Prior to becoming pregnant I loved attending regular yoga sessions, including Aerial Yoga which involves hanging upside down from silks! I had also started doing private sessions with Stephanie Williams from Kalpita Yoga, focusing on inversions, involving headstands, handstands and arm balances. I really found this to be a great compliment to my running training, Pilates sessions and gym workouts. Becoming pregnant changed my exercise regime dramatically! High intensity workouts were no longer an option, and being so unwell for the first 4 months there was no way I could tolerate being upside down! Luckily I was in great hands with Stephanie, as one of her special areas of interest is pre-natal yoga. She has been able to modify my weekly session to suit my changing physical needs, energy levels and nausea. Working in a physical job I am so grateful to have been able to keep up a regular stretching session to loosen up my upper back, neck and shoulders.
I spoke to Stephanie recently and asked her some questions about pre-natal yoga and how it can benefit you throughout your pregnancy. Here’s what she had to say:
How long have you been teaching yoga?
I have been teaching yoga for just shy of 3 years now and launched Kalpita Yoga offering private sessions in the comfort of the client’s home for 2 years.
How is pre-natal yoga different to a normal yoga class?
Pre-natal yoga is just like normal yoga except the class or session is designed to support the needs of your changing body and adapted so you can comfortably move around the baby growing in your womb.
The focus is on poses that will benefit and strengthen a mothers’ body in keys areas, such as the glutes, legs, back and pelvic floor, while also stretching the glutes, whole hip area and encouraging mobility in the spine and upper thoracic.
A good pre-natal yoga practice will also help you prepare for labour and birth with the cornerstone of every session being the breath and learning suitable poses for an active labour.
It’s also important to avoid postures that may cause you or your baby harm while pregnant, such as any pressure into the abdominal area, any poses lying on the back for too long, inversions, holding of the breath and overheating of the body.
Other things to be mindful of such as, blood pressure, energy availability and specific concerns such as pelvic instability will depend on the individual and will vary for each pregnancy and even from session to session.
What drew you to start teaching prenatal yoga?
My interest in pre-natal yoga actually extended from my initial intention to learn more about postnatal yoga. My sister was pregnant while I was doing my first yoga teacher training. After the pregnancy, I saw how hard it was for her to access regular classes, that were both specific to her needs as a new mother and also allow her to be responsive to her baby, if needed, in order to complete a class or session.
After further research I found there was a genuine gap for women in this area and knowing how beneficial it was to a new mother, I immediately extended my focus to learn as much as I could about postnatal yoga.
Pre-natal yoga was a part of the course I completed and I found the whole subject absolutely fascinating, the myriad of changes that occur in our bodies, a woman’s innate ability and desire to care for her child and the ways in which yoga can assist her really spoke to me. I fell in love with the subject and as a teacher I relish the opportunity to help women to truly connect to their mind and bodies during a period that is so very special.
Can you start yoga while you’re pregnant if you’ve never been to yoga before?
Yes of course! I know so many people who have started their life long yoga practice after beginning with pre-natal sessions. For those women who’ve not previously had a yoga practice, I would advise prenatal specific classes or private sessions and the sooner you start after your 13 week scan, the better.
What are the benefits of starting or continuing yoga throughout your pregnancy?
Where to start?! There are so many, but I will keep it to the top 4 I see:
- Increase in strength and openness of the body, which not only helps in the carriage of the baby as it grows and the general body shift through the whole pregnancy but also prepares the body and mind for the strength and stamina needed for labor.
- Breathing becomes much more difficult as the baby grows. Regularly working on your breath can really help with you lung capacity, helps to settle the nervous system and also is an important tool to employ during your birth.
- Recovery after birth. A healthy strong body during pregnancy means that your post birth recovery will be much easier.
- Connection with your body and your baby. Pregnancy is a very intimate time and a time of great change. Yoga allows a woman has the opportunity to stop, and connect with her changing body as well as reflect of her baby’s growth. Meditation can allow you another level of connecting to baby and reducing the noise of every day life.
How long can you continue a pre-natal yoga practice?
I am happy for my clients to continue right up until birth, however it really depends if it still feels like its supporting you. I find that the women who have started yoga earlier in their pregnancy find it much easier to continue all the way up to birth. I actually did a session with a client the day her waters broke, she was so strong and moving so well even that advanced into her pregnancy, it was great to see.
Where do you teach pre-natal yoga classes?
I teach pre-natal classes by appointment one-on-one with the client in their homes.
I also teach at 2 wonderful studios in Melbourne:
Kula Yoga in Hawthorn at 9:30am Saturdays
Saltwater Yoga in Williamstown at 12pm Saturdays.
On the 18th of February I will be running a workshop at Saltwater on how to modify your practice for pregnancy. This class will be beneficial for both those experienced and new to yoga prior to pregnancy or even those looking to get pregnant in the near future.
Find out more information about Stephanie and pre-natal yoga on her website or contact her on 0411170175