Frequently Asked Questions


Prenatal 

Q. Is it safe to practice prenatal yoga during all stages of pregnancy?

A. Yes, prenatal yoga can be safely enjoyed throughout pregnancy.  Practice should include breath work, pelvic floor & core abdominal exercises, and visualizations to help the body and mind relax more deeply.  It is important to pay close attention to alignment throughout the trimesters and learn how to modify the poses to avoid straining or over-stretching.  Remember that every pregnancy is different, even for the same woman, so stay open to the changes that are happening daily.

Q.  Should I lay flat on my back in supine prenatal yoga postures?

A.  By the end of your 4th month of pregnancy, due to your growing baby and uterus, lying flat on your back could put excessive weight on the vena cava (a major vein).  This could potentially cut off blood flow to you and your baby, leaving you to feel dizzy before the baby is in any danger. This does not happen to everyone, but to be safe, place a blanket under your head and upper back at a five degree incline to keep your head above your heart. Also, the most optimal resting position is on your left side since this brings maximum blood flow to you and baby. This is why it is recommended to practice savasana on your left side and try to sleep on your left as best as possible.

Q. How does prenatal yoga support a woman in pregnancy?

A. Practicing yoga enhances and empowers a woman’s experience of pregnancy and birth on all levels — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Through the ever-unfolding gifts of yoga, the process of giving birth becomes not only an invitation to deepen one’s innermost connection to the Universe, but also a celebration of the profound, regenerative, and sacred power of being a woman.  As the physical practice strengthens and opens her body, a woman will also find her inner resolve and confidence grow.

Q. I’ve never been very flexible. Will my flexibility increase now during pregnancy?

A. Yes. Very early in pregnancy, levels of the hormone relaxin begin to increase, preparing the body to make space for baby to grow and eventually move down the birth canal. This increased amount of relaxin does create elasticity in the body, but it can also create the potential for overstretching in prenatal yoga, as well as in everyday activities. It is important to be mindful of your limitations and always utilize props and modifications in order to avoid “hanging” in a pose and/or overstretching. Remember, what you overstretch in pregnancy might not bounce back afterward, so it’s very important to be aware of your body and your boundaries.

Q. I am 10 weeks pregnant and have read that I should not practice inversions like handstand anymore. Is that accurate?

A. Inversions done briefly during pregnancy are not necessarily problematic if you already have an established inversion practice. Generally, second trimester is the most ideal, since the risk of miscarriage is much higher in first trimester and the baby is settling ‘down’ in position during third trimester. If you are newer to inversions, my advice is to wait until after baby arrives and your strength returns.

Postnatal

Q. How long should I wait after birth to return to postnatal yoga?

A.  If you were able to stay in good shape during your pregnancy and had a healthy vaginal delivery, you can usually begin light exercise (walking, gentle yoga) within a couple weeks of delivery.  Most doctors advise waiting until after the six week check-up before resuming a normal exercise routine.  For a c-section, you will usually be recommend to wait six to eight weeks to exercise, except light walking which is actually beneficial after a couple of weeks.  It is recommended to wait at least six weeks to start a postnatal yoga practice following a vaginal birth, and eight to twelve weeks following a cesarean (to let the incision heal).  Remember to go slowly- your joints and ligaments will still be loose for about three to five months after baby arrives, so keep any exercise low-impact and focus on toning and lightly stretching.

Q. What are key elements to focus on when returning to postnatal yoga?

A. You can immediately begin strengthening your pelvic floor muscles after birth by regularly practicing kegels. You can also connect to your transverse abdominals right away through belly breathing, focusing on drawing your belly backwards towards your spine on your exhalations.  Even post c-section, you should begin gentle belly breathing as soon as possible.  This will help increase circulation around the wound which promotes healing.

Q. How can I ease back into my home practice of yoga after baby arrives?

A. Try a few familiar poses that you’ve done while pregnant. The most important thing to remember is to keep your transverse abdominals engaged, particularly during transitions.  Start with simple ujjayi breathing and warm-up poses, such as a tadasana and uttanasana, in order to gain awareness of your body’s strength and to what extent you are able to move and support yourself with good alignment. Then you can begin to add poses that specifically build strength, such as wall squats and downward facing dog.

Q. What is the benefit of attending a postnatal yoga class, as opposed to simply practicing at home?

A. Postnatal classes and mommy and me classes are great first classes to return to, since they are on the gentler side, and can be reassuring.  Bringing baby to class is a wonderful solution to being able to practice and stay together.  New mothers can also connect with each other and share questions and experiences.

Q. There are no postnatal yoga classes offered near me. What classes should I take?

A. If there are no specialty classes available for postnatal or mommy and me yoga, try a beginner yoga class and let the instructor know that you are a new mom.