By Talia Falcon Blackburn, Yoga Instructor
Pregnancy is one of the most liberating, scary, beautiful, transformational experiences a person can live through. In the months leading up to pregnancy there are many emotions and advice, conversations and preparation. When you finally see that positive little test, it feels like you can exhale for a second.. And then the process repeats itself.
One of the most important, yet hardest, things during pregnancy is to take care of yourself; mind, body and soul. One of the best ways to do this is through prenatal yoga!
How is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga?
Any yoga is beneficial! There are many instructors who, if you were to walk into their class pregnant, could cue and modify their class to help you. But, prenatal yoga guarantees an instructor that has been trained on postures and breathwork that will really benefit you and your baby. You don’t have to worry about learning the modifications by yourself, because the class is meant for the season of life you are in! And, if you are early on in your pregnancy and don’t want to go through a whole conversation with a stranger about it... you can just show up, no questions asked :)
With that, here are 5 reasons you should try prenatal yoga!
Keep it moving! One of the best things you can do during pregnancy is to find gentle movement for your changing body. Prenatal yoga is a great way to keep the muscles active, build strength in this new version of your body and prepare the body for the physical demands of delivery. Prenatal yoga helps bring awareness to the physical body, not in a way that demands you push through anything or force it.. But that empowers you to notice your body and bring loving awareness to it in the present moment.
Getting in Touch with the Breath Some of the only times we are told to pay attention to our breath is during yoga classes, but this practice of connection of breath also happens during the delivery process. Prenatal yoga gives us a space to practice connecting to our breath. We use the breath in many ways throughout pregnancy and especially during birth. Breathwork is a tool for our physical well being, our mental well being, and our emotional well being. Having the opportunity to be guided through a breathwork or pranayama practice is very beneficial throughout pregnancy and beyond.
Connection to Baby A huge benefit to prenatal yoga is to cultivate a genuine connection to our growing babies. Maybe it seems like it should be obvious that we connect to our babies - they are literally inside of us after all! But, it can be really dicult for some people or for everyone at dierent stages of pregnancy. Using dierent meditative techniques, we can develop a beautiful connection to our babies as they (& we!) grow and change, making the process of pregnancy even more special.
Ease Aches and Pains One of the most helpful parts of my own pregnancy was going to a yoga class, telling my instructor how my body was feeling and having that instructor adjust the class to help the ailment I was facing that day. Prenatal yoga pinpoints the parts of the body that are shifting due to our growing bellies and uses postures and breathwork to help the muscles strengthen and stretch when necessary. Prenatal yoga instructors use props and modifications to help ease the typical pregnancy pains (low back, hips, ligament pain!). This is helpful throughout the entire pregnancy, but especially at the end when things are feeling quite cramped! 5. Community! Finally, one of the most critical benefits of prenatal yoga is being surrounded by a community of women in the same season of life as you. Prenatal yoga oers a space for women to gather and connect. New mothers and babies are made to be nurtured and cared for in community with others. Even though you may have an amazing family or friend group, it makes a dierence to have other people who are feeling the same pains you are, wrestling with the same decisions or fears. Having the ability and space to connect with other pregnant women each week is really special, and also creates a beautiful little community of babies for your little love once they arrive.
Although I only touch on 5 here, there are many more benefits to prenatal yoga. If your doctor or midwife encourages you to take a class, go for it! And, if you need help figuring out where to start, you can ask your doula for recommendations, look at yoga studios and ask if there are prenatal instructors or search online.
If you are local to Greensboro, I teach prenatal yoga every Tuesday evening at 5:30 PM. Classes are $15 and are located at Southside Studio Co-op (337 Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Greensboro NC). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!