All Our Questions About Prenatal Yoga, Answered
Nurtured 9’s guest expert tells us What to expect at a prenatal yoga class - and why it’s worth it
Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is as much about mental health as it is about physical wellbeing. We think one of the best ways to feel better inside and out is with exercise – as long as you’ve been cleared by your doctor – and a prenatal yoga class is at the top of our list for learning how to move comfortably in your ever-changing body, soothe pesky pregnancy aches and pains, and unplug long enough to quiet your mind and relax. Another perk? Being surrounded by other expectant moms who are going through the same ups and downs of pregnancy as you! Translation: If you make a point to smile and introduce yourself to your classmates (as awkward as that can sometimes feel), you might end up making a new friend (for future baby playdates!) along the way.
To learn more about the benefits of prenatal yoga, we went straight to an expert. Read on to help decide if adding in this form of self-care is right for you.
Meet our guest Expert:
Nurtured 9: If you've never done yoga before becoming pregnant, is it safe to do prenatal yoga? Can beginners easily pick it up?
Alok Jhamnani: Yes. Prenatal Yoga is fairly gentle and asanas and flows are specially designed to cater to all levels of yoga practitioners. A good Prenatal Yoga teacher will offer modifications for beginners and more advanced practitioners.
Nurtured 9: When is the best time to start doing prenatal yoga? Should you wait until after the first trimester?
Alok Jhamnani: You can begin Prenatal Yoga as soon as you know you are pregnant AND you have been cleared by your physician. It is a common misconception that one should refrain from Prenatal Yoga in the first trimester, but generally one should refrain from extreme physically intensive activity throughout one's pregnancy. Everyone's fitness level is different, so old measures of what is considered intense, such as measuring heart, are now outdated. A better measure is any activity or exercise that one can perform and can still speak 4-5 word sentences without losing one's breath is safe. Of course, one should ALWAYS listen to one's body. A woman's body changes radically throughout pregnancy and one must never compare herself to another. For example, a particular woman may feel light headed while performing an asana and another woman may not.
Nurtured 9: How frequently can a mom-to-be practice prenatal yoga?
Alok Jhamnani: As often as she wants to :-). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day, six or seven days a week, unless they have medical reasons not to do so. However, ALWAYS listen to your body.
Nurtured 9: Why do you think prenatal yoga is an important part of a mom-to-be's self-care routine? What are the mental and physical benefits for expectant moms?
Alok Jhamnani: Prenatal Yoga and Prenatal Exercise in general has the following benefits:
Improved posture and appearance
Relief of back pain, constipation, bloating and swelling
May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
Stronger muscles in preparation for labor and support for loosened joints
Increased/maintained aerobic endurance
Increased energy level and less fatigue
Decreased muscle tension that promotes relaxation
Promotion of feelings of well-being and a positive self-image
Nurtured 9: Thank you! For more information about CocoonCare’s yoga classes, fitness, and health coaching services for women, please visit www.cocooncare.com or follow along on Instagram @cocooncarewellness.
Personal thoughts from Lindsey:
Preparation: The prenatal yoga classes I took were held at a studio designed specifically for pregnant women and moms, but if you can’t find a studio like that near you, look for classes at your local gym. I recommend investing in a pair of opaque maternity leggings and a few long, stretchy tank tops for your prenatal yoga classes (I attempted to use my pre-pregnancy workout clothes for as long as possible, but quickly realized that they showed my growing belly as soon as I lifted my arms and got into the different yoga poses!).
During the class: As with any new workout class, it’s a good idea to arrive early to get settled. (This is also a good time to say hi to your classmates!) My 45-minute classes always began with quick introductions, and the instructor asked if it was anyone’s first class so she could provide extra guidance if needed.
Key takeaways: Overall, the movement felt great on my body, but my favorite part of taking prenatal yoga was being around other moms-to-be; Since none of my close friends were going through pregnancy when I was, the group classes made me feel a little less lonely about the whole pregnancy experience, which can often feel isolating! Finally, I loved that the teacher asked us if we were dealing with any specific aches and pains and then gave us some specific stretches to target and alleviate those problems - moves that we could later replicate at home.