Prenatal Yoga - So Much More Than Just Opening Your Hips
One of the most common recommendations a newly pregnant person will get is to do yoga. Doctors and midwives recommend it, sisters recommend it, coworkers recommend it. Almost everyone you come across will say that yoga is amazing during pregnancy, but very few people truly understand why. Often the recommendation will come along with a statement like “you’ll need to really open your hips to be able to birth your baby”.
Yes. Opening throughout your pelvic girdle will be required to birth your baby, but your body will facilitate this naturally through the production of a whole host of hormones aimed at relaxing your muscles and connective tissues. Oftentimes birthers actually become too loose and start to experience mild to extreme discomfort due to the connective tissues of their pelvis relaxing. Lightening crotch? Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction? Ouch. What’s needed to counteract this pain isn’t always more opening. Often it’s actually strength and stabilization in the muscles that support the pelvis to help mitigate the decrease in structural stability that pregnant people experience.
So how does one safely and effectively employ prenatal yoga? From my perspective, it should be practiced under the care of a highly educated yoga instructor who understands the interplay of stability AND mobility, the many contraindications of various perinatal conditions, as well as the connections from yoga into birth that go beyond the physical asana practice.
Prenatal yoga is most effective when you practice it alongside someone who really gets to know you and what you need and want. Do you truly need opening because you have extremely tight musculature or do you need to focus on building strength, stamina, and mobility. Are you experiencing tightness in the shoulders, neck and throat because you are running out of room for breath and using your secondary breathing muscles? Are you practicing with placenta previa, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or carpal tunnel and need intelligent and safe modifications? Do you want to learn about meditation and the idea of how to connect the calm you feel during practice into the calm you desire during birth? Awareness and control of the pelvic floor? The possibilities of why you may benefit from prenatal yoga are truly endless.
Prenatal yoga is a complex interplay of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual quests that can vary from birther to birther, from day to day. There is no one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter approach to practicing prenatal yoga, and in our western society that focuses on consistently pushing the limits of our physical fitness over the need to respect our bodies, hearts and minds, where do you go to find a practice that truly understands and prioritizes the needs of the birthing person.
There are some amazing practitioners out there and two incredibly accessible options that I always highly recommend are Mamata Yoga out of Edmonton and Yogini Melbourne out of, you guessed it, Melbourne! Each have a deep playlist of prenatal yoga videos available on YouTube that are safe, effective, and approachable.
Looking for those melty prenatal yoga vibes in person? Reach out - I offer private, one on one yoga that is crafted 100% with you in mind. The ability to move your body, connect to your breath, and flourish throughout your pregnancy in a way that is authentic to you is a beautiful thing, and I’d love to be a part of it.
Lindsey is a DONA certified birth doula and certified prenatal yoga instructor in Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Lindsey van der Lee
Birth Doula and Prenatal Yoga Instructor
CD(DONA) || CYT 250+