Since my contractions had completely stopped for over a week, my midwives said I could go to prenatal yoga classes. Yes, movement! I knew it wouldn't be the same as a regular yoga class, or a good run, or a circuit training class, but I was so excited for the opportunity to move and get on a mat again, I didn't care.
So I went. And I was right.
It was very gentle. Mostly stretching. No cardio or "flow" of a typical yoga class. No long holds of poses, no extreme strength moves. Not even any sweat was produced. But it was the best hour and a half I've had in a long, long time.
Clearly, the class is full of other pregnant moms, which built an instant sense of community in the room. We started the class going around an introducing ourselves, saying how pregnant we were, and listing any particular body part that was especially nagging us. The bulk of the women were between 25-35 weeks pregnant (one woman came on her actual due date! Get it, girl!), with a very small handful of women in the 13-18 week range. Hips and low back was a common body part cited that needed relief.
Now, if I had taken this class prior to my preterm labor situation, I would have been annoyed and frustrated with how slow it was, how I wasn't working up a sweat, and how I wasn't engaging enough muscle groups. Now that my perspective has been entirely changed, prenatal yoga classes are the highlight of my week!
The instructor was kind and assisted any woman who needed help with a pose. Nothing about any of the poses was challenging or would remotely put any woman in any sort of risk in her pregnancy. All the poses felt wonderful, and stretched what pregnant women need stretched, focused on the breath and relaxed us.
We focused on stretching and strengthening our hips and low back - no shocker there. But last night (my fourth prenatal/gentle yoga class) we spent a lot of time opening and stretching our ribs, chest and heart. I had been feeling like my lungs were cramped and breathing hard for most of the weekend, and after this class, I felt about ten pounds lighter and found it much easier to breathe. I'm not kidding! I cannot wait for my early afternoon class today. Who knows what will get worked on that I didn't even know needed some attention?
Sadly, prenatal yoga is NOT cheap. At my studio in Dallas, it's $135 for 10 classes, and individual classes are $15 each if you don't purchase a "package." Expect to pay roughly this, with national pricing ranging from $12-$25 per class.
What you'll need:
- Fitted but stretchy clothes
- Water bottle - even though the room is cool, you'll want to drink lots!
- Yoga mat, if your studio doesn't have them available to you or you don't prefer communal mats
Here's my advice for all the mama's reading this that are considering forking over the money for a prenatal class(es):
- If you didn't have some sort of a workout practice pre-pregnancy, or weren't consistent with anything, it is 100% worth your time and money to begin prenatal yoga classes! Do yourself and your baby a favor and begin going to a few classes a week. You'll notice a reduction in aches and pains, and begin to focus your breath for pain management during labor. There are also numerous benefits to your baby when you exercise while pregnant. Read this article if you need further motivation to have an exercise plan throughout your pregnancy!
- If you're struggling to keep up with your pre-pregnancy workouts, have some undesirable symptoms (round ligament pain anyone?), or have been told to scale back your workout efforts, start going to prenatal classes in conjunction with a few of your "old" workout habits. The prenatal class will seem like a nice break and breath of fresh air, and work to stretch any sore muscles you developed in your normal workout. As you get more and more pregnant, consider dropping more and more of your former workouts to include more and more prenatal yoga. It will help to maintain the shape you were in pre-pregnancy without exposing you to any risky situations. And it just feels so dang good.
Bottom line: just go! You will not regret it.
P.S. - If you're in the Dallas metro area and curious to where I go, I'm at Uptown Yoga Dallas and Lifetime Athletic Dallas