PREGNANCY YOGA - where is Level 1-2-3?
You may have been pregnant yourself; or if you haven’t, you surely know someone who has. You’ll know that worries, feelings and concerns when you’re growing a baby can change enormously as your body changes over those nine months from conception to due date. Battling with morning sickness in the earlier stages of pregnancy is a whole different ball game to preparing for birth.
So why, when it comes to pregnancy yoga - one of the most effective tools available to support your journey to motherhood - most studio classes don’t take this vast difference into account? We fully expect to see normal yoga segmented according to level on a studio timetable as Vinyasa Flow Level 2-3, Ashtanga Level 1 or Yoga for Beginners, for example. So why is pregnancy yoga always simply scheduled as ‘Pregnancy Yoga’?
The answer lies in the fact that studio pregnancy yoga - even classes given by the most inspiring and experienced teachers - have to cater to the average pregnant woman. But is it really possible to find an average between a woman who is emerging from morning sickness at 14 weeks with a body still pretty much in a normal shape, good energy levels and a desire to get moving again and a woman about to give birth, who is looking inwards, feeling and connecting with her baby and preparing for labour? I don’t think there’s such a thing. Based on my personal experience, and that of other women I know, I believe there is nothing more disappointing than coming to a general pregnancy class (and getting to a studio is not always easy, especially towards the end of pregnancy) and having a class that neither answers your questions nor caters to your specific needs.
I believe it’s vitally important to be able to adjust your practice to your ever-changing mind and growing body. Why? Let’s look at the three key stages women go through in pregnancy when it comes to their yoga practice (medical professionals generally advise avoiding yoga before 12 to 14 weeks, unless you are an experienced yogi – and but most likely you may not feel like it anyway!).
Stage 1: 14 – 22 weeks
At 14 weeks, nausea usually subsides and energy levels return. You can feel more energetic than ever before and although your body gradually starts changing, you are probably keen to move. A relatively dynamic flow practice for the next six to eight weeks will allow you to embrace the return of your energy. You may not notice a huge difference in your body shape, but certain modifications are needed to accommodate the growing baby.
Stage2: 22 – 32 weeks
You begin to feel a little heavier. You can still do a flow class, but in much more mindful and slower mode. In your practice, you’ll need to be more observant and not push yourself while stretching, twisting and back bending. The focus is on key areas such as shoulders, back and pelvic region. Poses are modified to take into account your growing belly and you’ll start using props to support certain poses.
Stage 3: 32 weeks onwards
Preparing for birth, both mentally and physically is the key at this time with a grounded, slow flow and focus inwards. Deep, nurturing breathing, tension releasing movements and mind-calming meditation help you prepare for the birth. Although you can (and should, if you have no medical issues) still move at this stage, setting intentions, sending love and devotion to your baby, visualising the new life inside you and learning to keep calm with breathing are top priority.
That is why, at Pommama, we don’t believe that one class suits all. To that end, we have developed our three-stage programme to accompany you all the way through your pregnancy.