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Yoga prepares the body and mind for childbirth.

Through conscious movement and breath, expecting mothers can build the physical and mental resilience to prepare for stressors that arise during pregnancy. 

If you have a regular yoga practice and are familiar with the postures, the Prenatal Yoga Collection on the Practice with Clara apps provides supportive practices for trimesters 1-4. 

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga: 

  • Build muscular strength to support your body as it transforms.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Lessen low back and joint pain.
  • Reduce nausea and headaches. 
  • Deregulate the nervous system to get better rest and sleep. 
 

It is advisable for those new to yoga to consult a physician before taking up any new physical activities, as your body is already going through so much change. 

A Gift for the Mothers, Lovers, Friends—

The 5-Class Bloom Prenatal Yoga Series!

LIFETIME ACCESS for $35 USD

ABOUT THE BLOOM PRENATAL YOGA SERIES

Five yoga classes are designed for yoginis of all levels; these classes offer modifications to support you through trimesters 1-3. 

Take a look at our Prenatal Resource Page for more information on Prenatal Yoga with Clara Roberts-Oss. 

What you receive:

  • 1 vinyasa yoga class 

  • 2 hatha yoga classes

  • 2 yin yoga classes 

Table of Contents:

Prenatal Yoga Considerations

With a question from an expecing yogini.

: I am pregnant with my first child (just seven weeks).

My yoga teachers have given me conflicting information – one says since I have a 10-year practice, I can keep up my regular vinyasa practice in my 1st and 2nd trimesters (except for lying on my tummy in the 2nd).

The other says I should immediately refrain from forward folding and twisting.

Now I’m confused, and I trust your experience and knowledge. I’d appreciate your advice if you have some!

Clara’s Answer

The response was composed in 2019 when Clara was pregnant. 

There’s a ton of conflicting information around pregnancy, not only in yoga but with fitness in general.

I’ll say that I am not a doctor, so I’m just giving you another opinion to think about. Physiotherapists are great people to ask if you’re unsure or want an educated answer. 

I’m a prenatal and postnatal certified yoga teacher, and I’m almost five months pregnant with my first babe. 

I’ll just share with you what I’ve learned and intuited.

In my prenatal training with my teacher, Shiva Rea, she stressed being gentle in the first trimester as this is when miscarriage is more likely to happen. She encouraged newly pregnant Goddesses to take it slow and listen to their own bodies about what felt right/good and what didn’t.

Especially if you’ve been a long-time practitioner, your body will let you know if the pose/transition is working or not working. 

Midwives I’ve spoken to say that you can continue doing what you’ve been doing throughout your pregnancy, especially in the first two trimesters. The key is not introducing something very intense into your workout/practice that you were NOT doing before becoming pregnant. You don’t have the muscle memory or understanding of how the move works with a “regular” body. 

Your body will let you know when it longer works for you to lie on your belly. It felt terrible in my body during the first trimester, but early in the second trimester and tail end of my first trimester, it felt totally fine. Now it’s not working as my belly is bigger than my boobs.

The general rule of thumb is not to twist or backbend too deeply when pregnant. It’s not recommended to over-stretch your abdomen since you’ve got a little bean in there.

Now that being said, I’ve known quite a few yoginis who did full wheel throughout their pregnancy. So, what I always recommend around that is really listen to your own body. What can happen, especially for those who have been practicing a long time, is that our ego can step in and say, “we can do this!”

Before You Take a Prenatal Yoga Class:

Ask yourself, why am I doing this pose?

Does this pose serve the two of us? 

I’ve been airing on the side of caution in my own practice and really taking my time. I haven’t been doing deep backbends; instead of focusing on opening my chest, I’ll be getting my back body strong to prepare for the weight I’ll be carrying in the front body as my baby gets bigger. 

My mantra has been, “This pregnant body is temporary, and I have my whole life to do all the things.” Why not chill a bit? 

With twists:

Do open twists, so there’s space for your babe. Be mindful of where you feel the stretch. If you feel a “tug” deep in your belly, maybe take it down a notch. 

Shiva recommended taking out inversions in the first trimester because it’s a precarious time.

You can bring it back in your second trimester if you have an inversion practice. It’s recommended to do them against the wall, so there’s no fear of flipping over into full wheel. I’ve known some women who love inversions during pregnancy and others who did not. Feel it out for yourself.

A great rule of thumb:

When you’re about to do a big movement, engage your pelvic floor and TA (transverse abdominals) first to stabilize your pelvis.

 I’ve never heard anything about pregnancy being a contraindication of forward folds. The only thing I would say about that is to make space between your legs for your belly as you fold.

There are quite a few schools of thought that you should not twist, invert, do core work, or backbend throughout your pregnancy. They are airing on the side of caution, which I recommend to women who come to yoga for the first time when pregnant. Again, rule of thumb, pregnancy is NOT a time to introduce new intense forms of movement.

The other thing to think about is that you have a ton of relaxin flowing through your body which makes the space around your joints a bit more loosey-goosey so just be mindful of “over-stretching.”

I’ve been really working on hugging in as I “stretch” to keep the insertion points of my muscles safe.

My last piece of advice:

Take a deep breath, trust that ahhhmazing body of yours and know that you know. 

prenatal yoga

Modifications for Pregnancy

Check out the 20-minute video on how to modify when pregnant in a vinyasa yoga class. 

Prenatal Yoga Classes for Each Trimester

Trimester 1: Slow It Down

Yoga for the pregnant goddess in the first trimester.

The first series of the prenatal yoga collection features six classes. Hatha, Slow Flow, Restorative, and Meditation courses will help you slow down while maintaining a movement practice.

As your body adjusts to the flux of hormones and the baby growing inside of you, this is a crucial time. The fetus is attaching to the uterus, so you need to be very careful and mindful when moving, especially if you’re new to vinyasa yoga.

General Rules:

  • No Inversions
  • No or minimal core
  • No deep backbends
The classes in this series include:
  1.  Be Gentle Restorative Yoga
  2. Simple Flow Vinyasa Yoga
  3. Rest with Ease Yin Yoga
  4. Get Wide Yin Yoga
  5. To the Moon Vinyasa Yoga
  6. Yoga Nidra Meditation.

Trimester 2: Take It Up

Yoga for the pregnant goddess in the second trimester.

The second series of the prenatal yoga collection features six classes. The second-trimester classes offer more flow if you feel like you can handle more movement and vigour in your body. 

I felt more adjusted and at home in my body in this trimester. I revisited more movement and dynamic poses that I had to avoid in my first trimester. Mothers usually feel a lot better in this trimester. If you’re feeling up to it, keep moving. If not, stay at the level and pace you feel comfortable.

General Rules: 

  • Inversions are OK if you had an inversion practice beforehand.
  • Backbending is OK. 
  • Small core exercises are OK.
The classes in this series include:
  1.  Grace You Move Me Vinyasa Yoga.
  2. Restore Us Both Restorative Yoga.
  3. The Ability to Sustain Vinyasa Yoga.
  4. Go With the Flow Vinyasa Yoga.
  5. Strong Back Vinyasa Yoga.
  6. Mudra Meditation.

Trimester 3: Get Strong

Yoga classes for the pregnant goddess in the third trimester.

The third series of the prenatal yoga collection features seven classes. This is the time to get strong in both body and mind. The courses in this series feature breathwork and simple poses to create strength and space to prepare you for childbirth.

Please rest when you need it; in my pregnancy, each day felt so different from the day before, so honour your body and where you are. 

No more vinyasas; instead, take cat/cows or camel pose. Don’t lie on your back at this point, as it puts too much weight on the sacral area.

General Rules:

  • Inversions are not recommended. 
  • Minimal core exercises.
  • Backbending is OK; I would recommend a camel pose or bridge pose. 
The classes in this series include:
  1. Create Calm Vinyasa Yoga.
  2. A Moment to Myself VinyasaYoga.
  3. In My Own Ocean Hatha Yoga.
  4. Put It In Park Restorative Yoga.
  5. Listen Hatha Yoga. 
  6. Compassion Meditation.

Trimester 4: Recover

Yoga classes for the pregnant goddess in the fourth trimester.

The fourth series of the prenatal yoga collection features five classes, and you can choose from any of the classes on the app to reconnect to your body.

The postnatal trimester is meant to help you ease back into the practice. The postnatal series could be geared towards those who have just given birth or anyone who wants a slower class. 

Postnatal yoga builds strength in the core and pelvic floor and creates space in the shoulders and upper back. The idea is to strengthen the muscles strained in childbirth and relieve any tension in the arms and back from holding and feeding your baby. 

General Rules:

  • A focus on rebuilding the core and pelvic floor.
  • A focus on upper back and shoulder strengthening.
The classes in this series include:
  1. Acceptance Vinyasa Yoga.
  2.  Stay Low Hatha Yoga.
  3. Space Through Strength Vinyasa Yoga.
  4. River of Prana Meditation.
  5. Ganesha Meditation.