Spring is in the air. Not only are flowers blooming but a lot of new life is starting: I know a half dozen babies that were born in the last month, and many more women who have announced that they are expecting. As a trained doula, I probably have more excitement and interest than most about pregnancy and childbirth. Two of the recommendations I give to women who are pregnant are get the book “The Birth Partner” (a great resource for women and their partners – I make sure that every pregnant woman in my life has a copy) and to go to prenatal yoga.
During my yoga teacher training at Yoga Tree, we had a session by Jane Austin – a very well known prenatal yoga teacher in the community, and Founder of MamaTree Prenatal Teacher Trainings at Yoga Tree. As a doula, I always thought that yoga would be good for birth but it wasn’t until a session with a client of mine that I really learned why.
Here is how pregnant women will benefit from prenatal yoga:
- No need to modify!
I was in a yoga class a few weeks ago, and my teacher said that we were going to be doing a twisting practice. My immediate thought was, “I hope there isn’t a pregnant woman in the class.” A few poses in, I noticed the woman across from me having to modify (when you’re pregnant you should twist the opposite direction – so the twist is “open” instead of “closed”).
When you’re pregnant, you can still take your regular yoga classes, but know that you will need to modify some poses: twists, core work, prone positions (laying on your belly), etc – even before you begin to show. Tell your teacher so that they can instruct you on how to modify during class.
However, if you take a prenatal yoga class, no need to worry about modifications! The class is already safe and geared toward you.
- Prenatal Yoga prepares your body for birth and beyond
The purpose of prenatal yoga is to build strength and openness in your body that will facilitate your pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods. Many of us go to yoga to help balance our bodies – and it’s the same when you’re pregnant. A prenatal class will focus on strengthening your legs and your arms, while stretching your hip and groin areas.
How does yoga prepare mams? Labor requires strength and stamina, and building functional strength in those muscles will make childbirth easier. In the prenatal class I observed with Jane, she also focused on strengthening arms – because you need to build up your baby-holding muscles.
Also, learning to relax while holding difficult poses is great preparation for labor. The breathing and focus you learn while at prenatal yoga is a fantastic tool that can be used during labor.
- Make new friends
Almost every new mother I know made at least one new friend during prenatal yoga. The class creates a bond – by going every week, you build a relationship with other women going through the same life experience as you. If you are the first of your friends to have a baby, going to prenatal yoga will introduce you to other women that can become your support network.
I recommend starting prenatal yoga as soon as you learn that you are pregnant.
You might not be “out” to the rest of the world, and having a safe place to talk about what you are experiencing can be invaluable.
I love observing prenatal classes because there will be women that are only a few weeks pregnant and women who are a few days from delivering, doing yoga side-by-side. It is a beautiful community and one you only get to be a part of for a short while.
Martine Holston believes the world needs visionaries – they propel our evolution. As a Vision Cartographer (and consultant to visionaries), she’s been featured on The Daily Love, Tiny Buddha, Mind Body Green, Live in the Grey, and Brazen Careerist.
When she’s not creating strategy maps for visionaries, Martine is zipping up and down the California coast running through vineyards, hiking through forests, and doing yoga on the beach.
To learn more about Martine and Vision Cartography, spend some time exploring visioncartography.com.