I'm a wife, yoga teacher but a mum first. I practiced yoga throughout both my pregnancies (although to a lesser degree with the first). Here's what I know, from my own experiences, about how a pregnancy yoga practice can help YOU.
1. HELPS WITH MANAGING YOUR EMOTIONS
In pregnancy, emotions are haywire, particularly in the first trimester but there are ups and downs throughout, it’s a rollercoaster. In my first pregnancy (when I didn’t have a daily yoga practice) I had a hard time coping with these – floods of tears and dramatic outbursts at times. The second pregnancy was different, those weird dramatic mood swings weren’t there. I was in a new country (alone while my husband worked away), with a small child and cooking up another one and yet after my practice I felt level and together and more able to deal with things. There was a calmness and lightness that came over me that I hadn’t had before and above all a sense of joy, all of which helped massively, especially when I had tricky times.
2. IT CREATES A CONNECTED RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR BABY (yes even when they're still in there!)
When you’re busy like most of us, there are times within your pregnancy that you can forget you're actually pregnant. So sometimes it's important to take time out to focus on that. The practice meant I started to build a relationship with my son while he was still in my belly. I took time to really focus on him and send him love. We communicated. I believe we’re extra connected now as a result. Oh I should also add I felt this connection to others around me, my daughter, my husband. I also see this connection happening with my students that I teach at my classes at The Well Woman Centre. I see how connected to others in the class they become in a very short space of time.
3. MORE MOVEMENT/ STRENGTH
All being well, pregnancy can be a time to WORK, especially in the 2nd Trimester! It's really helpful to build strength in your legs and bum, find more movement in your hips and pelvis, tone your pelvic floor and generally get your body working. It creates a strong basis for you and your baby for the birth and beyond. During my pregnancies I was lucky that I had minimal discomfort (only sometimes when I was sleeping) and I put a lot of this down to my yoga practice. My legs and my whole body felt strong and so I was agile and active, riding my bike, swimming in the sea and best of all this continued right up until about 38 weeks of my pregnancy. I didn’t waddle, I didn’t feel exhausted, I felt like me right up until the end.
4. MORE SPACE IN YOUR BELLY
This is such a big deal, especially when you are in the latter stages of pregnancy and your baby is pushing against your diaphragm (making you breathless), your stomach (causing heartburn) and your bladder (you need to wee all the time). Whenever I practiced I would be amazed at the change in my bump, how it softened, carried differently and most importantly gave me and my baby a feeling of space (and lightness). Wonderful! I see this in my students too, a physical change which gives them a brighter look behind the eyes.
5. POST NATAL RECOVERY
Putting the practice in when your pregnant is massively helpful to regaining 'you' once you've had your baby. Obviously you then need a post natal yoga practice too but if your body has a learned knowledge (a muscle memory) of the movements you can spring back much quicker. Keep your body strong and your pelvic floor elastic throughout pregnancy, it will serve you well. My body is back, if not improved upon, to where it was before I had kids, I’m firmer generally all over. I’m slightly rounder in my buttocks/ belly/ hips (but I see that at as bonus – more feminine) and I have no stretch marks from either of pregnancies. I’m active but have done no other specific sports other than the practice so this is all down to that. Pelvic floor wise I still have some work to go until I feel my pelvic floor is the same as it was pre kids – perhaps it will never be- but there has been no issues and I’m still working on it. I feel like I’m strong from the inside out though.