Pregnancy is an exciting (and scary!) time. If it’s your first pregnancy, then for the very first time in your life every decision you make effects not only just you, but also your precious cargo growing inside. All of a sudden, every morsel that you put into your body has different meaning, and every move you make has the ability to affect the new life you are growing.
What does this mean for your yoga practice? Not a whole lot if you have a strong, consistent practice, but being pregnant is NOT the time to “go big” with new yoga moves that your body has never known.
When I taught multiple public yoga classes most days of the week, I found that I would get a fairly regular stream of pregnant women coming to my rigorous vinyasa classes who were already far along in their pregnancies. Their reasoning? “My doctor told me no more running or high intensity workouts like I have been doing, and he said yoga was OK. I heard your class was very athletic, so I thought it would be good for me.”
As a teacher, my heart always dropped when I heard this. No doctor, when he or she envisions sending their pregnant patient to yoga could possibly fathom how rigorous or heating an intense vinyasa practice can be. YIKES! What I wanted most was for the students in my class to be safe. Most of these women had never practiced yoga before and if they had, it was “once or twice in college,” and they were throwing themselves into inversions in their first classes and taking every advanced option that I offered.
While I always admired the courage of these women, pregnancy is not the time to be introducing new workouts into your life. And, yes, yoga IS a workout — especially when it is a heart pumping, sweaty, rigorous vinyasa flow.
In yoga, there are consistent aims: listen to your body, stay true to you in every moment, be present, pay attention, be kind to yourself, and take deep breaths. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! But not everyone has access to prenatal yoga classes where they live, and if they do, many find that classes can be pretty downright boring to a woman with a solid yoga practice.
If this sounds familiar and you feel confident continuing to go to your regular yoga classes, be sure to let the instructor know that you are pregnant. You can also follow these simple guidelines to keep you and your baby (or babies, if you're like me and carried more than one!) safe, happy and healthy.