Photo: Pure Presence Photography
If you're not ready to give up your regular yoga practice, but are not sure how to adapt your practice to accommodate for that bun you're baking, here are my most basic tips.
First, clear your yoga practice with your midwife or doctor AND tell your instructor you're expecting. Basic truths in life: full disclosure yields the most honest relationship and best chance for success.
Do 80%: If you normally practice five days a week, either cut to four or scale back the intensity of your practice. The most important thing you're doing these days is creating another person, so devote some of your time and energy to that, why don't 'cha? If you're relatively new to yoga and attending a non-prenatal class, assume that you will participate at the 80% level. It's ok to get a B- this time.
Don't put an oven in a sauna: My general rule for my own life is to use the past 2,000 generations of humans on Earth to evaluate my own behavior. Have they illustrated great success doing what I'm trying to do? If not, why not? Has this most modern generation demonstrated success? I feel this way about super-heated yoga. Even if YOU have been doing it for a dozen years, it isn't time-tested (the way tofu has been for 5,000 years) nor is it a very popular thing to do (like air travel).
Say Goodbye to Tummy Time: Save it for baby! Do not lie down on your belly. Do not put pressure on your belly. No matter what the instructor tells you to do, if it involves pressure on your belly, just skip it. Substitute neck and shoulder stretches you've learned in a prenatal yoga class. Similarly, if you are instructed to take a forward fold that would put pressure on your belly (either standing or sitting) try bringing your legs wide enough that you can do the pose without hitting your belly.
(Don't) Do the Twist: Twisting your pregnant belly is not a great plan for you later in life. Try not to turn any further than you would if you were backing out of a parking space. Avoid anything that brings the opposite arm to the opposite leg. Often times you can turn the other way, like in the photo listed at the top of this article.
Don't Rock the Boat: A couple of meanings here. First, no core work. None. Any time the rest of the class is doing crunches, sit-ups, or boat pose, get on hands and knees and do spine strengthening exercises from prenatal or take child's pose (no pressure on belly). Additionally, no jumping. You won't want to jump, but you might be in a crazy yoga class where the instructor tells you to jump forwards and backwards or other silliness. No jumping.
Get Off Your Back: There are times when it is appropriate for you to lie on your back during pregnancy and times when it isn't. If you're not sure, stay off of your back. The end of class savasana is a delicious and important time during which your body is focused exclusively on healing. Don't skip this part, but do skip the back-lying variation. You can easily lie on your side and use blankets and blocks to support your knees and head and make you comfortable.
Each woman has the right to make her own decisions about what is best for her body during yoga, and this isn't a comprehensive list of everything a pregnant woman would want to avoid. When in doubt, I recommend choosing something from the vocabulary of prenatal yoga and substituting that for the unknown pose.
Finally, do not allow yourself to compete with others, particularly other pregnant women you see doing something I've recommended avoiding. Yoga is not a competitive sport and each mama is responsible only for her own choices. Don't let others make your choices for you!
I wrote this article for Marmapoints. It has some great suggestions for yoga teachers and students, if I do say so myself!
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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