I am most often asked by prenatal students whether or not it is okay for them to attend yoga classes that are not geared specifically to soon-to-be-mamas. The answer is, heck yeah! Yoga means relationship and there is not a more beautiful time to practice yoga than when you are creating a little being inside of you. Time commitments during prenatal classes or a love of a certain class, studio, or teacher may be reasons why moms-to-be may want to take yoga classes geared toward the general population. Regular classes can be adapted during pregnancy with a little guidance.
General tips for non-prenatal yoga classes:
1. Listen, listen, listen to your body! I cannot say this enough. At this time in your life, your body is at its most intuitive. You don’t need a yoga teacher or anyone else to tell you what is good for you and your body; your body will tell you. IF A POSE HURTS OR FEELS UNCOMFORTABLE, SKIP IT.
2. Tell the teacher you’re pregnant. Even if you think it’s obvious. He or she may not be paying attention to your middle, or may not feel comfortable asking. If your teacher knows, he or she can offer a modification suited to your body, and advise on which poses to skip. Keep in mind, your teacher cannot give you his or her full attention for the entire class. Take care of yourself and your baby by avoiding anything that is painful or uncomfortable.
3. Avoid fast moving breaths. Fast-paced breaths increase your internal temperature and can lead to agitation. During pregnancy your resting body temperature rises and there is no need to raise it further with breathwork. Inhale through nose and exhale out through your mouth.
4. Speaking of heat. Unless you have had a pretty consistent practice prior to be pregnant in a heated room, now is not the time to start. If you are continuing to practice in a heated room, hydrate. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate.
5. Avoid jumping back into chatarunga, especially in the first trimester. If you don’t know what jumping back into chatarunga is, simply avoid jumping.
6. Avoid closed twists The idea is to give your baby more space to grow. Closing off that space is both uncomfortable and counterintuitive.
7. Avoid over-stretching. Sometime during your second trimester your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which encourages flexibility in your joints. This is to help with labor, not to help you do that split you’ve always wanted to do! Be mindful of moving too far into stretches and back off before you reach your limit. While your joints are more flexible it is still possible to tear a muscle.
8. Don’t be afraid to work your body. If it feels good, and you don’t have any medical conditions advising against it, move and stretch and sweat! You are training for one of the greatest athletic feats of all time: motherhood.
9. Avoid core work or backbends on your stomach. Again, the goal is to make more room for your baby, not condense and shrink their living quarters. You have your whole life to do core work!
10. Use props! Even if you didn’t use them before pregnancy, a couple blocks and a strap might be particularly helpful as your body changes.
11. If you did inversions before your pregnancy, and want to continue to do them, and they feel good for both you and your baby it’s fine. Make sure you feel confident going upside down.
12. Live in the moment. This is especially important to remember as your body changes. It is likely that the way you do poses, the poses you can “do”, and the poses you prefer will change throughout your pregnancy. It is best to roll with it. Try not to get caught up in poses you were doing before pregnancy, as your body is working on nourishing a being inside of you. Perhaps doing crow pose is not on your body’s list of priorities. Stay present and take time to notice how your body is feeling. When you roll out your mat, move in a way that feels good each day.