What should you know before attending a prenatal yoga class?
Even if you have never taken a yoga class before, when pregnant you should consider taking prenatal yoga. I am sharing my experience so you have an idea of what a prenatal class may include. Classes and instructors vary, so always let the instructor know that you are a new student and share any physical limitations before class.
I was restricted from engaging in any kind of physical activity during my first pregnancy, including yoga. This time my doctor allowed me to start taking prenatal yoga (with modifications) at 5 months pregnant. I was ecstatic and immediately began researching classes. Luckily I found a popular class right here in my neighborhood and enrolled right away.
What was the class like?
At least 20 other participants at various stages of pregnancy lined the room before each class. We started our practice by introducing ourselves, sharing our due date, what we were expecting a boy/girl/surprise, and at what hospital we planned to deliver.
The instructor was very warm and interested in building community between the pregnant mamas. The community aspect is really important since we were often talking about how the various yoga poses would prepare us for labor. It was serious girl talk, and you want to make sure that you are among friends when talking about such fun topics as squatting through labor and how to encourage your pelvis to open.
It is the community and friendships that seem to bring people back even more than the yoga practice itself.
During class we engaged in vinyasa flow, connecting breath to movement. The flows were modified to meet our prenatal needs, but flow we did, and our entire group was very intent on making sure we could master the breath before labor.
I found the flow similar to other yoga classes I had taken in the past and barely missed the poses that we avoided (more about poses to avoid below). We always started our class standing, moved to sitting and eventually ended the class in a side lying final relaxation.
I was the only one in the room who used yoga blocks, which surprised me. Rows of yoga blocks were stacked against the wall but the instructor didn’t mention using them, so people didn’t. In my third trimester I found poses like triangle and side angle so much easier with a block. Looking around the room I noticed many participants out of alignment in these same poses, forced to lean forward in their changing bodies. They would have received a much greater benefit if they would have used a block and stacked their joints, allowing for elongation and opening.
Honestly, if you plan to take prenatal yoga and the facility doesn’t offer yoga straps and blocks, then I highly recommend you bring your own. Your center of gravity changes throughout pregnancy and you will be glad you have them to maintain alignment. You can buy a yoga strap and block at stores like Target to Walmart or order them from Amazon.
Prenatal Class Exclusives
During our prenatal class the sense of community was so great that our instructor had us chanting at the end of class. And not just typical yoga chanting. We chanted for our friends in class who were at or past their due date. Specifically, we chanted for their cervix to open.
And it was awesome.
There is nothing like 20 pregnant mamas chanting, “Open Susie’s cervix” 5 times while the entire class is settled in a very deep squat.
The families watching their children’s ballet class next door must wonder what is going on as they hear the chanting through the wall. The idea of their bewildered expressions while we chant makes me smile.
The particular chant mentioned above might be the brainchild of the teacher who leads this particular yoga class. In other words, you can’t expect cervix chanting in a prenatal yoga class because these results may not be typical. 🙂
Ultimately, what is the benefit of taking a prenatal yoga class?
Yoga is a great way to stretch, but it is really about the community of women in the room with you. In what other fitness class can you joke about cervix dilation, your changing body and the other aspects of labor and pregnancy without having to weigh your words?
If you are pregnant, it’s worth a try if you have clearance from your physician.
What yoga poses and exercises should you avoid during pregnancy?
Many of the poses you should avoid in the second and third trimesters include:
- lying on your back (nope, not even happy baby pose)
- inversions (no headstands, shoulderstands)
- lying on your belly
- deep back bends (no wheel)
- deep forward folds
- deep twists
- hot yoga
- any pose that doesn’t feel right
Forward folds, twists and other poses that become difficult may be modified as possible.