Our beloved Emma is having a baby at the end of August, 2018! We asked her to tell us about her experiences with yoga while pregnant.
I have been practicing yoga for about 12 years. Just like in life I have constantly been working through the many ups and downs of my personal practice, pursuing challenging postures, and also learning to back off in certain poses to better allow myself to maintain proper body alignment versus going deeper into the Asana. Just as I was feeling like I had come pretty far in my practice, I got pregnant humbly welcoming me back to the beginning and to a whole new way of yoga.
Yoga, especially the hot yoga classes here at MYS have been my place of allowance and transformation. Stumbling into this new chapter in my life I was unaware of how my practice would be affected, and I was fearful I’d have to give up my hot practice for the whole pregnancy. Like every newly paranoid mama to-be, I started googling “is hot yoga safe during pregnancy?” and “what types of poses can I still do in my first trimester?” I also consulted the mama goddesses of the studio: Jackie Wheeler, Brooke Schneider, Jen Folkman, and Joi Straaten to find out if they had hot practices and what their practices were like during their pregnancies. With each answer came the same result, “just listen to your body and do what’s right for you”. Solid advice! But I was still looking for someone to be specific, I was looking for “yes it’s safe in the hot room your baby will be safe, healthy and perfect.” Of course, that wasn’t necessarily the answer I got. As you may or may not know, no one can guarantee that any exercise is right for you and you will receive so many conflicting answers and opinions about what has or hasn’t worked for someone else.
So truly listening to YOUR body and learning the modifications is the best thing you can do because correctly modified yoga is 100% safe during pregnancy (as approved by your Health Care Professional).
So can you practice hot yoga during pregnancy? YES! If you have had a hot practice before you became pregnant then hot yoga is still an option for you. It is not recommended to start a hot practice during pregnancy if you did not previously have one. Luckily MYS also has non-heated classes that are perfectly safe to attend whether or not you have even had a previous yoga practice- the key here is to modify!
As for myself, I decided to skip hot yoga during my first trimester and spend the time researching the safety and modifications of various postures. I attempted to find prenatal classes during my first trimester thinking that I would learn it all and that these were truly the only “safe” options, however I still wasn’t finding what I was looking for. I began dedicating more time to a prenatal home practice and I even attended a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in California just to make sure I was getting all the right information.
Coming into my second trimester, after loads of personal research and approval from my midwife, I made the choice to get back into the hot room. I was so pumped to go back, and I felt confident knowing exactly what I could and could not do and what signs to look for. I finally had background reasoning as to why certain postures were not okay, and even better that most of them were safe! It was empowering. Though each class I attend is different based on how I’m feeling that day there are a few ideas I stick to now. I now know that I must hydrate before, during, and after any and all exercise heated or not. That it is OK to feel a stretch in your belly during cow, and coming up from a forward fold, whether in a heated or non-heated class, the chances of me getting dizzy are a lot higher, so taking it super slow and supported is the way to go. I know I am not supposed to do deep back bends or twists and to keep my legs at a wider stance in most postures for better balance. Getting light-headed, short of breath, dizzy or nauseous are all signs to back off, lay down or get out. That laying on my back for an extended period of time is out, it’s all about the left side fetal position in Savasana. And I’m saying so long to boat pose! I sure don’t miss yah!
Having the knowledge about what is safe calmed my mind and changed my practice, it gave me the confidence to make all the modifications that were right for my body and feel the limits within myself. I encourage any of you pregnant mamas to continue your journey through yoga at a pace that is suitable for you. Please ask questions and let your instructor know you’re pregnant. If you feel so inclined take some time to watch some YouTube videos and learn some prenatal variations so that in class you feel confident to do some completely different poses when the class is in a posture that is not right for you so that you’re not just sitting there feeling left out.
And remember mamas, always listen to your bodies and do what is right for you.