Prenatal yoga is pretty much the perfect exercise for pregnancy. It helps keep you moving and toned but in a low-impact and gentle way that works with your growing belly and helps with those third trimester aches and pains. Then, of course, there’s the mind-body connection. You get to take time out of your busy work and home life to connect with your body and breath, and “om” out those worries (including the ones you have about baby!). If you’re curious about prenatal yoga and want to learn more, we’ve got you covered — from benefits to poses to online classes you can try right now. But remember: It’s always best to consult with your obstetrician or healthcare provider before beginning any prenatal exercise program.
Definition of Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga is a low-impact exercise and meditation where breath and specific body positions are used to help connect the mind and body. The breathing techniques used might help reduce or manage shortness of breath during pregnancy and help you through contractions during labor. Poses are specifically designed for pregnant women’s bodies.
Prenatal Yoga Benefits
There are a number of benefits to starting a prenatal yoga practice. It can:
- Improve sleep (bonus for those sleepless nights!).
- Reduce stress and anxiety (definitely a plus for you and baby).
- Increase strength and flexibility for the physical body, particularly the pelvic floor, hip, and abdominal core muscles, which is going to help you to prep you for giving birth.
- Maintain prenatal fitness.
- Decreases common pregnancy symptoms, like nausea, back pain, headaches, and shortness of breath.
As opposed to regular yoga, prenatal yoga modifies poses for a pregnant body so that you feel comfortable. It also takes into account your shifting weight and balance. Instead of vigorous flows and positions that are tough on your joints, it focuses on breathing and strengthening via specific poses. Some of the most popular include:
Elevated Legs Up the Wall
This inverted pose helps bring circulation to the legs, womb, and pelvis, and helps to release the pelvis. It also relieves fatigue and offers deep relaxation.
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Elevated Legs Up the Wall This is one of my favorite resting inverted poses that is wonderful for bringing circulation to the legs, womb and the pelvis, as well as for releasing the internal organs and muscles of the pelvis. It also offers a fantastic way to bring balance to the endocrine system, relieve fatigue, and offer deep relaxation. There are many cycles of the legs that can be done in this pose from opening the legs to the sides, bringing the legs into a wall butterfly or easing into a cross legged pose (check out the additional images). One of my favorite books that makes references to these poses as well is The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health by Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden – definitely a book to add to your library! If menstruating, simply remove the elevation and lie with sacrum to the floor. This pose can also be enjoyed during pregnancy, particularly with the elevation so that the weight of baby does not compress the vena cava (however, best not to recline too much in a supine position after about 34 weeks so as to encourage optimal fetal positioning). Alternatively, you can lift one leg at a time to the wall while lying more on your side with a bolster behind you for support. Happy resting! <3 #embodiedwomanyoga #postpartumyoga #postnatalyoga #postpartum #pelvichealth #pelvichealthyoga #legsupwall #womenshealth #womblifting #wombhealing
A post shared by Embodied Woman Yoga (@embodied.woman.yoga) on May 14, 2020 at 8:11am PDT
Elevated Child’s Pose
A soothing pose to rest the heart and ease breathing in between contractions, this is a great resting pose that can help you in labor.
This pose helps to stretch the groin area while opening up the hips, which helps prepare the area for your baby to arrive.
A pose that strengthens the muscles around the hips and pelvis, it also helps promote stability with the ankles and increases balance. All the better to help you walk and give birth to baby!
Prenatal Yoga Online Classes
Interested in trying out a prenatal yoga class? Check out these online options.
Pregnancy and Postpartum TV: This YouTube channel features weekly prenatal yoga and pregnancy fitness classes.
Fit By Larie: This YouTube channel has a variety of workouts, including prenatal yoga videos that range from beginner to advanced.
Lauren Eckstrom: This practice comes from Eckstrom’s 40-week online program called “Initiating the Mother.” You can experience the full program (all 30 unique classes!) through a free 10-day trial when you visit www.innerdimensiontv.com.
Other Prenatal Yoga Sites:
Gaia: The wellness website hosts a slew of pre- and post-natal yoga videos for all levels and varying lengths for prices from $14.99 to $33.25 a month.
Glo: The yoga site offers a number of prenatal yoga videos. You can try it out with a free trial and then continue monthly for $18.