What to consider when practicing yoga during and after pregnancy
by Lisa Grauaug
Pregnancy brings with it a multitude of amazing physical and emotional changes that support the health, growth and birth of a newborn baby.
A yoga practice during and after pregnancy can be supportive, integrative and enable these natural changes.
To realise these benefits there are some key things women need to consider about practising yoga during and after pregnancy:
1. Yoga students who are pregnant and attend general Yoga classes must inform the Yoga Teacher. There are a number of postures that need to be modified or are not suitable during and immediately following pregnancy. An appropriately trained teacher will be able to provide guidance.
2. A woman’s needs change over the three trimesters of pregnancy and after birth. A suitable yoga practice supports the natural changes throughout pregnancy and beyond.
3. There are an array of hormonal changes during pregnancy. One change involves a softening and loosening effect on ligaments and muscles, caused by the release of the hormone relaxin. Because of the effects of relaxin pregnant women are advised to be careful not to over-stretch or over extend in postures and to work with maintaining alignment.
4. During pregnancy there are two beings to consider – the mother and the growing baby. In a yoga practice, one very important consideration is to NOT compress or overly contract the belly to ensure comfort and to safely accommodate the growing baby in-utero.
5. Another important factor is for pregnant women to avoid becoming overheated. A well-ventilated room is essential and over-exertion and strong physical practices are best avoided.
6. A pregnancy or post-natal yoga class with other pregnant women or new mums provides valuable time to share experiences, and a great way to support one’s wellbeing during pregnancy and as a new mother.
If you are pregnant or have recently given birth it is highly recommended to find a pregnancy or post-natal Yoga class. Sometimes finding these specialised yoga classes can be difficult – OR you might be keen to continue attending your regular exercise or yoga class.
If this is the case, attending a general yoga class with a teacher that has been trained to teach yoga to pregnant women and new mothers is strongly recommended. This will ensure that the practices are suitably modified to cater for your changing body, mind and baby.
Teaching pregnancy and post-natal Yoga is a specialised skill set and as part of a focused graduate training in pre and post-natal yoga, a Yoga teacher will gain a comprehensive understanding of the common changes associated with pregnancy.
Some yoga teachers choose to specialise in this area and offer dedicated pre and post-natal classes to support pregnant women and new mothers. We recognise that’s not for everyone, but we believe all teachers of general yoga classes can benefit their students greatly by completing specialist training in this area.
About the Author
Lisa leads the Teaching Pre and Post-natal Yoga course at The Yoga Institute. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Nursing), Bachelor and Master degrees in Psychology, an Advanced Diploma in Yoga Teaching, an Ayurveda Lifestyle Certificate, and has completed a Perinatal Mental Health Course at the University of Sydney.
Lisa is a Registered Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Yoga Australia (YA) Member and Registered Yoga Therapist (International Association of Yoga Therapists IAYT & YA).