By Amy Erickson, Latitude 44 Yoga Studio 4
Before you start: It is always advised to check with your care provider before participating in physical activity during pregnancy. Your care provider is most informed on your and your baby’s current state of health and is able to make the educated decision on what is best for you at this time. Generally speaking, though, prenatal yoga is encouraged by care givers during pregnancy due to its immense benefits. Prenatal yoga is gentle in nature and easy to welcome into your transitioning body.
Looking for an instructor: Prenatal yoga is a specialty and requires additional training to not only keep momma and baby safe, but to also structure an effective class. A 200-hour yoga teacher training (for general yoga practice) is required plus 90 additional hours for the prenatal yoga specialty. I have completed extensive training.
How is prenatal yoga different from regular yoga? There are many variations. The movements are tailored to meet the needs of the changing body and prepare momma for the labor and delivery process. There are also movements that need to be avoided (select forms of twisting for example) to keep momma and baby safe. An experienced practitioner/yogi is generally okay taking a regular yoga class after discussing modifications with a trained professional in regard to poses and sensations to avoid. Mom would need to be extra mindful of her movements if taking a regular class. If opting for regular yoga classes, you still get the great benefits of yoga but are excluding the great benefits that are specific to prenatal yoga.
The poses themselves can change slightly or more dramatically over the course of the pregnancy depending on the woman and the pregnancy. Various poses are more beneficial in specific trimesters, and various poses are to be avoided.
What are the benefits? In class, we focus intently on breathing, including its effect on feelings of stress and tension, ways to use breath to calm the mind and body in intense situations (labor!), bringing awareness and a sense of connection to the pelvic floor, strengthening and preparing parts of the body that are most affected by the beautiful changes caused by pregnancy, and learning ways to be mindful of your needs. We assist in filling your toolbox with the mind-body connection and strength that is helpful both on and off your mat, during your pregnancy, labor, and post-delivery.
Our classes range in size and ebb and flow as our mommas welcome their little ones. We then “meet them on the other side,” as we like to say, as we also offer postnatal yoga! Babies are welcome to postnatal yoga, so it’s nice to see the ladies and babies come full circle. Partners are welcome to participate in both prenatal and postnatal yoga!
Amy Erickson is certified through the Yandara Yoga Institute in Baja California Sur, Mexico (RYT200, in process of RYT500), 8 Limbs Yoga Centers in Seattle, Washington (Prenatal Yoga – RPYT), and Barre Bliss in Minneapolis.