The Do’s And Don’ts of Yoga When Pregnant
When I fell pregnant with Bodhi I was working full time and teaching 5-7 classes per week along with workshops and retreats. It was busy and I was nauseous and honestly – I was confused. I wasn’t sure how to continue to teach classes appropriately whilst also honouring where I was in my life; growing a human! I knew how to practice yoga. I knew how to teach yoga. But I didn’t know how to do either as a pregnant woman. I wasn’t taught about this in my Yoga Teacher Training. Traditionally yoga wasn’t even taught by women, let alone pregnant women. I remember Googling things like “how to teach yoga while pregnant”. Of course I was determined to teach and practice as for as long as I could. I taught classes up to 35 weeks pregnant and practiced right up until the day before I gave birth. After having gone through a full pregnancy as both a student of yoga and a yoga teacher and researching as much as I could, these are my Do’s and Don’ts:
DO Pre-Natal Yoga
Even though I had a strong personal yoga practice, I felt the need the need to carve out time each week just for me. The pre-natal classes I attended were lovely and really gave me the opportunity relax, prepare for a natural birth and to connect with my growing baby.
Yes I am aware you are not supposed to practice yoga with a fully belly but those first few weeks were nauseating! From week 7 to 15 the only thing that helped keep the nausea at bay was having something in my stomach. Even though my meals were pretty carb loaded (bread, pizza and chips), my teaching snacks were dried mango and dried apple pieces – couldn’t get enough of them.
DON’T Strengthen Core
I avoided demonstrating any core strengthening postures. This was pretty difficult to adjust to as I used to teach a core yoga lunchtime class. Once everybody knew I was pregnant I would usually get a student who attended regularly to demonstrate any core postures. Its important that you move gently in your practice, especially in abdominal region so as to avoid issues like DR (Diastis Recti) postpartum.
DON’T Lie On Belly
Maybe this is an obvious one but from very early on, I avoided lying on my abdomen. It just didn’t feel right to compress or put pressure on that area. You ideally want to create as much space as possible. All back strengthening postures that required me lying on my belly, I just verbally instructed and/or used someone else to demonstrate.
DO Only Open Twists
Again, this is about avoiding any compression of the womb. Twists are great and extremely beneficial however I just kept it to the upper back, shoulders, thoracic spine and always extremely gentle. I kept the lower belly free at all times from twists.
DON’T Overstretch The Hips
During pregnancy and menstruation, the relaxin hormone in the body is quite high. This causes the body to be looser and more flexible which is great to prepare to open up for birth, but not so great if you overstretch. I remember during my last week of teaching, I taught 3 hip opening classes and felt a twinge for the rest of my pregnancy. I had overstretched and had to endure some PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) for those last few weeks.
DO Slow Down
Listen to your body. Pregnancy is a time to nurture and nourish. Make sure to rest when you need it and always come back to your breath. It’s great to maintain your strength whilst pregnant as a certain amount of stamina is required for childbirth, however, relaxation, pranayama and meditation are equally as important. Yoga is a spiritual practice for self realization so use this time to connect with the divine being inside you.
If you are practicing or teaching while pregnant, move mindfully and honour your body. Hope this helps. If you have any other tips or tricks for yoga when pregnant, please share in the comments below. x