Yoga For Two: Pregnancy Guidelines From The Ancient Masters
First, Congratulations on growing your family! What a beautiful gift to be creating life. Thank you for being here and taking responsibility for a healthy and safe yoga practice during your pregnancy. A consistent active routine is SO great for you and baby and will contribute to a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
I will start by saying that I have never given birth or been pregnant! The extent of my personal pregnancy yoga experience was when we strapped rolled blankets to ourselves during training to mimic modifying for a pregnant belly! So I give you this knowledge not from bodily experience, but from a deep trust for the ancient teachings of yoga that I’ve received. I have guided MANY moms through their practice safely and successfully through all phases of their pregnancy, and I’m honored to share my knowledge with you here today.
A few general tips that we should really always be following (pregnant or not!):
Listen to your body and honor what it tells you. If it hurts, don’t do it. If it feels wrong, it’s because it is wrong for you. You are in charge here.
Take breaks when you need them. I always tell my students “if you are breathing on your mat, you are doing yoga” – so if you start to get winded, just chill for a moment.
Modify whenever you need to or want to (tips/pics below!)
BEFORE CLASS - ALWAYS tell the teacher if you are pregnant, and if you have any other reasons why you might need to modify (injuries, beginner, anything really) – If they know ahead of time, they can help you modify and they might even tweak the sequence slightly to make sure that the most amount of students are getting the most benefit possible from their class (including you!)
Always obey what your doctor tells you first and foremost. If your doctor says one thing and your yoga teacher says the opposite, side with your doctor. They have your whole medical history and know what’s going on with you and baby. Yoga teachers are not doctors, nor do we claim to be.
Before I get into some “Do’s” and “Don’ts”, just remember to always trust yourself and how you’re feeling, modify for your own level, and obey what your doctor says. Be gentle with yourself and go with the flow – your body is going to completely change – tight things will loosen and loose things will tighten. Let it be and let your yoga be in service of everything you have going on. Yoga and fitness during pregnancy are going to help keep you healthy, strong, relaxed, social, empowered, and feeling great. You go girl!
OK let’s get super specific:
Do deep twists. Just do something else while everyone else is twisting! Or twist only from the shoulders up (GENTLY!) – I’ll leave an example below.
Do deep forward bends. Gentle forward bends are OK, but we want to avoid compressing the belly and pelvis (keep the legs wider than usual and don’t go too deep!)
Lay on your belly (modifications for common postures below)
Do a ton of bouncing or jolting movements.
Lie on your back for too long (particularly 4+ months into your pregnancy). Use props, come to seated, or lie on your left side.
Do abdominal work that is super strong. Keep it simple.
Do any postures that feel overly intense. Keep it simple.
Over stretch. Your ligaments will naturally loosen during this time, particularly around the pelvis, be very aware not to overdo it.
Build too much heat. Rest when you need to – maximum heart rate should not exceed 140. Don’t go to heated classes. Keep your heart rate at a normal pace.
Go upside down. This is a very controversial topic in the Western yoga world. Many teachers will say that practicing inversions while pregnant is completely fine, but the ancient teachings are that ladies do not go upside down during pregnancy or during “ladies’ holiday”. Please, please honor this. You don’t want to reverse the flow and the natural process of your body. You are performing a miracle, and you can take a break from headstand for 9 months. 30 seconds of perceived accomplishment is not worth the risk.
Widen your legs in forward bends to accommodate your growing belly and make space for baby.
Use props or the wall for balance postures! Stay safe.
Widen your base. Being pregnant can get wobbly once your belly gets big – stand with your feet a little wider for extra stability.
Backbends and lateral bends are totally cool. (Just remember not to overstretch or do anything too strong.)
Axial extension is your BFF. If you need a break or are not sure what to do while everyone else is twisting, sit up tall and enjoy the feeling of your long spine.
Prop your Savasana (either elevated or on your side – pics below!)
Come to seated while everyone else is on their back (you can mimic the posture everyone else is in, or practice some extension!)
Focus on your strength. Especially if you’ve been fit since before your pregnancy, keep it up girl! Just don’t overdo it.
Use props and modify.
Have fun – yoga is here to serve you :)
If you have particular postures you would like to know how to modify, let me know and I will be happy to add them in! Please come to me with questions, I want you to feel safe and empowered to continue staying fit during your pregnancy!
Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy!
Be well, xoxo