What If Prenatal Yoga is Not the Pace I Am Use To?
Yes there is a great chance that a Prenatal Yoga class is not going to be the type of class you are use to if you have an established practice already; but your body is also not what you are use to either. Your body is working 2-3 times harder than it has ever had to work before, so there is a good chance now that you might need to slow down and let it catch up. Further not every prenatal yoga flow is super slow and meditative, there are plenty of trained instructors that teach modified Vinyasa and Ashtanga flows for pregnant women.
There are a few key things, however to keep in mind when modifying a practice for pregnancy. If you practice hot Vinyasa or Bikrim, please stop. Pregnant women are advised to no long participate in anything with a temperature over about 80-85 degrees. There are a few reasons for this but I think the biggest is because of the risk of dehydration and over heating the baby. When pregnant you are already drinking at least 2-3 times more water than you would when not pregnant; therefore creating any environment that would require more seems a bit difficult. Further for however hot you are, or warming your body up to, your baby is feeling it even more. (I want to point out there is a lot of conflicting evidence on this point, and some say that hot yoga is okay during pregnancy. Personally I always err on the side of caution.)
If your practice is full of deep backbends, this might also be a place to stop and reconsider. With the body changing rapidly, particularly when the baby bump begins to show, doing any type of intense stretch along the front of the body can be very uncomfortable, as the skin is already pretty stretched. Smaller backbends through the front of the body can still have a great impact and relief without pushing past the point of comfort.
When it comes to a regular practice, many women that are worried are the ones whom have intense Vinyasa and Ashtanga practices. One of the biggest changes that will come is to stop laying on the stomach, and remove any superficial abdominal work (6 pack abs work). It is pretty obvious that we do not want to crush baby, so laying on the stomach is automatically out. This then nixes a lot of the transitions that happen in normal Vinyasa style classes – because now there are no more cobras, upward facing dogs, or Chaturanga Dandasanas. Further the muscles in the superficial abdominal are stretching to accommodate baby, if we continue to work them they could put pressure on baby, or create a tear in the ab muscles or a condition called diastasis recti (where the superficial abdominals are separated and cause a torpedo when contracted).
There are many other concerns that can come up when wondering about a Prenatal Yoga class being a different pace that one is use to, however the one last change I will mention will be the Ujjayi breath. Ujjayi breath is that delicious breath that all instructors encourage during class, the deep nostril breathing that creates that ocean like sound to help us stay in the present moment. However because this breath causes the body to heat up, we tend to avoid it during pregnancy and opt for a more comfortable breath that suits for you and your body. Over heating the body during pregnancy can be dangerous for both mama and baby, particularly if there is the possibility of high blood pressure or other complications.
Again if you are concerned that a prenatal class might be the wrong pace talk to your instructor. There will be key things that will have to change in your practice while pregnant, and slowing down might just be one of them. However if you feel like you really need a high energy class, there are plenty of trained prenatal instructors that offer high energy classes that are still designed to keep you and your baby safe.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤