Paula’s Blog: How Yoga Helped me Through My Pregnancy
As a pretty seasoned yogi, I had a few expectations of myself in relation to yoga and my pregnancy. When I first fell pregnant, I searched for a bunch of information about ‘prenatal yoga’ and ended up doing some PreNatal teacher training – to check the ‘safety’ situation and learn as much as I could. I learnt that while there are some definite pre-cautions you should take, the biggest thing that was more important than anything else was that you needed to listen to your body and just do what feels right. For most of my pregnancy I was feeling pretty good, so for me, that translated into ‘do yoga as normal’ (at least at first) and see what happens.
I realized pretty quickly in pregnancy, that not much is in your control. Sure you can control what you eat, and how healthy you choose to keep yourself, but you can’t control the morning sickness, the fatigue, the expanding waist line and so I pretty quickly had to accept that this was a one-day-at-a time kind of thing, and the same applied to how much yoga I could do. Sure, I felt really good when my energy was up and I could easily do a normal yoga class, but I had to learn to allow myself to feel just as good and accept that when I felt fatigued, it was OK to choose to sleep or do Yin rather than push myself beyond what was my limit or that day.
I kept practicing, pretty regularly, up to about 37 weeks pregnant, although of course the type of yoga changed. I slowed down significantly in my Vinyasa Flow, dropped back to beginner levels in many positions, and stopped doing most positions that required strong core engagement and did heaps of modifications in Yin to make sure I wasn’t twisting or spending too much time laying on my back. Although I’m a teacher and I have been practicing yoga for over 12 years, I still get nervous and self conscious in class (yes, I still unfortunately haven’t learnt to leave my ego at the door!) but I think I really grew as a person and as a yogi, as I practiced in class with others, making my modifications, overriding my mind which ‘wondered what other people were thinking’ and had to work a bit harder at ‘going inside myself’ in my practice. In fact, I practiced a lot with my eyes closed, to help myself go inside, and truly listen and check in with my body.
And throughout those 10 months and 1 week (yep – Max took his time joining us!) Yoga helped to calm my mind on those days I felt scared and jittery about the future. The years of practice helped me to breathe on those days when I felt anxious (not to mention the big day of his arrival). Yoga helped me to let go of being in control, to accept that what will be will be, and to calmly trust in whatever was happening. Yoga helped my body feel strong and flexible throughout the pregnancy, even on those days when I wasn’t strong or flexible at all. The familiarity of Yoga helped me start to recover after birth, when the Physio visited me in hospital and talked me through stretches to get myself moving again. (They were familiar yoga positions and breathing techniques, when everything else was so damn new, unfamiliar and scary.)
And when I first sat down to write this – 1 month on, with (only!) two x 30 minute gentle yoga-at-home sessions squeezed in, Yoga started to again help me to ease my tight hamstrings, glutes, the tight back and shoulders from extensive sitting and feeding. The regular focus on ‘going inside myself’ I worked on through my PregnantYoga time helped me to quickly get centred, and what I noticed the most was that I was able to squeeze so much more out of those 2 x 30 minutes than my usual 60 minute or so class…
The day I started to write this (back in July!) I wrote that I was feeling chilled (chilled enough to write this!) “but who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow!”
It’s now October and somehow the last 3 months have flown by without me posting this blog on the website! 3 months later and I’m practicing yoga again regularly (my ‘new’ regular is 1-2 times a week), working on re-building my core and finding a routine that works around Max. I’m not sure how chilled I feel today, but I’m learning to go with the flow of Max and be ‘in’ as many moments as I can with him while balancing the need to look after him with looking after myself and squeezing in a bit of me time. I regularly grab 10-15 minutes to jump on my mat and do ‘whatever comes’ first to my mind. Sometimes that’s just laying down over a bolster, sometimes that a Down-Dog.
This week I tried my first Mums and Bubs yoga class – once as a participant and once teaching my Mothers Group. It was awesome. Max was awesome. He smiled and kicked his legs most of the time while I jumped around the mat above him.
So, as a first time mum, do I recommend people do yoga through pregnancy? HELL YES. Absolutely! Safely, slowly and with absolute focus and attention on your individual body, your individual feelings and energy on that day and each and every day you visit the mat.
Find the time, take the time, and just breathe.. and let the benefits flow.
We’ve had a lot of enquiries about PRENATAL YOGA at Yoga Everyday – If you are pregnant and want to know more, we have a handout in the studio which will give you some tips on practicing while you are pregnant. You are also welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat or Private Lessons. Paula is a pre and post-natal trained yoga teacher.
When you come into the studio for a class please let the teacher know you are pregnant so they can help guide and support you in class!