Prenatal Yoga is the beginning of your journey into motherhood. Practicing yoga while pregnant, with another life inside of you, teaches you the core practices of yoga mainly breath, mindfulness, and awareness in the moment.
As you approach your 3rd trimester you are really forced to listen to your baby while you practice – what works for you, what works for them in each posture. If you listen closely, you can connect on a deep level with your baby before he/ she is born. I believe that what you do, think, read and listen to while pregnant helps to form and shape the being that lives within you. How magical it is to enjoy yoga and meditation with your child before they are born. Prenatal yoga is about being present on your mat with your body, breath, child and these are the foundations for mindful parenting.
What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?
The benefits of prenatal yoga are tremendous and vary from mother to mother. I found that I not only cultivated my own inner and outer strength and flexibility but I also enjoyed indulging in the prenatal yoga classes and practices for me and my children. Many of my students comment that they felt more prepared mentally and physically for labor and childbirth as a result of the prenatal yoga practice, with specifies poses, breathing practices, and mantras to guide you through whichever delivery and birth options you choose.
If you can’t get to a prenatal class, try to turn on some inspiring music, find a quiet spot in your home, and spend time on your mat breathing and moving with your baby in postures that feel authentic to what you both need. In the morning it might be a more energizing practice with modified sun salutes and standing poses , and wide legged forward folds to open the hamstrings for the day. An evening practice might be more focused on hips, seated poses, seated forward folds and restorative postures to help promote a restful sleep. Squats and pelvic tilts ( on your back if comfy or on all fours) should be part of your daily routine. There are many controversies in prenatal yoga postures, so it’s important to listen to your own body and your baby each time you practice.
Even 10-20 minutes daily can greatly reduce swelling, insomnia, leg cramps, and there are some postures which are wonderful for helping guide your baby into the birth canal for an optimal birth position.
Once you have had your baby, postnatal yoga is a wonderful way to connect to your new baby. Many studios have mom and baby classes or postnatal yoga classes that you can start 6-8 weeks postpartum. These classes are a great way to meet other new moms, and move through postures to reconnect with your core. We work on opening shoulders, which can be tight and pulling forward from breastfeeding, carrying the baby, not to mention all the baby gear! We also work with reestablishing the stability in the hips in our standing poses and find unique and interesting ways to incorporate our babies into our practice. We may start with some infant massage, work on baby kissing push-ups, and gently move into a short vinyasa flow or moving lunges and squats. The babies LOVE the rhythm of moving around the room and while the moms work on connecting to their own breath and body.
In either prenatal or postnatal practice, the key aspect is connection, as it is in yoga. Balancing strength and flexibility on and off the mat are keys aspects of the childbearing years. The integration of our body, mind and spirit can enhance any stage of pregnancy or new motherhood. Prenatal and postnatal yoga have the ability to bring joy and peace of mind to a magical and mysterious time in our lives.
To learn more about prenatal and postnatal yoga, or to sign up for a class, please visit our website.