I started teaching prenatal yoga at Union when they opened the doors to their beautiful studio just over a year ago. I’ve had the opportunity to meet students at the very beginning of their pregnancy journey (when I was one of the only people who actually knew they were pregnant) right up to seeing them attend their last class right before birth. It is pretty special to see the changes week by week and learn from their experiences. It’s been a wonderful journey and I have loved creating and being a part of the yoga mama community.

One of the best parts of teaching prenatal yoga when I discovered I was pregnant was that I felt even more connected to this group of woman. I have personally used these woman as resources for help with many of my questions and have built some special friendships through our weekly yoga practice. I had to give up teaching a few weeks ago as I’m due this month, but looking forward to not only teaching again (with lots of newfound knowledge), but participating in the post-natal & mama/baby classes at Union. This blog is to share my experience as a pregnant, prenatal yoga teacher, and all that I have learned from teaching at Union (a version of this article originally was published in Elephant Journal)

Every time a pregnant woman walked into my yoga class, I’m sure I had a bit of a terrified expression on my face. I knew the basics, but I wasn’t confident beyond that. I wanted to learn more and signed up to complete my prenatal teacher training in May 2014. I realized that I had been fairly naïve up to this point, but was now excited about how much yoga could support women during pregnancy and labour.

During my training I learned that you can still complete a challenging flow practice, but that some postures should be avoided during pregnancy. Some poses to avoid include:

  • Deep twists – they put too much pressure on the uterus..
  • Core work (think boat pose and crunches) can cause abdominal separation known as diastasis. This isn’t the time to start working on your 6 pack. Extreme backbends also fall into this category due to the core required.
  • Deep forward folds with your legs together can compress blood vessels and nerves, separate your legs at least hip distance apart and take a slight bend in your knees.
  • Inversions – there is quite a debate about this one – I recommend you do your own research and decide based on the level of your practice prior to getting pregnant. I have personally avoided inversions throughout as they didn’t feel right in my body.

Fast forward to January 2015 when the double lines appeared on my pregnancy test. Life, and my body, was officially about to change. I’ve tried to practice what I preach (and teach) by keeping up a regular yoga practice throughout my pregnancy. I take regular classes (that I adjust with modifications) and prenatal classes. Here are a few other tips – from one pregnant yogini to another:

  • Holding poses for a minute or longer – the average time of a contraction – while focusing on your breath – is a really valuable practice for building confidence, and physically preparing your body for labour.
  • Find a yoga community with other mamas. In a regular class, people often put their mats down, practice and leave. In prenatal classes, there is usually a chance to connect with others who are also going through a major change in their life, and can relate. There is something special about practicing with other mamas-to-be and creating a bond with these woman. I’ve loved having this at Union!
  • The power of squat pose – I’m obsessed with doing this pose every day and read that it can help open up your pelvis as much as an extra thirty percent. During my birth preparation class we practiced squatting as a possible and potentially efficient position. I noticed that most of the woman in my class struggled to get into this and I’m thankful for my yoga practice.
  • It’s a great time to acknowledge when to slow down and lose my ego in yoga; I don’t need to go up into crow, child’s pose is the perfect place to be, and I don’t need any excuse to chill out in a longer savasana. I always feel better after going to a yoga class and this applies even more during pregnancy. Everyone feels differently during their pregnancy and this is not the time to get into the deepest variations, but to listen to your body. Your body is not only growing a human, but an organ too, and this is hard work.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to experience prenatal yoga while being pregnant and I’m looking forward to how this will connect me to all of my future students. I’m sure I’ll have even more to share post-baby and looking forward to teaching again at Union.

Prenatal yoga drop-in classes are offered every Wednesday evening at 6 pm, and Sunday morning at 10 am. Already had your baby? Union offers Mom + Baby classes too! Sign up

#prenatalyoga #postnatalyoga