1) Listen to your body and be comfortable
Make sure you feel comfortable in all the poses and during breathing or meditation. Adjust to use more blocks and talk to the teacher about how to make it comfortable if it isn't. Perhaps lie on your side rather than on your back as your bump gets bigger (should be fine up to about 30 weeks but see how it makes you feel) and encourage yourself to take easier alternatives that are offered, especially during your third trimester.
2) Take it easy
If you are a beginner, then this will be easier for you, but if you are an experienced practitioner, you'll need to really focus on doing less than you are used to and practicing slightly differently. You want to stay strong and supple during your pregnancy to avoid common aches and pains, but be careful to avoid over stretching (see below) or straining.
3) Make space for your baby
Stand with the feet wider than your hips and be careful not to squash your bump or feel any pulling in the abdominal area. Forward bends are still wonderful to practice as long as you keep the legs wide, bend the knees and go as far as feels right for you. Avoid deep twists in the abdomen, keep any twisting lighter and 'above the bra strap' so your shoulders are twisting comfortably, but not your belly. Consider twisting in the opposite direction so the twist is more open in the belly area. Don't push yourself into anything.
4) Start any time after 13 weeks
The sooner you start, the more benefit you will gain and any time from 14 weeks is a safe time to join in. And you can continue all the way through as long as you feel good and keep enjoying the practice.
5) Keep your spine lengthened
Keeping your back in great shape will help support you all the way through your pregnancy. Focus on keeping your spine lengthened in asana and use your 'chin lock' (jalandara bandha) to help keep your spine and back of the neck long.
6) Be careful of over stretching
Your body is producing a hormone called Relaxin during your pregnancy which makes you more flexible. You might find you can stretch further than usual, but don't be tempted to take advantage of this extra stretch. Your tendons and ligaments won't thank you later if you stretch too far. Don't stretch 100% in anything, hold back a little and be cautious.
7) Engage your pelvic floor
Great to tone this area in advance of your labour. On the exhale, think about lifting and engaging your pelvic floor.
8) Avoid straining the abdomen
If doing leg lifting, only lift one leg at a time, not both, and be aware of the extra strain the abdominals are under and that they need to be more protected during this time. Talk to your teacher if your not sure.
9) Choose your class carefully
Your yoga teacher should have specialist pregnancy training, but you don't need a specialist pregnancy class unless you want one. (The British Wheel of Yoga offer a good standard of accreditation for pregnancy yoga training).
A good class should be small enough so that the teacher can adjust the poses to ensure they are suitable as your body will change through each week of your pregnancy.
The class can either be a general class that will adjust the poses for you, or a specialist pregnancy class, whichever you prefer.
If your tired, consider a daytime yoga practice when you have more energy.
10) Enjoy the class
Yoga practice should feel enjoyable and leave you feeling energised, relaxed and calm. You can keep it up as long as it feels good and doesn't leave you feeling over tired. Enjoy...
See more on yoga classes during pregnancy here.
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With the start of the new women's class at YogaSpace it seemed worth exploring why yoga might benefit from being different for men and women. Especially as most classes are mixed and this usually works really well.
Of course there are some fundamental differences in mens and womens bodies but does it mean that a different class is appropriate?
The answer is of course yes AND no. In an ideal world, we would each have a customised yoga practice taylored to our own bodies, energy and how we feel on any particular day, so a class of 1 would be the most beneficial. But in the practical world, a group class has a lot to offer. Plus its actually rather nice being in a room with others trying to explore the same postures.
In general terms, men are physically stronger than women but typically are stiffer. This of course isn't always the case and there are plenty of strong women and stiff women in the world! Practice of yoga postures helps both body types as each yoga posture will help increase mobility and strength, they would simply be approached differently depending on your body type.
Women do have some physical differences that are unique to them however. They might be pregnant or recovering after pregnancy, they might be menstruating or have hormonal cycles, and they are a different body shape. There is a nurturing approach to yoga which is more appropriate in these situations that while relevant to men aswell, their issues may be different or be related to different cycles.
So this new women's yoga class is a more gentle class, respecting the differences women's bodies might be experiencing, and allowing a space to explore yoga that is more taylored to a woman's body. Of course a men's class would be great to start aswell.
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Chelsea footballers are partial to a bedtime yoga practice to help sleep according to a BBC Radio 4 interview on Women's hour today. To help sleep and aid relaxation, some players have been advised to lie with their legs up the wall, bottom close to the wall, lying on their back, for a few minutes before bed.
Raising the legs above the heart in an inverted position like this is supposed to calm the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing and settling the system to aid relaxation and sleep. It is a restful position (if you find it comfortable and have strong enough legs and back to hold it comfortably for several minutes). Variations of this posture are suggested if you can't relax in this pose.
According the the sleep specialist , it is common to wake up 10-15 times a night anyway, a throw back to when we lived in caves and had to check that all was well with the world and we were not in danger. Women in late-stage pregnancy and new mums will typically wake up twice as much as this, more self-preservation and baby protection taking place it is assumed.
Top tips to improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep included:
- Incorporating a gentle, restful yoga sequence or meditation before bed
- Not keeping a clock in the room that is visible to you, and don't check the time if you do wake up, just try to go back to sleep
- Keep the room slightly cooler than the rest of the house
- Prepare for sleep well, write down and 'to-do's' before getting into bed so you don't worry about them in the night.
Hope this helps!