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Top Questions about Prenatal Yoga, Answered

You’ve heard from your doctor or a friend that it’s a good idea to take a Prenatal Yoga class when you are pregnant. But there’s a lot that you may not know. We’ve enlisted the help of our friend and Prenatal Yoga instructor Deena Blumenfeld ERYT, RPYT, LCCE to answer some of the most frequently asked questions she gets from expecting mothers:

1. If I’ve never taken a Yoga Class before, can I start with Prenatal Yoga?

Yes! Prenatal Yoga classes are structured for women at all levels of physical fitness, and yoga experience. Let your teacher know that this is your first class and she’ll make sure you are comfortable.

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2. I’ve been practicing Yoga for a long time.  Do I need a Prenatal Class or can I stick with my regular Yoga class? 

You should be able to stay in your regular yoga class for your first trimester.  Somewhere between weeks 15-20, you’ll find your practice needs to change to accommodate your changing shape and needs.  A Prenatal Yoga class will also introduce you to poses that will be specifically helpful to prepare you for birth and allow you to connect with other pregnant mothers.

3. How is a Prenatal Yoga class different than “regular” yoga? 

The biggest difference is that with Prenatal Yoga you are intentionally preparing your body for birth. Everything is tailored to your changing body and is safe and appropriate for all stages of pregnancy. The flow is slower paced to accommodate your increased blood supply and your decreased lung capacity. A non-prenatal class may offer modifications for you, but also may include poses that are inappropriate or unsafe.

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4. When should I start attending Prenatal Yoga? Is it ever too late to join?

You can join as early as the day you find out you are pregnant. There is no such thing as “too soon”. However, if your morning sickness is bad, you may wish to wait till it subsides before attending classes. It is best to attend class throughout your pregnancy to reap the greatest benefit, but it’s never too late to join.

5. How do I know the instructor is qualified to teach Prenatal Yoga?

Not all yoga teachers are created equal.  Ask your instructor where and with whom she did her prenatal yoga teacher training.  Find out if she’s certified by any organization to teach yoga, with an additional prenatal certification.  There are a number of organizations that do certify prenatal yoga instructors.  The requirements differ in not only the number of hours of training, but also the curriculum.  There are also a number of prenatal yoga teachers who teach with out certifications.  Don’t be afraid to ask in depth questions.  You should feel comfortable with your instructor.

6. What problems can my yoga instructor resolve?

Your Yoga instructor should always work within her scope of practice.  This means, unless she’s a medical professional too, she should not be giving medical advice.  She should refer you back to your care provider for questions that are beyond her level of expertise. So, she can help you with your back pain, but she can’t help you decide if taking a supplement is safe or if your pregnancy should be induced.

7. If I can’t do a pose, can my instructor help me?

Your instructor should be able to modify the yoga poses for your changing shape.  She should acknowledge your baby and make accommodations for issues that come up, such as carpal tunnel, sciatica, etc.  She should know how and when to use additional props, like blankets or blocks to make your practice more comfortable for you.

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8. Will we meditate or learn special breathing?

Meditation and Breathing should be incorporated into any prenatal yoga class.  The extent of the incorporation will vary from class to class.  You can expect your teacher to help you learn relaxation skills as well as how to synch your movements with your breath.

9. Are there any hidden benefits to attending a prenatal yoga class?

Yes, in class you’ll be able to connect with other pregnant mothers.  You will have a shared experience, be able to commiserate over pregnancy woes, and celebrate each other’s pregnancy joys.  This community can also help you find a new care provider, decide on which car seat to buy and help you find other local resources for pregnancy, birth and parenting.  Many moms who meet in a Prenatal Yoga class will also go on to become friends and share baby play-dates down the road.

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Additional tips for attending Prenatal Yoga Class:

  • Consult your doctor or midwife before beginning a yoga practice.
  • Call and ask questions regarding the specific class.  See if it’s a good fit for you.
  • Eat lightly before class and bring a snack for afterwards.
  • Bring a water bottle with you to class.
  • If you have an injury or a complication with your pregnancy, you must let your yoga teacher know.  She’ll be able to modify your practice to keep you safe.  Always check with your doctor or midwife if a complication arises before continuing your Yoga practice.
  • Above all, listen to your body.  Accept your limitations and work within them.  You’ll find that you can have a great class at any level.
Meet Deena

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Deena Blumenfeld ERYT, RPYT, LCCE is a historian, a collector, a writer, a Lamaze certified childbirth educator and a Prenatal Yoga instructor. She’s also the mother to two elementary school aged children. Her passion and her profession both are pregnancy and childbirth.

She is the owner, principal educator at Shining Light Prenatal Education in Pittsburgh Pa and she blogs at The Silent Mother.