Here are a few useful tips and guidelines on practicing yoga in pregnancy. So that you know what to expect and feel like you have some tools to know what we want to focus on and avoid. Of course, everybody is different, and whilst something could feel amazing for one person it may feel not so great for another, so these are just some guidelines from our Prenatal Yoga Teacher, Portia.
Make space for baby
We always want to make sure that we are making space for baby and for this reason we avoid postures and movements that constrict or compress or strain the belly, such as closed or strong twists, full forward-bends or dynamic back-bends. Essentially gentle opening movements.
Lengthen the lower back
When we come into sukhasana (Easy Pose) or any seated position we want to ensure that we are not collapsing into the lower back and instead lengthen it to bring pelvis into optimal position. Taking a cushion under your sit bones will gently anteriorly tilt the pelvis forward to compensate for any rounding of the lower back.
Be careful not to over-stretch
Did you know that during pregnancy, your body is flooded with the hormone relaxin, which loosens the ligaments and joints? To ensure that we are not over-stretching or just collapsing in the pose we use muscular engagement to protect our lower ligaments from over-stretching.
Focus more on strength and stability than flexibility
Focus more on strength and stability rather than flexibility. This is not a time to get more flexible. So ease off on your range, rather than go to 100%.
Avoid lying flat on your back for prolonged periods
It is Important to avoid lying flat on your back from around 28 wks of pregnancy onwards. This is due to the risk of compressing the vena cava, the large vein that returns blood to the heart, which may cause faintness and dizziness and ultimately restrict blood flow to your baby.
Top tip: A yoga bolster and block might just be you best friend in a yoga class if you do enjoy reclining on your back as this will allow you to lie in a supported supine position with an elevation.
Avoid the active inversions
We do not teach inversions such as headstand, shoulder-stand and handstand in pregnancy. However, restful inversions such as viparita karani (legs up the wall) and anahatasana (puppy pose), can be safely practised throughout pregnancy.
Pelvic Floor Muscles
Pelvic floor muscles can be too loose (hypotonic) or too tight (hypertonic) so it is important to do both strengthening and lengthening exercises. An assessment with a women’s health physiotherapist can determine your specific needs and how tight your squeeze is. We will be posting some more articles about the Pelvic Floor in the coming weeks.
Listen to your body
Most importantly, remember to listen to your body, stay in touch with your intuition and come out of any position that doesn’t feel right or in which you become breathless.