by Elise Bowerman
Ultimate Preparation for Labor & Birth
Outside of the endless benefits of yoga, a prenatal yoga class is the perfect place to begin yoga or learn how to incorporate your growing belly into a regular yoga practice.
A Prenatal Yoga practice is more of work-in than a work-out. There's plenty of opportunities to get your work-out on elsewhere. Now is the time to welcome self-reflection, self-realization and connect to you inner self or higher power (according to your belief system.)
Prevents and relieves physical discomfort by mobilizing and improving posture.
Prepares for birthing through strengthening and grounding postures (asanas.) These increase endurance and resilience, allowing the body to move organically. (Which is essential to be able to maintain stamina and commitment.) Cultivates relaxation through visualization and breathing exercises (pranayama.)
Aids in postpartum repair by maintaining and/or improving physical fitness level throughout pregnancy and practicing pelvic floor exercises (mula bandha.)
Increases circulation of energy flow (i.e. blood flow, prana, etc.)
Emotional and Spiritual Benefits
Confidence is gained in the miraculous, developing body.
Nurtures an acceptance and connection with baby.
Develop trust in self, baby and process of birth by tapping into "primal" self and intuition.
Receive support, have fun and let go while creating a connection with other like-minded people (a kula/community of parents-to-be.)
"A relaxed state does not necessarily require a
soft and floppy body:
it is more centered on peace of mind,
acceptance of natural processes and
a willingness to embrace all that labour may offer."
- Andrea Robertson, Childbirth Educator & Author
Postures (Asanas) to Avoid
Anything lying on belly (lying on baby!)
Strong abdominal activation (working with rectus abdominus) (i.e. breath of fire, etc.)
Deep twisting from navel down - upper back/shoulder rotation is OK.
Deep forward bends without space for baby (always create space for baby.)
Inversions (unless it is part of your practice prior to baby, or for therapeutic benefit.)
Prenatal Yoga Teacher Relationship
Your Prenatal Yoga teacher will be the most unchanging and frequent supporter you see in pregnancy; likely, even more than your healthcare provider or any other birth worker.
On average, expecting people visit their healthcare provider (OB/GYN or midwife) for a total of 17 times during the pregnancy. If they invest in childbirth education courses they may see their instructor between one to 12 times.
When joining Prenatal Yoga after the first trimester continuing until the estimated due date, or beyond, you will see your teacher about 28 times! The classes are 75 minutes in length, offering 35 hours with a consistent pregnancy and childbirth advocate.
Class size is usually between 8-12 students, providing each participant ample opportunity to bond with the teacher, and more importantly, with one another.
Some will attend Prenatal Yoga multiple times a week!
Prenatal Yoga teachers offer support for those navigating their way through pregnancy, preparing for childbirth and bringing baby home. There is no agenda to enforce what works for one person to work for another. The time together is about normalizing this organic experience with encouragement that everyone is capable of handling whatever comes their way.
Building self-confidence and acceptance for however this journey may go is the highest priority.
Research/Studies of Prenatal Yoga
Mindfulness During Pregnancy Linked to Healthier Birth Weight in Newborns, 2017
Yoga during pregnancy: The effects on labor pain and delivery outcomes, 2016
Yoga in Pregnancy: An Examination of Maternal and Fetal Responses to 26 Yoga Postures, 2015
Studies Show Consistent Benefits of Prenatal Yoga
Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions, 2012