What Is Prenatal Yoga?

Prenatal yoga is a pregnancy-safe style of yoga designed specifically for the needs of women who are in their first, second, and third trimesters.

As well as leading to a stronger connection with your baby and your body during this special time, prenatal yoga is also great for easing pregnancy discomfort and equipping you with helpful tools to support you during labor and birth.

In this article, we will learn about the benefits of prenatal yoga, what it is, when to practice, and how to practice. We’ll also be sharing a few of our favorite poses and online classes so that you can get started today!

Prenatal Yoga Definition

Prenatal yoga is a style of yoga designed to support women and their babies during pregnancy.

During a prenatal yoga class, you can expect gentle movements combined with strengthening poses and relaxation. It’s also common to practice pranayama (or controlled breathing) during prenatal classes. Learning how to control your breath can help you relax your muscles and nervous system – a skill that will be particularly useful when your baby decides to make its way into the world!

Prenatal yoga is a great way to start bonding with your baby before their arrival and is effective in soothing the aches and pains that often accompany pregnancy.

By attending in-person prenatal yoga classes, you’ll meet lots of mothers who are on the same journey as you and have the chance to build your very own new mom support network.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga has many of the same benefits as any other yoga class, with the added benefit of being supported as an expectant mom! Here are some of the benefits you will likely experience from attending prenatal yoga classes.

Improved sleep

Prenatal yoga classes are designed to help you relax, which can help induce sleep at night. You’ll also work on relieving the aches and pains that might otherwise keep you awake at night.

Reduced stress and anxiety

Spending any amount of time practicing yoga is an opportunity for you to leave your stresses behind and relax on your mat – something particularly important during pregnancy. Research suggests that women who attend regular prenatal yoga classes experience less stress and anxiety, making for a more positive and calm pregnancy experience.

Greater strength and flexibility

Prenatal yoga targets the muscles and joints that need to soften and strengthen during labor and childbirth. This can improve the endurance of your muscles during labor and give you a more comfortable experience.

Reduced pain

Yoga can help to reduce back pain, headaches, and the general aches and pains that accompany pregnancy.

Reduced shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is common in pregnancy due to increased hormones and pressure on your abdomen as your baby grows. Pranayama (or controlled breathing) guides you by taking deep breaths into your belly and lungs that can help you breathe more effectively while pregnant and during labor.

Support network

By attending prenatal yoga classes, you’ll meet other parents who can support you during your journey into motherhood.

Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

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When to Practice Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal is generally suitable for women from 12 weeks of pregnancy and over. However, this can differ between instructors, so always check with the studio before starting classes. As every pregnancy is different, you might also want to get the go-ahead from your healthcare provider before starting prenatal yoga classes.

Prenatal Yoga Poses

Prenatal yoga poses include:

Cat-cow

Cat-cow is a great way to relieve back pain during pregnancy.

Start on all fours with your knees below your hips and wrists below your shoulders. Take time to find a neutral position with a straight spine. Hug your baby towards your spine and then exhale to drop your belly slightly and gaze forward. As you inhale, round your spine, bringing your baby in towards you and looking down towards your mat. Repeat this for several rounds, moving with your breath.

Bridge pose

Bridge pose can help alleviate pressure and pain in the pelvis during pregnancy.

Start by laying on your back with your knees bent towards the sky and the soles of your feet planted on your mat – about one hand’s distance from your glutes. Lay your arms by your sides. From here, engage your glutes and hug your baby into your spine as you take an inhale. On an exhale, lift your hips to the sky as far as is comfortable. Slowly bring your body back down and repeat 2-3 times.

Bound angle pose

Bound angle pose or butterfly pose is great for opening the hips and relieving lower back pain during pregnancy.

Start in a comfortable seated position on your mat. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out on either side. Plant your tailbone into the ground and grow tall through the crown of your head. Bring your hands to cup your feet and breathe in this position.

Garland pose

Garland pose or Malasana can help improve the range of motion and strength in your hips, glutes, core, and pelvic floor, which can help to relieve discomfort during pregnancy. Malasana can also be a comfortable position to use during labor and childbirth.

Start in a standing position with your feet a little wider than hip-distance. Place a block or a cushion on the mat just behind your feet. Turn your toes out to about 45 degrees and bring your hands to a prayer position and your heart center. From here bend at your knees to sink your glutes towards the block or cushion. Sit on your block or cushion and let your elbows meet your knees.

Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

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How to Practice Prenatal Yoga

Once you’ve spoken to your healthcare provider, you can start practicing prenatal yoga at home or in a studio!

Why not get started with a couple of the poses outlined above or follow a YouTube video? We’ve shared a few of our favorites in the next section.

Start Prenatal Yoga at Home

Check out these follow-along videos if you can’t make it to a yoga studio or want to try prenatal yoga at home.

10 Minute Prenatal Yoga Video for Beginners

25 Minute Prenatal Yoga Workout

Prenatal Morning Yoga Routine

Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

Element: Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

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Prenatal Yoga FAQs

When Should You Start Doing Prenatal Yoga?

Generally, its recommended to wait until 12 weeks of pregnancy to start practicing prenatal yoga. This is because it’s common to suffer from dizziness and sickness during the first trimester, making your practice uncomfortable and even a little unsafe. However, a few gentle floor-based poses (that require no balancing) can be soothing during those first few weeks of pregnancy.

Always listen to your body and speak to your healthcare provider before starting.

Is Prenatal Yoga Good for Pregnancy?

Prenatal yoga can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and relieve the aches, pains, and discomfort that come with pregnancy. As well as improving your overall well-being, it’s a wonderful way to show your changing body some love and bond with your baby.

How Many Times a Week Should I Do Prenatal Yoga?

If you’re feeling good, you can practice prenatal yoga every day. However, 2-3 times per week should be enough. Listen to your body – if you want to sit and breathe for 10 minutes instead of committing to a 60-minute class, it will be just as beneficial.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying prenatal yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, or pain.

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