If you’re expecting a baby (congrats!), chances are you’ve heard of prenatal yoga. You may wonder what prenatal yoga is, when and why you should practise it.
Why practice prenatal yoga?
Simply put, prenatal yoga is a yoga sequence specifically designed for pregnant women. You may choose to start prenatal yoga at any time you wish, but most people opt to begin their practice in the second trimester when common first trimester discomforts have generally subsided.
Prenatal yoga is perfect for mamas-to-be looking to build self-awareness on the mat, and to prepare the body and mind for childbirth. During prenatal yoga classes, you stretch and strengthen your body, learn good postural alignment, and go through poses that can potentially help with labour. You also practise breathing techniques and meditation. Many moms report that their prenatal yoga practice helps them relieve common discomforts such as back pain, pelvic pain, swelling of the joints, etc. The intention of the practice is to help you feel calmer, more relaxed and more confident about your pregnancy and labour.
As a prenatal yoga teacher, I often get asked when expecting mothers can practise yoga until, and the answer is — it depends on the individual. I encourage moms to listen to their intuition and bodies; if you feel up for it, you can practise well into their third trimesters and up till birth. The strength, flexibility and stamina that prenatal yoga cultivates can help you greatly with the physically challenging feat called childbirth!
How long after birth before I can return to the yoga mat?
After birth, you may wonder how to safely return to the mat for your yoga practice. This is where postnatal yoga comes in - it is designed for women returning from birth to several years postpartum. The general advice medical professionals give to postpartum moms is to wait at least 6 weeks before starting an exercise regime, but please note that this is general advice and the recovery process varies wildly from person to person. If in doubt of whether you're ready to resume your yoga practice, please consult your medical provider.
Growing a baby for nine months and experiencing childbirth change the body tremendously, thus the focus of postnatal yoga is on post-birth recovery for mothers. In postnatal yoga, you learn proper techniques to re-condition your core muscles & pelvic floor and strengthen the body to aid in postpartum recovery. Practising yoga also helps women cope with the negative emotions and stress that might have been caused by the birthing experience or the transition into motherhood.
Interested in including baby in your yoga practice? Baby yoga is a fun family activity that encourages bonding between parents and little ones (generally designed for babies aged 3 to 12 months), where parents get to practise simple yoga poses together with babies. Yoga and massage help babies develop motor and sensory skills, aid digestion, and promote better sleep. Practising yoga helps parents gently strengthen and stretch their bodies, calm their minds and relax - I can’t stress how important this is for new parents! Joining baby yoga classes is a fantastic way for parents to ease back into exercise, as well as to connect with other new parents.
Holly Wong is a pregnancy yoga teacher, parent educator, yoga teacher trainer, mother of a toddler and also an expecting mom. Her mission is to provide education and resources to inspire a positive pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. With her teachings, she hopes to lead mothers on a path of self exploration that yoga provides - so that they discover the amazing strength and knowledge that women naturally possess. Holly currently teaches group and private prenatal, postnatal and baby yoga classes. She also runs Yoga for Birth workshops. You can find her on Instagram (instagram.com/hollywongyoga), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/