5 Reasons to do Prenatal Yoga

My love of yoga began when I was in high school and started taking yoga classes one semester as part of our PE program. I’m not sure if it was because I was brand new to anything to do with the practice, or if we had a particularly good teacher, but that class was amazing for teaching the fundamentals of yoga, as well as leaving me with breathing techniques and practices I still use today. We learnt sun salutations, circular breathing, basic poses and the healing power of savasana. Honestly, it was a wonderful addition to the last couple of stressful years of high school.

Ever since then, I’ve done yoga on and off, whether it’s been DVDs at home, or going to classes. In the last couple of years, I would say my practice has become more regular, with me trying to attend classes more often, as well as realizing the benefits of yoga as a runner. It’s definitely become part of my running injury prevention (and knock on wood, I haven’t had an injury since 2010).

My first pregnancy, I rarely did any yoga. I was lucky enough to have a teacher friend who was studying for her prenatal yoga certification, who wanted some practice, so there were a few one-on-one sessions with her. But for the most part, I was so busy working full-time as a trainer, still committed to lifting weights and running, that it didn’t seem a priority. This pregnancy, however, it just happened that a prenatal class in a great studio near me fit in perfectly between clients once a week. I started going regularly and it has become one of the highlights of my week.

There are so many benefits to prenatal yoga, but for me, there are five major reasons why it’s been such an important addition to my pregnancy fitness.

5 Reasons to do Prenatal Yoga
5 Reasons to do Prenatal Yoga. There are so many benefits to a fit pregnancy and while I love working out and running during pregnancy, prenatal yoga has become one of the highlights of my week. These are just some of the reasons yoga has been so important during this pregnancy.

1. It’s a built-in community of pregnant women.

Even though I live in one of the most family friendly areas of Brooklyn (read: you cannot leave your apartment without seeing a stroller or a baby being worn), it’s still not like I can just go to a local cafe and run into 20 or so pregnant women all in the same place. Community is such an integral part of any major life change – it’s so beneficial to feel like there are others who ‘get’ what you’re going through, who are having the same struggles, joys and experiences. My class, and most prenatal classes, leave a little time at the beginning for each woman to introduce herself and talk about anything that’s going on in the pregnancy that week, from various discomforts, to feelings that have come up that week, to sharing something that may have worked to alleviate a previous issue. I’ve soaked up advice and tried techniques that worked for sciatic pain and indigestion as a result of having that time with a group of women all going through the same issues, or who have gone through them with previous pregnancies. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to meet other mothers before you have the babies – it’s like a birth club before baby.

2. It’s a great way to recover if you’re maintaining a strenuous workout routine.

If I’m at the gym, I want to take advantage of all that iron and get some lifting done. I’m also trying to run at least a couple of times a week, because I love it and because it’s a great cardio workout for me (and baby!). Even though I take my time stretching and doing self-myofascial release work like foam rolling, or using balls to roll, my pregnant body definitely needs more recovery than usual. Prenatal yoga is perfect for that – I look forward to the class some weeks as a way of working out all the kinks and hot spots in my body from a week of working out.

5 Reasons to do Prenatal Yoga. There are so many benefits to a fit pregnancy and while I love working out and running during pregnancy, prenatal yoga has become one of the highlights of my week. These are just some of the reasons yoga has been so important during this pregnancy.

3. It’s a wonderful bonding time with your baby-to-be.

First pregnancies are magical. You are just you – with no small people demanding your time, attention, love and supervision yet, all you have to focus on is the new life you’re creating. You can spend an hour gazing at your belly as baby shifts and moves and kicks. You can talk to it and plan for what it’s going to be like to be a mama to this little unknown person. Second pregnancies? There have been a few times, after early morning routine with monkey, running off to a couple of clients, then heading to my own workout after eating, that I’ve glanced into a mirror at the gym and suddenly remembered, “Oh my god, I’m pregnant!” Now that I’m 33 weeks along, those days of ‘forgetting’ are pretty much behind me, but there’s just less focus on the process during a second time pregnancy. You can tell the second and third time mama in a prenatal yoga class, because they’re the ones who totally blank on how many weeks they are when we do the introductions. (I actually downloaded an app purely to tell me how far along I am every week!). That 90 minutes without kids or interruptions in a class focused on your pregnant body has been a wonderful bonding experience when I just connect with the new person I’ll meet so very soon.

4. It’s teaching you techniques for birth and stress.

Hormones during pregnancy can mean overwhelming emotions that envelop you from time to time. Something that definitely comes up for women in a prenatal class who are already mothers, is that dealing with a toddler while you’re pregnant is tough. If it isn’t bad enough that they’re in that toddler stage (think tantrums, circular logic and an overwhelming desire for independence leading to ultimate frustration), they are also coming to terms with the fact that mama is not going to be all theirs for much longer. Breathing techniques, centering techniques and meditation have all been discussed and utilized as a result of sharing these issues. Similarly, focusing on breathing and learning how to focus your thoughts away from a place of discomfort while holding an active, engaged pose for a long time, are setting you up for a calmer, less stressful period between contractions when you go into labor. Most studios that offer prenatal classes also run workshops for birth and labor. While I’m not planning on taking a birth class, I feel much more positive about the experience of labor, having learned and practiced some ways to relax and let go between the painful parts.

5 Reasons to do Prenatal Yoga. There are so many benefits to a fit pregnancy and while I love working out and running during pregnancy, prenatal yoga has become one of the highlights of my week. These are just some of the reasons yoga has been so important during this pregnancy.

5. There are no expectations, no pressure or ego.

I admit, in regular yoga class there have definitely been times I’ve pushed myself to move further into a pose, or tried a more advanced modification of something, just to see if I can. I’m aware enough of my limits not to push myself to the point of potential injury, but yes, a little competitiveness creeps in for me. In a prenatal class? Not at all. I have no hesitation to head back to a down dog or a child’s pose if something just isn’t working for me. I use the wall for support if I need it during balancing poses. I take breaks to sip tea or have some water. I really listen to my body and respect its limits. I think that will carry over into my regular yoga practice once my body is all mine again, or I hope so, at least. It’s been a freeing experience to really care less whether every other person in class can get into a bind, or pull off a perfect pose when I’m either struggling or simply unable – in fact, I rarely notice what the others in my class are doing.

5 Reasons to do Prenatal Yoga. There are so many benefits to a fit pregnancy and while I love working out and running during pregnancy, prenatal yoga has become one of the highlights of my week. These are just some of the reasons yoga has been so important during this pregnancy.

Pregnancy is the perfect time to really tune in to your body and be okay with accepting whatever you’re physically capable of – without judging yourself, or falling into a comparison trap. As I’m approaching the end of pregnancy, it’s no small feat as I feel more uncomfortable and enormous and heavy and tired, that going to that prenatal yoga class once a week almost makes me wish I could stay pregnant just a few weeks longer. ALMOST.

Is there a workout that surprised you with how important it became to your routine?

Mamas, did you do yoga while pregnant?

Comments

  1. I wish I had been into yoga when pregnant–it sounds like a fantastic way to ease all the aches and pains and get you ready for delivery!
    misszippy recently posted…How to go from base to speedMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I’m not sure anything really can get you ready for delivery (cue me beginning to hyperventilate thinking about going through that again), but it will be interesting to see if I can harness some of these techniques when I’m laboring. I guess I will find out soon!!!

  2. Not pregnant, but I recently found out my hospital offers prenatal yoga classes for only $4 per class. I definitely plan to take advantage of that. I have not been making enough time for yoga lately and need to figure out a way to incorporate it more than 1-2x per month.
    Emilie recently posted…I Had No IdeaMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      $4 a class?? That’s amazing!! You should get pregnant just to take advantage of that deal! (Kidding!!) Yoga has become a really important part of my routine – I’m definitely going to stick with it regularly once I’m not pregnant and getting back into the swing of things.

  3. What a great post!

    While I’m neither pregnant or doing yoga, your larger messages about the importance of community, and of knowing your limits, and of managing stress, and connecting with the magic of the body, and taking recovery time all resonated!

    (And I STILL don’t know how busy mothers do all that they do… you are amazing!)
    crabby mcslacker recently posted…Mindfulness, Exercise, and GrousingMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I think community is such a big part of getting the most out of anything in life – just having a support system that has your back, or you can turn to if you need to, is such a great thing. And trust me, I am nowhere near as busy as some of the mothers I know – I have a few friends who I just ask, “But HOW do you actually do it all?”

  4. I definitely need to do more yoga right now. I have been so-so with yoga for a long time. I started doing it more when I was marathon training because I needed it for recovery. I just now started doing yoga more all on my own at home because it’s the only workout that really makes me feel good anymore!
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections recently posted…Coffee Date Friday { 2.27 }My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      It’s funny how the prenatal classes seemed so easy and gentle at first in pregnancy, but now deep into the third trimester they are getting tougher and tougher! 😉

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