t just about avoiding injury to your baby, it’s about keeping YOU safe and connected – to your baby, your body and the subtle shifts that are taking place on a daily basis, deepening your connection within.
If you’re an experienced yogi then the idea of joining a pregnancy class in your first or second trimester might not be that appealing, so rather than ditching your regular practice altogether, perhaps swap out one class a week for a pregnancy yoga class instead. A class that focuses specifically on pregnancy will usually address some of the common aches and pains that take place – sciatic pain, back ache, pains in the ribs, nausea and general exhaustion just to name a few! An experienced Prenatal Yoga teacher can help you work with some of these niggles that inevitably make an appearance, so that you’re still able to get the most from your practice.
Continuity, commitment and stability...
These are paramount during your pregnancy, 'Continuity of Care' is a model (often used in the medical field) that is concerned with the QUALITY of care over time, where the patient and care provider are cooperatively involved in ongoing health care towards a similar goal that is of the highest quality and attention. We believe that by offering our prenatal yoga classes as a 5 week series in a small group setting, and limiting drop-ins only to those who have attended our pregnancy classes previously, we can offer our prenatal yoga students a quality of care and attention that is above and sometimes beyond what you'll find in a drop-in or casual class setting - because we generally care about YOU and your unique pregnancy journey. Studies show and we know firsthand that the benefits of REGULAR yoga far outweigh drop-in classes, so by offering a series you’ll have the same prenatal yoga teacher and community of women from week to week, providing both continuity and some stability as you ride the (the sometimes wild) ebbs and flows that each day, week and trimester of your pregnancy bring! That way we’re not only getting to know YOU but your bump and we truly love sharing your pregnancy yoga journey with you!
Prepare for a Mindful and Active Birth too!
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a prenatal teacher whose passionate about preparing you for childbirth (the easy part) and motherhood (the sometimes hard part) with more than just yoga! At Bloom, you’ll not only receive the numerous benefits of the postures and breathing during your pregnancy, you’ll also learn tips and techniques that you can use during labour. Ideally, you’ll want to begin pregnancy specific classes sooner rather than later and continue throughout the WHOLE of your pregnancy, that way you’ll gradually learn, re-learn and even reinforce the physical side of things in the lead up to your birth. Rather than trying to cram it all in over a short period of time, each week you might take home some little nuggets of wisdom can slowly be absorbed, some you’ll take on board and others you won’t…take whatever works for you to create your own birth experience. Eventually with regular practice, everything you’ve learned and experienced becomes second nature.
It's all about connection
Possibly one of the best parts of a prenatal yoga class is getting to meet and connect with a community of other women who are pregnant! Pregnancy classes with Bloom Yoga allow for plenty of time to chat about how we feel, what works for us individually and share our collective wisdom free from judgement or expectation. In yoga, we call this joining together a 'sangha', so think of these classes as your introduction to the 'Sangha of Motherhood'. There’s no better resource than other local pregnant women; for things like pregnancy massage, to doula recommendations, to antenatal classes...this list is endless, and so many of the women who have walked through our doors have become lifelong mummy friends from attending pregnancy yoga classes with Bloom Yoga. It’s beautiful to watch the deep, lasting friendships that ‘bloom’ from the connections that have been made in our classes over the last 10 years, seeing likeminded women, babies and families connecting and growing together never gets old.
So by all means, you could continue with your regular vinyasa or yin yoga classes during your pregnancy, but look at everything that's on offer with pregnancy yoga! Attending specially designed prenatal yoga classes is not just about accommodating your growing belly, it’s also about expanding your mind, exploring your options for birth and joining together as a collective community as you begin your journey into motherhood. Pregnancy yoga offers a depth and a warmth beyond the yoga postures themselves, and like everything in life, some teachers will resonate more than others, so seek out a class (and teacher) that suits – you’ll know your community when you find it!
All the best mamas!
Bloom Yoga was conceived in 2009 to offer prenatal specific yoga classes in Perth’s Northern Suburbs. As mothers ourselves, we are especially passionate to share the benefits of yoga with women as they journey through pregnancy, birth and transition into motherhood. Prenatal Yoga teachers at Bloom Yoga have undertaken a minimum of 90 hours of pre-natal specific training and have personally mentored with Sara Evans, our Founder and Principal Teacher. Sara has taught more than 3000 hours of pregnancy yoga over nearly 10 years in addition to Yoga for Active Birth Workshops which bring together her continuing education as a Prenatal Yoga Specialist, Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula and she is mother to two children, George + Morgan. Sara is the lead facilitator and trainer for Bloom Yoga’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training Program: Yoga for the Modern Mother, a 100 hour specialty training registered with Yoga Australia for yoga teachers looking to learn, share and teach Pregnancy Yoga classes in their local community.
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