They say it never rains but it pours, and I swear, right now, everyone I know is getting pregnant. My Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of pregnancy and baby announcements and cute bump photos.
I love it—it even makes me nostalgic for being pregnant <--never thought I'd put that in writing—and also makes me think back about my own experiences as a first-time pregnant person and trying to navigate fitness and my constantly changing body.
I went to pretty much every prenatal yoga class I could find, mostly to meet other expecting mamas and also to see how those classes differed from the vinyasa flow and power classes that had come to dominate my practice.
I found a ton of variety across prenatal classes, and quickly learned what worked for me ... and what didn't.
So: for all you new mamas out there, I wanted to offer my lessons learned about experimenting with prenatal yoga. As with everything related to pregnancy, babies, and parenting, there's no one right answer; it's all about finding what works for you and your baby.
Before we begin: I am not a healthcare professional! This is all based on my own experiences and please don't do anything without your doctor's green light and if it doesn't feel right in your body.
It's not really about the yoga
If you have a regular practice, it's best to go in to a prenatal class without expectations of feeling like a "real" yoga class, for many reasons. Many of the women in them are there more to meet people than anything else (myself included!). And the practice will likely be a very accessible one, open to people at all stages in their pregnancy and to all levels of yoga experience (or zero yoga experience). Uplevel as you need or want to, or just go in knowing that you probably won't get your practice fix.
There might be a lot of talking about your feelings
Most classes will start with group intros, which, for meeting people, is awesome. You'll learn all about everyone else's emotional state and round ligament pain and latest ultrasounds: intimate information about strangers. It's a fantastic way to feel normal and validated, especially if it's your first pregnancy and everything is new and strange.
Connect, connect, connect
Mom friends will be your lifesavers down the road. You NEED a community of fellow new parents to feel sane once that baby arrives. These classes are ideal for starting to build that community. Make a point of connecting with someone at each class. I even had one teacher who forced us to exchange phone numbers with at least one new person at each class. It sounds hokey, but everyone loved it, and some of those women are still friends, two years later.
If you aren't feeling it...
Don't do it. You're pregnant. You've got to save that precious time and energy for everything else, like putting on your shoes and making your partner go get you ice cream.
Don't give up on your regular classes
If you want to keep practicing in your regular classes, DO IT. (Of course, if it feels okay and your doctor says it's fine and etc). I rotated in prenatal classes along with my standard vinyasa classes up until 8 months (when my midwife put the kibosh on inversions), and the combination of sweaty flow + community building with parents-to-be was a perfect combination.
Get maternity yoga pants
They're amazing. The end.
Those are my main takeaways from my experiments with prenatal yoga; I'd love to hear what your experiences were like.
If you're in Portland OR, we're offering an amazing prenatal class at Flex & Flow, as well as a Mama & Baby Flow. And a host of 'regular' classes as well. We'd love to see your bump and your baby on the mat!
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