Prenatal Yoga Benefits
I was nervous to try a prenatal yoga class—not because I hadn’t practiced yoga before, but because I was afraid of identifying with being a pregnant woman in case the baby didn’t make it past the first trimester. I felt like it would somehow make the experience more painful if I had said the words “I am pregnant” outloud to a group of strangers. I spent much of the first trimester on the couch eating mac and cheese and watching Netflix. I had terrible insomnia, and the less I slept, the more nauseous I felt. So dragging myself to yoga seemed impossible.
But as soon as the first trimester passed, I felt like myself again and was ready to share my good news with the world. I attended my first prenatal yoga class and instantly felt at home. Here we were, a group of women in all different stages of pregnancy, with differently sized-bellies.
We shared how far along we were and the highs and lows of the week. The women who were further along in their pregnancies had more complaints of aches, pains, and heartburn. Those in the first trimester or early weeks of the second were exhausted and trying not to barf. Those in the second generally seemed pretty content.
The instructor always had something reassuring to say as each woman shared and would provide little educational soundbites about pregnancy, labor, birth, or living with a newborn. We shared and we stretched and we breathed and when we left, we felt better than when we had come in.
It took exactly one prenatal yoga class for me to sign up for both pre- and postnatal yoga teacher trainings. I had completed my 200-hour training the year before but hadn’t taught on a regular basis. Now I felt like I was on a mission to help create this sense of community among pregnant women.
Aside from creating a safe place to share the highs and lows of pregnancy, I love prenatal yoga because of its wonderful ability to help prepare women for what’s to come: whether labor, birth, or caring for a newborn.
The breathing exercises that I teach can easily be used while dealing with contractions or while calming oneself down when the baby wakes up for the millionth time in the night. The poses we focus on can be practiced at home to promote optimal fetal positioning for the birth, used as a coping strategy in labor, or used develop strength in the body after birth.
I continue to be inspired by the women in my classes on a weekly basis. There are the women who come to class on or after their due date—uncomfortable and at the end of their ropes, but still attending. There’s also the women who come to class despite nausea, exhaustion, or pain and leave feeling a little lighter and a little more confident that what they are experiencing is normal.
Prenatal yoga is a wonderful gift to give yourself during your pregnancy. Whether you come for the community or for the exercise, all women are welcome at any stage of their pregnancy. No previous yoga experience is necessary.
I look forward to seeing you in prenatal yoga soon!
Mari started practicing yoga in 2008 and loved how she immediately felt at home in the yoga studio. She completed her 200-hour training at Samadhi Center for Yoga in 2013. Since then, she has completed at 15-hour Postnatal/Baby and Me training at the Mama'hood and a 20-hour Prenatal training at Belly Bliss. Mari is passionate about creating a community of women who can support each other while going through pregnancy and new motherhood. In addition to yoga, Mari teaches writing classes for pregnant women and offers intuitive energy readings. For more information, visit www.mariyamelby.com.