The purpose of yoga practice on the mat is to apply the skills we learn off the mat. Being kind to ourselves, finding our edge but not pushing unsafely past it, sitting with discomfort, trusting our body to support us, settling our mind, and being fully present. All these tools are rooted in yogic philosophy and weave though all yoga classes. Once you begin practicing them, you’re able to use the same ideas to resource yourself during challenges and changes in your life. And pregnancy, at least in my experience, was one of the greatest challenges and changes to both my mind and my body. My yoga practice was one of the things that helped me manage it with as much ease and grace as possible.
Yoga practice during pregnancy is designed to help expecting parents build strength and fitness while accessing the inner resources to face the challenges of labor with confidence and calm.
In a prenatal yoga class, students cultivate the flexibility, concentration and strength needed during the transformative time of pregnancy and childbirth.
Yoga asana (poses) can bring comfort to the changing body, as well as prepare muscles and ligaments for the process of labor.
Pranayama (breathwork), vocal toning, and meditation can also be used as tools during labor and delivery, as well as helping to manage the whirlwind of emotions that may be experienced during pregnancy.
No yoga experience is needed for our prenatal yoga class. We focus on the fundamentals because so many parents start yoga for the first time during pregnancy. The breath-exercises, concentration, and therapeutic work we do is not typical of a non-prenatal asana or vinyasa class. We work to build flexibility, strength and fitness through modified postures and movements designed for pregnancy.
We focus on exercises that might address common pregnancy discomforts and prepare for the endurance event pregnant people are training for: birth.
More experienced yogis who take care to adjust for their changing bodies may try to keep up their non-prenatal yoga practice or weekly class well into pregnancy. That’s fine, but I still recommend adding prenatal yoga to your routine for more therapeutic work specific to your changing body.
It might be tempting to simply log onto YouTube or visit the library and follow along with a free prenatal video. Those can be great resources, and we are thrilled that yoga is becoming more accessible. However, an in-person prenatal yoga class with a qualified instructor offers benefits you simply cannot reap on your own in front of a dvd or streaming video. Personalized sequencing, a watchful eye for alignment corrections, and customized adjustments complement camaraderie of a group class.
Expecting parents are welcome anytime, from a few weeks along to right up until the day of your delivery. In fact, we’ve had parents transfer the remainder of a prenatal class package into a Baby Yoga & Play class because they wound up giving birth sooner than expected! All we ask is that you listen to your body. Especially early in. pregnancy, you may find yourself too uncomfortable or exhausted to make it to or through class. Take care of yourself, and join us when you’re ready.
About the Author:
Jessica LaGarde has been teaching creative movement in the metro area since 2005 and is passionate about helping children discover and explore their bodies and the world around them. She was trained by Joye Newman, MA to teach preschool creative movement for Kids’ Moving Company, a Bethesda-based creative movement studio. In 2017, she completed her Baby, Toddler, and Children’s Yoga Teacher Training through Childlight Yoga.
In addition to working with preschoolers, Jessica is a registered massage practitioner and is trained in infant massage instruction. She has practiced massage for over twelve years and taught massage as part of Potomac Massage Training Institute’s professional training program. Outside of the movement space and massage room, she enjoys cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening and exploring the outdoors with her daughter.