Hi friends! How’s the morning going? Hope you’re enjoying the day so far!
I’m really excited about today’s post because it’s something that took me a while to learn, and is also a popular reader’s request. When I ran my blog survey, so many of you expressed interest in more prenatal and postnatal workout tips –I’m working hard on Post Baby Bod, which will be out this fall- and I can’t wait to share as much info as I can through research and my own experience.
As you guys know, I recently completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training course. (Our graduation party was postponed until next weekend.) During our training, we focused quite a bit on special populations, including pregnancy. As you can imagine, I was the live demo for many of the poses. 😉 I was so excited to be able to use this information in my own practice, especially I was unsure of how to modify during my next pregnancy. It hindered me from practicing yoga as much as I would have liked.
Here’s what I’ve learned about prenatal yoga and modifications for many of the common poses (+ a video, breaking it all down).
Before we get this party started, please remember that you should always talk with your doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes, ESPECIALLY if you’re pregnant. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine appropriate fitness modes and intensities for you. If you ever feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, extreme fatigue, or heart palpitations while exercising, stop immediately.
The goal of prenatal fitness should be MAINTAINING, not ADDING.
If you didn’t do it before pregnancy, now isn’t the best time to start. Focus on maintaining your current fitness level and routine with appropriate modifications, and know that you can always add or try new things after the baby arrives. During your first trimester, you should be able to practice yoga the same way you did pre-pregnancy. After your first trimester as the baby grows, there are some easy adjustments you can make to enjoy and modify your practice as your body is changing.
Some helpful tips for prenatal yoga:
1) Make room for the baby. With your growing belly, many of the poses may feel uncomfortable and cause pressure on your stomach, like forward fold or even chair pose as the belly gets bigger. Step your feet apart to widen your stance, so that when you squat or fold forward, there is room for the belly.
2) Avoid closed twists, or crossing the midline of the body. Instead, twist the opposite direction (an “open twist”). For example, for revolved crescent lunge, your will be facing your neighbor and it will look like you’re going the wrong way. Just own it. 🙂 Also, avoid deep backbends and modify instead.
3) Avoid supine or prone positions after the first trimester, which is consistent with current ACOG guidelines. For any pose on your stomach, I like to think about what muscle groups they’re working. If they’re doing a heart opener, a modified camel is a great option. If they’re working on back strength (through locust or something similar), spinal balance on hands and knees works well. For exercises on your back, many of these can be performed on your side. Otherwise, place a bolster under your torso, so you’re not flat on your back, which is lovely for savasana or supta baddha konasana.
Avoid over-stretching the muscles. We have relaxin coursing throughout our body, to prepare our joints and ligaments for birth, and this makes us super flexible as it is. Just because you could get into a deeper version of a pose doesn’t mean it’s the best idea. Over-stretching the muscles can be painful and take a while to heal. Focus on stability and not flexibility. Instead of trying to find your “max” in each pose, find a point where you feel comfortable and stable.
Set up next to a wall if you need help with balance, and try to avoid poses where you would be at a risk of falling or trauma to the belly.
Here’s a little video where I go through everything (and also make a giant goober out of myself at one point. Don’t worry, I only teach what I know haha.):
Some of the things I didn’t mention:
Inversions: skip these while you’re pregnant. I did inversions until I found out I was pregnant, and since then, I’ve worked on dolphin pose to build the muscle strength for my inversions later on. You will see pregnant women doing inversions in classes, but this is not recommended. For shoulder stand, bridge is a nice option.
Stay away from the heat. Once again, you will see pregnant women in hot yoga classes, but it is generally not recommended because it will raise your core body temperature. Instead, seek out classes with a moderate room temperature.
Poses that are pregnant yogini’s BFFs:
Wide-legged forward fold
Camel, or modified camel
Tree pose (close to a wall if you need balance support)
Most of all, listen to your intuition. Do what feels good, and make sure not to push yourself. Use your yoga practice as an ideal time to connect with your breath, body, and growing baby. <3
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!!
Fellow mamas: what was your favorite type of workout during pregnancy?
Friends sans kiddos: how often do you practice yoga? Are there any poses you’re working on right now??