Yoga to support Pregnancy & beyond: It Depends
Here are general considerations to inform a pregnancy yoga practice. Please remember there are no one size that fits all when it comes to developing a Yoga practice during this special time. The most appropriate practice is always the one that is tailored to meet each individual student. A tailored practice designed to meet the needs of pregnancy will best support pregnancy, assist with birth preparation, labour and beyond.
Lets open up a short summary of some considerations for Pregnancy Yoga!
- Previous yoga experience or personal fitness?
It is recommended not to introduce certain postures during pregnancy if they have not been practiced previously. For example, inverted postures are not the type of postures to introduce to beginner pregnant students. The practice of postures is a developmental experience and starting where the student is at is fundamental. Thus consideration of previous yoga experience and fitness is important.
- Current health during the pregnancy, previous health history, including previous pregnancies.
When developing your Pregnancy practice it is useful to consider how you are feeling and how is your health? For example, if you are extremely tired or suffering from morning sickness, this needs to be considered. Further to this, if you are experiencing back pain and postural misalignment related to pregnancy, then guidance can be provided on the cause, including tips on how to correct one’s posture in Asana (Yoga postures) and in one’s daily activities of living. When a Yoga Teacher has the opportunity to assess and gather information about the student it really assists the process of personalisation of a yoga practice to ensure safety and to facilitate health and healing.
- The hormone Relaxin
The hormone of pregnancy, Relaxin is released very early on in Trimester One and continues to be released in varying degrees throughout pregnancy. It is responsible for the softening of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue, which then allows the expansive growth of the uterus, growing baby and assists with birth. The release of Relaxin in pregnancy affects women in different ways, given this asana choice in pregnancy is important and the modification of postures to ensure one does not over-stretch and to remain injury free is key. Students who are hypermobile (naturally flexible) require even more awareness around being organised and stable in postures. A great TIP to avoid over-stretching in ones Asana practice is to stay with your natural breath length when moving in and out of the yoga postures and with this cultivate a feeling of no force, stability and ease.
- Stage of pregnancy.
Ones yoga practice is tailored to meet the changing needs of pregnancy and the stage of pregnancy. There are guidelines on appropriate postures in pregnancy. For example it is recommended to avoid extreme postures, twisting postures and rapid breathing techniques (such as kapalbhati ot bhastrika breath). These guidelines ensure the safety and comfort of the mother and the baby within. In addition, each woman’s individual needs vary from trimester to trimester. For women close to birthing their needs may change on a weekly basis and ones Yoga practice may change to respond and support these changes.
- Practicing Yoga in pregnancy honours this special moment, the many changes that are occurring within and transition to motherhood
How wonderful- to have the opportunity to talk and indulge in all things about pregnancy and to embrace mother-baby connection moments. Making time for this special time of life is enriching, so very natural, so healthy and a wonderful way to transition to motherhood!
During pregnancy, it is recommended to seek the guidance of a specialist Pregnancy Yoga teacher.
Written by Lisa Grauaug B AppSc (Nursing), B Psych, M Psych, Adv Dip Yoga Teaching, Ayurveda Lifestyle Certificate, Perinatal Mental Health Course (USyd), Registered Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher, Yoga Australia Member