I’ve been curious about prenatal yoga, but haven’t tried it yet. I’m 36 weeks now. Is it too late to try?
It’s never too late! A good prenatal class will mix yoga postures and practices that help strengthen and prepare for labor with tips and tricks that you can use during labor to create greater ease and comfort. So even if you just get to one class, you might learn something, like sounding, hip circles, or breathing techniques that changes the quality of your birth experience. And if you can take a few classes and incorporate them into a short daily practice for even a few weeks, your body can change remarkably in a short time. You can develop both increased tone and the ability to release in your pelvic floor, for example, or open and loosen your hips, which will support your baby in his/her journey into the world.
I wasn’t very active before pregnancy, I’m 23 weeks. I spend most of my days in bed. . Would this be a good thing to start? Which type of classes?
As stated in the previous question, prenatal yoga classes offer so much more than strengthening and exercise. They offer women who are going through a profound and transformational journey the chance to spend time together and learn techniques for easing typical pregnancy pains and discomforts. Whether you’ve got varicose veins, acne, night sweats, anxiety, or you just sometimes pee a little in your pants, chances are your body is doing some things that you haven’t seen since adolescence. Yoga supports your body’s internal process of healing and awakening, harnesses the power of your mind to influence your emotions and physical symptoms, and connects us with each other, reminding us that we are not alone.
What are some good positions to start the labor process?
In general I tend to recommend that women refrain from trying to start labor unless they have been encouraged to do so by their care provider. It’s incredibly hard to be patient when you can be waiting for weeks for the most significant event in your life. There really is no parallel in modern life where we know something life changing is definitely going to happen in the next three weeks or so, but we have no clue exactly when. I encourage women to be with this incredible mystery and experience their reaction to waiting, rather than trying to push things forward.
If you are past 40 weeks and labor is imminent and just needs a little nudge, some good postures include squats, wide legged child’s pose, still and moving lunges, cat/cow on hands and knees, and standing postures like warrior one. The good news is that none of the postures will bring on labor if it’s not ready, but they can help move things along if your body and your baby are ready.
How often should I practice yoga to get the full benefits?
Ideally every day. Even 15-20 minutes a day can have a huge impact. Of course that requires taking what you’ve learned in class and developing your own practice at home. The Birthing Mama program (www.birthingmama.org) offers 30 individual 10-20 minute videos with specific practices to help you soothe various pregnancy-induced ailments, connect to your growing baby, develop strength & flexibility and prepare for labor & birth. These videos are perfect for assisting you in creating your own unique daily practice.
I feel so huge – can I really do yoga without feeling like I’m squishing the baby?
In a prenatal yoga class you won’t be practicing deep abdominal twists, belly down backbends, or any other postures that would squeeze your baby. We specifically focus on postures that create space inside to help accommodate for your new roommate. As your baby grows your organs tend to get displaced and squished, so we work on lengthening and stretching, as opposed to crunching or twisting. You may practice drawing your navel gently in and up, hugging your baby in with your deep belly muscles, but this is a sweet cradling motion and not a squish.
I feel self-conscious going to a yoga studio that others will see how un-flexible I am – are there simple poses I can feel safe doing at home by myself?
As I mentioned, the Birthing Mama program (www.birthingmama.org) offers 30 different prenatal yoga videos that can help you build a supportive and satisfying home practice. But I would also encourage you not to skip out on the group class because of self-consciousness. Many women come to prenatal yoga who have never done yoga before, so you won’t be the only one who can’t touch your toes. And truly – we don’t care if you can touch your toes, as this is not what yoga is truly about. Many prenatal yoga classes begin with a sharing circle, and you will quickly discover that everything you feel is also experienced by at least one other woman in the room. We’re all self-conscious about something, but yoga can help us release self – judgment and look at ourselves with compassion.
What are some poses to help with ankle & leg swelling?
To support yourself with any ankle or leg swelling, try viparita karani, or ‘legs up the wall’ pose. Lie on your back with your head on a blanket and get your butt as close to the wall as possible. Take your legs up the wall and breathe here for a few minutes. You can take a reclined version of this with your body on a bolster set up on an incline. Or you can just lie on the floor or a couch and rest your legs up on something higher than your heart. There’s a whole video devoted to just this subject in the Birthing Mama Online Program! Whichever posture you choose, try inhaling for the count of 1-2-3-4 and exhaling for the count of 1-2-3-4. This breathing technique will help reduce stress and tension within your mind and body.
Thanks Corinne! So very helpful & informative 🙂 Now that you know all about prenatal yoga, head on over here to enter our giveaway! (Giveaway starts 9/25/14 and ends 10/1/14)
*This is only general information and is not meant for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Always consult your physician or other health care provider about all health concerns conditions, and recommended treatments or exercise.
BIO: Corinne Andrews is the founder and head author of Birthing Mama ~ An online holistic pregnancy program. A subscription to Birthing Mama includes 30 prenatal yoga videos (over 6 hrs!), 6 audio recordings of guided meditations, and over 150 pages of inspiration & education, developmental benchmarks, nutritional recommendations & recipes, self-care suggestions and creative projects to cultivate mindfulness. It also includes an extra library and discounts on online products and consults with Birthing Mama practitioners.
Corinne has been teaching yoga since 2003 and is a senior Embodyoga® teacher, teaching weekly gentle, vigorous and Shabbat yoga classes. She is the Co-founder of Birthing Mama Yoga, teaching weekly prenatal, postnatal and toddler yoga classes.
In addition to yoga classes, Corinne teaches private yoga sessions for health and healing at Atkinson Family Practice. She is the mother of two children who are her greatest spiritual teachers and the focus of her life when she is not practicing or teaching yoga.