Prenatal yoga

In 2016, I trained with the experienced yoga teacher and midwife Judy Cameron to complete my British Wheel of Yoga ‘Yoga for Pregnancy’ qualification. I taught 12 prenatal yoga classes during July then ran a 6 week course in August and September. Since October, I have taught a pregnancy yoga class on Monday evenings. Full details can be found at the Weekly classes tab of this website. You can see some of the feedback from people who came to the 2016 prenatal yoga classes in the Testimonials section of this website.

pregnancy yoga

A gym ball is an excellent pregnancy yoga prop…

Yoga is a great way to maintain or develop your health, fitness, and capacity to relax throughout pregnancy.  It helps prepare the mind and body for labour, birth and beyond. You do not need to have had any previous experience of yoga to join a pregnancy yoga class. Prenatal classes include gentle exercises which strengthen the body and mobilise & ease the joints, without strain. A range of simple, calming breathing exercises are taught, which many women find useful while pregnant (e.g. to help with insomnia or reduce stress), during labour itself, and after their baby is born. Every session ends with a guided relaxation. Most pregnant women are leading busy lives and rarely get a chance to stop for a rest, so women often discover the final relaxation is one of their favourite aspects of pregnancy yoga!

You  can do yoga throughout pregnancy, but most women prefer to wait until they are around 14 weeks or so before starting yoga. You do not have to stop doing yoga at any particular stage in your pregnancy – many women continue doing yoga throughout, including using certain positions and movements to ease labour. However, what feels most comfortable and beneficial changes as your pregnancy progresses. For example, from around 30 weeks, it’s better to lie on your left side than on your back for the guided relaxation at the end of class. And from around 37 weeks, partial inversions such as ‘Downward Dog’ can become uncomfortable. You will be given guidance throughout classes and suitable alternatives will always be suggested and explained. Yoga Scotland also has detailed guidelines for pregnancy yoga and there is an extract from these and a link to the full guidelines at the foot of this page.

Pregnancy yoga pose downward facing dog

Downward Dog (image credit: http://www.fittamamma.com)

I take yoga seriously, but I also find it fun – and I think that’s reflected in the friendly and informal atmosphere of my classes.

Everyone who comes to classes with me is asked to fill out a registration form prior to or at their first class. This provides me with your contact details and some background information on your general health and any previous yoga experience. The prenatal form also asks for pregnancy-specific information such as whether you already have children, and whether you are currently experiencing any issues such as heartburn, backache, pelvic girdle pain, etc.

Prenatal classes are held in my yoga room in Borve. Full directions are emailed to everyone booked into classes. Doors open 10 minutes before the start of class. Please aim to be inside the yoga room 5 minutes before the class start time, so you are settled and ready to begin with the rest of the group.

As with any exercise, it’s best not to do yoga on a full stomach. People are often advised not to eat for a couple of hours before doing yoga, but this is not recommended when you are pregnant.  A snack such as a banana or oatcakes half an hour or so before the class is a good idea, especially if you’re coming straight from work or an otherwise busy day. Bring a bottle of water with you. Wear comfortable clothing such as a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms or leggings.  Yoga is usually done in bare feet. Your body will cool down during the relaxation at the end of class, so make sure to bring warm socks and a jumper too. I have yoga mats, blankets and other equipment in the studio, but if you have your own equipment and want to bring it, please do. If you’ve not done yoga before, have a browse around my website before you come to your first session, especially the sections ‘About yoga’, ‘About Catherine’ and ‘Weekly classes’.

Yoga for Pregnancy classes. I run pregnancy yoga classes/courses periodically, in Borve on Monday evenings – see my timetable in the ‘Weekly classes’ section for details. You can also do private pregnancy yoga sessions, whether one-to-one, with other pregnant friends, or with your partner – see the ‘Private tuition’ section for more information.

The extract below is from Yoga Scotland’s Guidelines for Teaching Yoga to Pregnant Women. You can see the full guidelines by clicking on the highlighted link!

1. Advice to women

1:1 Discuss with your midwife the most appropriate Yoga class to join if starting for the first time. Ideally you should join a class taught by a teacher qualified in Pregnancy Yoga. Failing this, choose a beginners class or one with a slower pace. More physically strenuous forms of yoga practice involving fast-flowing aerobic sequences, raising body temperature, and breath retention practices are not appropriate in pregnancy.

1:2 If already practising Yoga asana, continue to practise whilst acknowledging your changing body, and be prepared to slow down, modify or cease practising postures which cause discomfort or pain, preferably with reference to your yoga teacher (Clapp 2006). Always inform your teacher of any discomforts or concerns arising through your pregnancy.

1:3 Stop exercising or practising Yoga if feeling light-headed or fatigued. Sit or lie down and practise simple relaxed breathing.

1:4 Drink plenty of fluids – bring a bottle of water to the Yoga class and eat something light beforehand e.g. banana, piece of toast and bring a snack for the end of the class.

1:5 To complement your Yoga practice, choose a ‘light to moderately hard’ form of exercise such as walking or swimming to develop muscle tone, strength and stamina. Gradually increase this exercise to two or three times a week (Clapp 2012). Note that a moderate level of exercise may protect both mother and baby e.g. from raised blood pressure (Yeo 2008).

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