Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga

“There is always room for change, but you have to be open to that change."

 - Kathryn Budig - 

Strength, Space & Confidence

When a woman becomes pregnant, literally every system in her body changes. If that isn’t enough, there are many emotions that surface as she prepares for her new role as a mother. Prenatal yoga is designed to make space in the body, make space in the mind and prepare you for the journey through pregnancy, delivery and motherhood.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

  • Builds strength and confidence

  • Increases energy

  • Aids in focus and clarity

  • Reduces stress & promotes relaxation

  • Reduces (and may eliminate) pregnancy discomforts

  • Promotes circulation, posture, and digestion

  • Offers and establishes self-care routines for pregnancy and beyond

How is Prenatal Yoga Different?
Prenatal classes are specifically designed to support pregnant women and their changing physical and emotional needs.

  • Postures are modified for your changing body and center of gravity

  • Classes are targeted to the parts of the body that need to be opened and strengthened for pregnancy, labor, delivery and beyond.

  • Pregnant bodies need special care due to the softening of the ligaments, tendons and connective tissues and have a tendency to be hypermobile. (Hypermobility can leave you more prone to loose, unstable joints therefore more susceptible to injury.) We choose postures carefully and encourage our mamas to not go to their maximum in any pose.

  • Registered Prenatal Yoga Teachers (RPYT) are specially trained not only with respect to asana (the physical practice of yoga) but have studied the anatomical, physiological and psychological aspects of pregnancy. They have the ability to support pregnant women in a way that many instructors cannot. Registered Prenatal Yoga Teachers have been trained to teach the postures and breathing exercises so they best support expecting mothers.

When should I start?
The answer is – it’s up to you (and your body)!
As a regular practitioner before pregnancy, you may feel great in your regular class well into your second trimester. Talk to your instructor (even if you haven’t told anyone else…) and make sure they are educated on modifications and alternate postures contraindicated for pregnancy.

If you are new to yoga, we would recommend starting with a specific Prenatal class. (Always check with your healthcare provider first.) Depending on your overall health and energy level, you can start in your first trimester. Many mamas join in their second trimester if the first was a little rough. Always listen to your body – you are creating a tiny human! That takes strength, stamina and lots of rest.

Recover, Rebuild & Reconnect

Just like during pregnancy, your postnatal body needs extra love and attention. The last 40 (or more) weeks have been a huge journey and now you have an infant to take care of as well as yourself! Although this can feel overwhelming at times, your yoga practice can step in to give you a sanctuary. There are a number of things that may be affecting your body right now – weakened pelvic floor from pushing in labor, aching neck and shoulders from feeding, carrying and holding your babe, your abdominals may feel like they have been on maternity leave since your first trimester and you still need to recover fully from labor and delivery. (Some experts have likened labor and delivery to running a marathon!)

Benefits of Postnatal Yoga

  • Restores the nervous system after stress of pregnancy, labor and delivery

  • Builds stamina and strength through a gentle rebuilding of the pelvic floor, deep abdominals and spinal muscles

  • Promotes relaxation and hormonal balance

  • Minimizes the effects on your posture and spine from holding and feeding your baby

  • Expands breathing and helps engage the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response)

  • Helps reduce anxiety and depression

  • Establishes a routine of self-care routine by reclaiming your body, nurturing yourself and creating a community of other moms in a similar stage of transition

How is Postnatal Yoga Different?
Postnatal yoga is uniquely suited for the postnatal body recovering from pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the demands of transitioning to motherhood.

  • Focuses on and teaches breath work to increase energy, aid in processing strong emotions and engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • Includes pelvic floor and deep abdominal strengthening

  • Emphasizes gentle opening of the chest and shoulders

  • Offers postures (asana) appropriate for the postpartum body

  • Relaxin is still in the body and can still cause hyper mobility, joint instability and corresponding tight muscles trying to create stability (up to four months after you finish breastfeeding)

  • Diastasis can still develop postpartum (NO CRUNCHES)

  • Establishes a support network of other moms (your prenatal teacher can also be an excellent source for information and local resources)

  • Builds a bond with your baby while committing time to get to know and nourish your postpartum body

When should I start?
You are encouraged to begin with rest for at least 4-6 weeks. After your 6 week check up with your healthcare provider, they will usually give you the go-ahead to exercise. (This is really important — they assess your postpartum healing and make sure everything is on track.) We encourage mamas to rest and start with breathing and light walks until the 6 week mark for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a cesarean birth. It is also important that the lochia flow has stopped. (This postpartum blood flow may start up again if you do too much too soon, so please pay attention to your body!)

Start Slow

  • Take a walk with baby! If weather permits, get outside – the fresh air is usually great for both of you

  • Don’t go too far or too fast

  • Build strength and stamina slowly and don’t overexert yourself. You didn’t get to this point overnight…

  • Honor what you have been through. Pregnancy, labor, delivery and caring for a newborn is a HUGE journey and has been compared to running a marathon.

Start with some even inhale and exhale breathing. Pranayama engages the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response) and can facilitate an environment  where the body can heal itself much quicker. Once you have found a comfortable breath rhythm, you can begin to connect the breath to your pelvic floor and deep abdominals. Inhale, release, exhale, gently engage your pelvic floor and bring your navel in toward your spine. The beauty of breathing — it is a tool that is always with you. You can do your breath work while breastfeeding, lying in bed, or rocking your little one to sleep.

MOST IMPORTANTLY — pay attention to the sensations your body offers! You know your body better than anyone and it will tell you what it needs if you are willing to listen.