Yoga for Pregnancy ~ more than just a physical practice

When you finally get that happy news that you’re expecting, you get bombarded with (or go searching for) a plethora of information detailing what NOT to do during pregnancy. On the flip side you search for anything that will give you the confidence that you’re doing the best for your body and growing baby.

In terms of physical exercise you are also told that if you’re already engaged in a particular activity that you can potentially continue, with some modifications. But, DON’T start anything new. What, really?!

Ok, so whilst you probably shouldn’t now sign up for that Zumba class you’ve been considering for the past year, there are a few pregnancy specific activities that you can engage in. You guessed it – Yoga!

Of course I may be a little biased being a yoga teacher and all, but I’m also a mama of 3 and know first hand the benefits of yoga during pregnancy and beyond.

The amazing thing about yoga is that every person steps through the doors and onto the mat for a different reason. Some to get fit, others to stretch or to combat pregnancy aches and pains. Some to learn how to breathe, to prepare for labor, to connect with their babies, to connect with themselves, to connect with others. And then some already have 5 kids at home and to be honest just want an excuse to get out of the house ALONE…savasana. Whatever the reason, it actually doesn’t matter, the rest is just a bonus.

Medical experts at the Mayo Clinic have touted prenatal yoga as “a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing.”

I’d argue that in fact it’s so much more.

The benefits of attending a prenatal yoga class (either instead of or in addition to your regular classes if you already attended yoga – read more here!) is the focus that is placed on pregnancy safe modifications, postures to support the growing belly and baby, techniques to combat common pregnancy discomforts and the tools to assist you during labor, birth and into motherhood.

It is the emphasis on the breath, focus and relaxation techniques that can be the game changer for many mothers. Pregnancy and the journey of motherhood are just as mentally and emotionally challenging as they are physically. In fact, it’s often the emotional rollercoaster that mums-to-be are not expecting. This is where yoga supports you on a deeper level.

This focus on correct use of the breath helps to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, engaging your “rest & digest” phase, which allows the body to relax. Imagine the implications of that during labour, during those first challenging weeks as a parent or when dealing with a screaming toddler. (Read more on the breath here!) The ability to control one’s breath is the ability to control the body’s reaction to a situation. That’s powerful stuff.

Attending Prenatal yoga gave me time to myself to connect with my baby and changing body. Returning to yoga with my baby was an excellent way to bond with my baby, strengthen my body, while allowing the recovery process post giving birth. 

~ Jody

Yoga is one of the few activities that continues to benefit you off the mat. It can provide the tools to support you both physically, mentally and emotionally throughout the journey, but inevitably start to permeate into life.

I started prenatal at about 13 weeks and went right through to 40 weeks, initially I was still attending the power classes and I was able to use the modifications I learnt in prenatal. I looked forward to prenatal yoga every Saturday and was always welcomed by Steph. Steph is very experienced and has a loving and nuturing way about her. The class was a great mix of strengthening, relaxation, stretching and pelvic floor strengthening which helped during my marathon labour.
Now with little Neive arrived, I have started going to Mums and Bubs Yoga which is lots of fun and with a focus on recovery and strengthening. Steph is like a baby whisperer and somehow maintains the class running smoothely even when there is a chorus of screaming. I have met some lovely ladies through the classes and its been so exciting meeting the precious babies.
~ Tina
Many mamas-to-be step onto the mat for the first time during pregnancy and never step off, finding that the tools that supported them during pregnancy were just as beneficial for motherhood.
I started attending the prenatal yoga classes with Stephanie early on in my second trimester to help relieve some back pain. I soon found that I was getting much more than a weekly ‘stretching’ session from each practice and found myself feeling really well both physically and mentally after each Saturday morning class. Each week was slightly different and tailored to meet the specific needs of the group. I continued right up to the day before my little one arrived and was even having mild contractions in my last class! As soon as I got the all clear from my doctor at 6 weeks postpartum, I was back in the studio to continue in the pre/post natal sessions. The classes were just what I needed to transition back into exercise and regain strength.
Hugo & I are now attending the weekly Yoga with baby session which is a really fun activity to do with him and also a great way to meet other yoga loving mums.
~ Jo

(Tina & Neive, Jody & Oliver, Jo & Hugo – Yoga With Baby)

We love a good journey and our community are important to us at Kula Yoga, so we’re dedicated to supporting mamas through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. Our Prenatal yoga classes are nurturing & supportive, our Yoga With Baby classes help to rebuild & connect, and our regular class schedule offers the opportunity to create a life long love affair with yoga.

Stephanie Williams, our resident pre & postnatal yoga teacher (aka, the baby whisperer), guides a beautiful Prenatal yoga class on Saturdays at 12.30pm and Yoga With Baby on Wednesdays at 11am (last 5 Week Course for 2017 starts Nov 1)

 

About the author: Andy Broadbear is a qualified yoga therapist & teacher, who specialises in pre + postnatal yoga. She is also co-founder of YogaMamas,  a health & wellness blogger, hobby photographer and busy mama of 3!

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Detoxify & energise with Hot Yoga. Tone & sculpt with Power Flow. Strengthen & stretch with Basics and Slow Flow. Relax & mobilise with Yin Yoga at our beautiful studio in Hawthorn, Melbourne.
We also offer Prenatal & Postnatal yoga classes and Yoga With Baby. Our studio also hosts regular workshops, Victorian and overseas retreats to exotic places like Bali and Thailand, as well as a mobile yoga service for community, school and corporate groups. Kula Yoga is the largest studio in the Camberwell and Hawthorn area offering 39 classes, 7 days a week. Enjoy modern facilities, expert teachers and a range of complementary wellness services for optimal health.
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