We’ve often heard the cue “Listen to your body” in yoga classes. Sometimes it is in a heated yoga class where you are really being pushed to your physical limits, or sometimes it just comes as a cue before a more challenging yoga pose that is out of your comfort zone. It can come up in prenatal yoga very often too.
I love the message behind it. I like to think that we are your own best teacher, and you and only you are in charge of your practice. But in prenatal yoga, there can be so many things going on in your body, so here are some things to keep in mind to make “listen to your body” work best during a prenatal yoga class:
Pregnancy Hormones – During pregnancy, our bodies are pumped with extraordinarily high levels of hormones, one of them being “relaxin”. As it’s name states, this hormone relaxes ligaments around the pelvis, and helps the body open up for birth. As a result, pregnant women have increased flexibility, often feeling like they could stretch for days! For example, pay extra attention during a deep hip opener like half pigeon so you don’t overstretch.
Diastasis Recti – This refers to the separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy, which often results in the dreaded mom “pooch” after you give birth. Many women are not even aware of this as a condition until after they have their babies. Aside from how it looks, it can also contribute to lower back pain, and other health conditions after childbirth. However, you can not feel this separation happening. Some women will even crave poses that greatly contribute to diastasis recti, like full camel, full wheel, and other back bends, but these poses are not safe for the pregnant body. As prenatal yoga teachers, it is our job to help prevent postpartum health concerns, such as diastasis recti, as much as possible. During prenatal yoga classes, it’s important to know what “diastasis recti” is and why we avoid certain poses.
A Wide Range of Practitioners – Prenatal yoga is open for all mamas-to-be, which means it builds an amazing community! However, it also means that you will have women who may have never stepped on a yoga mat before right next to women who practice daily in 100 degree heat and everything in between! During prenatal yoga, in particular, it’s important to remember that sensation can be intense, but should never be painful.
Listening to our bodies during pregnancy is a wonderful experience, and it’s a time when own intuition and wisdom can speak the loudest. It is an amazing part of the miracle of pregnancy. We should empower women to be the experts of their own bodies, which will help them prepare for their journey into birth and motherhood. As prenatal yoga teachers, we can give more support through more careful education woven throughout our classes.