If you're pregnant and want to maintain a safe yoga practice, you might be tempted to keep going to your normal classes. After all, prenatal yoga classes have a reputation for being gentle and "easy." If you are hardcore about exercise, it might be really hard to give up your power vinyasa class. But today, I'm giving you eight legit reasons to try prenatal yoga classes instead.
1. Prenatal classes are room temperature or cooled.
Pregnancy causes us to run hotter than normal. By practicing in a heated room, you are setting yourself up for overheating. Not only is practicing in a heated room uncomfortable, it is also dangerous for the pregnant woman, causing heat stroke and potential harm to the baby.
2. Prenatal teachers understand the different anatomy of pregnant women and will not compromise your pregnancy.
For example, the vena cava is a vein that runs along the spine, closer to the right side. The vena cava is the reason why you'll never see a prenatal teacher laying a student down on her back after 14 weeks. When the vena cava is compressed, the mama will experience anxiety and her heart will start to race. If it's not enough to know anxiety isn't what you're going for in a yoga class, then maybe it's enough to know that when the vena cava is compressed, nutrients and oxygen flowing to the placenta are reduced.
3. Prenatal yoga accounts for the added biologically-induced stress of the pregnancy on your body.
Whether you're willing to admit it or not, being pregnant takes a lot of you. By 28 weeks, your blood volume has nearly doubled. By 37 weeks, you have a fully formed human being ready to enter the world just hanging out in your torso. How do you think all this magnificence happens?
Think back to a time when you were a little kid and you ran your heart out all day long. Think about how tired and exhausted you were after playing with your friends all day, or spending time at a summer camp. Now imagine putting that younger version of you into a heated power vinyasa class.
Do you think that would be something good to do to the body? Prenatal teachers understand that power vinyasa isn't the most beneficial way to spend an hour doing yoga, so they modify for your exhaustion without compromising the practice you enjoy.
4. Community and friendships are formed through prenatal yoga.
No one in a prenatal class is trying to look the skinniest, or bendiest, or youngest. Most of the women present are there to support their journey to motherhood for the first, second, third or even fourth time. The mamas in my classes are all going through the same thing, and they have the opportunity to connect with others through shared experiences.
5. The environment of a prenatal yoga class supports the (sometimes unglamorous) journey to motherhood.
The women in my classes are allowed to bring in snacks and munch throughout the practice. They're allowed to drink and get tea as they please. If they want to pee 20 times I don't care. If they accidentally pee a little bit in a pose, chances are someone else did too. I probably use the word vagina and pubic bone at least once per class. And eventually, almost everyone farts.
Can you imagine feeling comfortable with any of this happening in your power vinyasa class, where the girl next to you works at Lululemon and jumps into handstand like she's 18-years-old? Wait ... is she 18? Damnit. She's 18. She has no idea what it's like to wear maternity jeans.
6. Your prenatal instructor is a bounty of resources.
For some reason, pregnant moms are always on the move, in-between houses or to a new city. Either way, your prenatal instructor is connected to the greater birthing community, and if you have questions or need recommendations, she's sure to point you in the right direction.
7. Classes are heavy on poses for optimal fetal positioning (OFP).
You know those moms who talk about their cesarean births with a little bit of sadness? The ones who have experienced a shoulder dystocia (shoulder presents first) or a breach birth? While not all of these birthing scenarios are preventable, poses for OFP can help with delivery of natural births (should that be what you want ... not all moms do!) Your prenatal instructor will teach a class peppered with OFP poses, even if she doesn't announce it.
8. Your aches and pains will be addressed.
Puffy ankles? Low back pain? Heartburn? We prenatal teachers have got you covered. With poses, techniques and exercises you can do on your own after class, we'll lead you through a practice chock-full of delicious goodies for your aches and pains.
So why would you practice in a generic yoga class where the instructor's prenatal training has a big question mark next to it? To get the most out of your yoga practice when you're pregnant, prenatal yoga can be a great tool. Try out some prenatal classes so you can get an idea of what to avoid in your regular yoga classes, if you're still not convinced.