What are the differences between a “regular” yoga class and a prenatal yoga class? If I’m pregnant, should I find a prenatal-specific class or would any yoga class do? What if I’m still in my first trimester?
These are some questions you may be asking if you’ve considered taking a yoga class while pregnant. While a yoga class is not recommended for all situations, as long as your care provider gives you the go-ahead, a prenatal yoga class could be very helpful for your mental and physical health, preparing for labor, and connecting with other expectant mothers during any stage of pregnancy. Below are a few key components you’ll find in a typical prenatal yoga class.
- Check-ins: Many prenatal yoga classes start with a check in. This includes going around the room and sharing your name, number of weeks gestation, and something else to share like how you’re feeling that day, if you have any requests for the class, or if you need a recommendation for something. This is often a tool for the teacher to change up the class plan or suggest modifications as issues arise. In my opinion, the greater benefit is that the check in fosters a sense of community among the students. Chances are, someone is experiencing or has experienced something you may be struggling with and can offer help. This can also start a dialogue that eventually leads to lasting friendships.
- Belly-friendly poses: The general rule with yoga in pregnancy is not to try any new advanced poses. For example if you want to work on your headstand, pregnancy is not the time to do it. In addition to that, there are some other aspects left out of the prenatal class due to safety reasons like closed twists, abdominal work, and any poses that involve laying flat on the stomach. All of these can easily be featured in a typical non-prenatal yoga class, and there are risks with these moves even if only a few weeks pregnant. So the pregnant student attending a non-prenatal yoga class would have to be aware of what is and isn’t safe and make modifications as needed.
- Preparing for labor: A regular yoga practice throughout pregnancy could develop skills to help with labor. In addition to belly-friendly poses that can translate to laboring positions, prenatal yoga will use tools to exercise mental muscles too. With a focus on mindfulness and calling attention to breath, students learn to move with and listen to their bodies. While this could also be found in non-prenatal classes, in a prenatal yoga class, it’s extra special because attention is also called to the beautiful and amazing process of growing a human (or multiples!), and emphasizes the strength of the expectant mother.
These are all key components that translate to benefits of attending prenatal yoga classes at any stage of and all throughout pregnancy. Sometimes, though, a prenatal class is just not available. If this is your case, avoid heated classes, and be sure to talk to the teacher before class so they can be aware and help with modifications as needed. However, many yoga teachers aren’t trained in prenatal so they may not know what may be necessary to keep that student and her baby safe. Do a bit of research, talk to your care provider, and if something ever doesn’t feel right, STOP. Listen to your intuition. Try to find an available prenatal class if at all possible.
So for any mamas reading this, I do hope to see you in one of my classes someday! You are strong. You are amazing.
Your questions, comments, concerns, feedback, and requests are always welcome. Thank you for reading.