Pregnancy and Yoga

I was never one of those women that just loved being pregnant.  I know plenty of you exist, but frankly, I can’t remember ever being like, “oh my gosh, this feels GREAT!”  On the contrary, I was the mom to be that had near constant fatigue, round ligament pain, indigestion, nausea, constipation–the list goes on.  Don’t even get me started about, “that darn bathroom.”

Here’s the thing, I LOVE the end result.  Those babies are absolutely perfect! The process to get them here wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I am so glad I got to do it because I love those little creatures….and I know you mamas out there would definitely agree with that. With each pregnancy, yoga played a significant (and very different) role.

I was a very active mama to be both times. However, with the first pregnancy I had significant round ligament pain (so it basically felt like my pelvis was being split in two with each Warrior Pose.)  By the time I got midway through the second semester, the physical asana practice was basically impossible because the connective tissue was so relaxed (due to the chemical changes in the body that occur during pregnancy).  That meant, instead of the intense yoga I was used to practicing the first time around, I had to practice a little “grace” and body awareness with myself, and back off the deep stretches and focus on meditation and breathwork.  I wish I could say that transition was easy.

With my first, I continued to exercise and move, that exercise just changed to a more weight lifting focus, at the end of which I would focus on relaxing and breathing.  I tried several meditation techniques from guided, to Tratak (using a candle to help focus), to counting methods–you name it. The focus was to learn how I could remain still and calm–regardless what the current circumstance was.

Thank God for that practice, because, as it turns out, I can’t get an epidural because I get gestational low blood platelets, thrombocytopenia (it’s a big word, but it just means my blood wouldn’t clot and so you can imagine the ramifications of a shot to the spine in that scenario.)  Because I knew I was facing down the barrel of a non-medicated delivery, I focused all the more on meditation (even using Ice cubes to help me practice staying focused in discomfort.)For those of you wondering if that works–it doesn’t.  Childbirth is NOTHING like melting ice on the inside of your wrist. 

When I got pregnant with my second child, I assumed the experience would be the same.  Thank goodness it wasn’t. I was able to continue my yoga practice through the very end, even dropping back into backbends into my 9th month.  (I wouldn’t recommend that to just anyone.) Pregnancy doesn’t mean you can’t do the things that you love–it just means that you may have to modify what it is you do for the sake of the little one you will love more than your own life. It means you can’t just do what your brain wants you to do, you have to listen to your body –and the little body you are carrying, and do what feels good.

Pregnancy also is not the time to push your limits. Your body is already being pushed to its limits carrying that little baby (or babies, bless your heart.)  Yoga is excellent during pregnancy. If you have never practiced yoga before, I recommend starting out in a very gentle manner.  You may find Prenatal Yoga classes in your local area, however those are not absolutely necessary.  In fact, at Thrive Yoga and Wellness, we don’t have any prenatal specific classes. We welcome all mamas to be into our classes.  The key is body awareness.

If you want to practice yoga while pregnant keep in mind a few things:  

  1. Heated yoga is usually frowned upon by most doctors (although if you have a current practice and you’re good at listening to yourself, and your doctors says it’s ok, by all means)!  I continued to practice and teach in a heated class the whole way through my second pregnancy, and I taught heated yoga until a week before my first child was born.
  2. In pregnancy, you shouldn’t really twist.  You’ll find at a certain point twisting is out of the question anyways, but keep in mind –esp at the beginning, that you want to limit those twists.  
  3. After about the mid-way point, you also don’t want to lay flat on your back for an extended period of time.  Baby can lay on a super important blood supply and make you dizzy by cutting it off.

Here’s the thing, yoga is supposed to feel good.  If it doesn’t, don’t do it. This is the case even during pregnancy. If I had any advice for new mamas to be, it would be to go easy on yourself. Your body is changing, it’s gonna change in ways that is hard to imagine.  Be O.K. with that. The baby is worth it. You may gain a lot of weight–you may not.  I know I did. Don’t sweat it. That baby is worth it. Your life has enough stress right now, so if you want the piece of cake, eat it. Goodness knows, you deserve it. Listen to your body. Try not to push it too hard. Enjoy each day and how different you feel. When that baby gets here, all the feelings, emotions, and changes will be worth it (and probably forgotten) as soon as you hold that little baby.

Finally, breathe.  You really really really just need to remember to breathe. When that baby finally gets here, rest the required 6 – 8 weeks, and then come back here.  We will have a super special program in place that’s PERFECT to help you bounce back. Thrive Yoga and Wellness has a Mommy Bounce Back online course in development that will be perfect to help you regain strength, flexibility, and balance, all from the comfort of your home. Stay tuned!

Have any questions about pregnancy and yoga? Want to know more about how much yoga is right for you when you’re expecting? Don’t hesitate to call the studio at any time!  We will be happy to help! You can also contact us via the website!