So, you're an expecting mother trying to stay healthy and get some physical movement in during your pregnancy. Congratulations! Moving your body regularly when pregnant has many benefits, including preparing yourself for your upcoming labor and delivery. And prenatal yoga is one of the best forms of exercise you can choose. In this guide, we'll cover what is prenatal yoga, the benefits of prenatal yoga, and some easy prenatal yoga poses you can do at home. 


What is Prenatal Yoga? 

Prenatal yoga is a type of yoga specifically designed for pregnant women. This type of yoga focuses on gentle movements, breathing techniques, and relaxation. 

Prenatal yoga is tailored to the unique needs of pregnant women, promoting physical and mental well-being. A regular yoga class can be too vigorous or challenging for a pregnant woman, which can result in health and safety concerns, so prenatal yoga is the preferred, safe choice. 


Benefits of Prenatal Yoga 

Some of the benefits of prenatal yoga are: 

  1. Reducing stress and anxiety 
  2. Improved flexibility 
  3. Better sleep quality 
  4. Decrease lower back pain and shortness of breath 
  5. Strengthen and prepare the body for labor and delivery 
  6. You may meet other expecting mothers in class and form important community bonds 


    Additionally, pregnant women must prioritize daily movement so they can remain strong for birth. Prenatal birth can support a woman's overall health and prepare the body's muscles for childbirth. 


    Prenatal Yoga at Each Trimester 

    You can do prenatal yoga from the very start of your pregnancy. However, you'll want to adapt your poses as your belly expands. You might also want to change your yoga poses based on your current symptoms. For example: 

    • First Trimester: Many women feel nauseous in this stage of pregnancy, so poses where you're bent over and facing downward may not be best (such as downward facing dog). 
    • Second Trimester: Women often feel a burst of energy in their second trimester, so this may be when you feel comfortable getting more of a workout during your prenatal classes. 
    • Third Trimester: In the late stages of pregnancy, moving around the belly and feeling flexible can be challenging. Prenatal yoga at this stage may focus on slow movements, breathing, and stretching exercises. 


    What to Expect at a Prenatal Yoga Class 

    The typical format of a prenatal yoga class is: 

    1. The teacher will likely open the class by asking anyone to share details about their health concerns so she can offer alternative positions for those people. 
    2. The class will open with some breathing exercises and gentle postures. 
    3. Most of the class will be standing poses, focusing on strengthening, flexibility, and connecting to the pelvic floor. 
    4. The class will end with some cool-down exercises focusing on breathing, meditation, and relaxation. 


    A prenatal yoga class always has a supportive and nurturing atmosphere and helps to foster a sense of community among expectant mothers. 

    There are also couples prenatal yoga classes that can help both parents in the pregnancy experience. 


    Safety Guidelines 

    Of course, it's essential to be cautious when exercising during pregnancy. Consult with a healthcare provider before starting a prenatal yoga class to ensure it's safe for you and your baby. 

    Some steps you can take during class to keep yourself safe are: 

    1. Staying hydrated before, during, and after class 
    2. Avoiding heated spaces 
    3. Modifying poses to accommodate the changing needs of pregnancy 
    4. Only going to class 3-4 times a week 


    Remember to set safe, realistic goals and pace yourself during practice to prevent overexertion. You're here for the betterment of yourself and your baby, and now is not the time to overdo things. 


    Easy Poses to Try at Home 

    If you're too shy, uncomfortable, or busy to attend prenatal yoga classes, you can always try prenatal yoga poses at home. Here are some step-by-step instructions for beginner-friendly poses: 


    1. Cat-and-Cow

    Start on your hands and knees with a neutral spine, looking forward. Your palms should be beneath your shoulders, and your knees should be aligned with your hips. On the exhale, curl your spine slowly so it's arched, like a cat. As you do this, your gaze falls down to your belly (and baby!). Empty your entire breath and take a long inhale. As you breathe in, return to the first neutral position. 

    Modifications: As your belly grows, you may suffer from back pain. Don't overextend when you arch into a cat pose. Instead, make your movements small and focus on your breathing. 


    1. Goddess

    Goddess is a standing pose. Start with your feet a little more than hip-width apart. Turn your toes slightly to a 45-degree angle. Exhale and slowly start lowering yourself into a squat. Only go as far as it feels comfortable, and make sure you're not leaning forward. Raise your arms to the side and up in the air so your hands are lifted above either side of your face. Now, breathe and hold. 

    Modifications: A couple of modifications for this pose are: 

    • Do the pose against a wall so you don't have to worry about balancing 
    • Keep your hands bent at the elbows, so it's not as challenging of an upper-body workout 
    • Do not squat; simply stand in the pose 


    1. Warrior II

    This is a standing position, so start with feet parallel and roughly three feet apart. Extend your arms out on either side of you. Make sure to relax your shoulders down and away from your ears. 

    Turn your left foot 90 degrees and bend the knee into a lunge. Your knee should always stay above your ankle and point over your toes. Turn your head to the left and look beyond your fingers. Repeat on the other side. 

    Modifications: A couple of modifications for this pose are: 

    • Use a chair to support your balance 
    • Do not lunge too deep into the pose 


    Remember getting physical activity in at home is always great, but there's a benefit to going to prenatal yoga classes. A class can offer hands-on guidance and personalized instructions so you know how - and when - to modify poses. 


    You've Got This! 

    Get ready to embark on your prenatal yoga journey with confidence and enthusiasm! Remember, prenatal yoga has many empowering benefits for your body and mind. If you'd like to learn more and continue nurturing your well-being throughout your pregnancy, see how Premama® can help. 


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