Yoga and pregnancy make for an interesting combo. Firstly, there are those who believe pregnancy and yoga go together like strawberries and cream and it’s a great time to start. On the other hand, there are lots of regular yogis who suddenly disappear the moment, they find out, worried that they won’t be able to “do” it or that it may be contra-indicated.
So what is the answer? Yes or no?
Truth is, the answer is different for different people. It may also depend on the class style. In Sydney, pregnant with my eldest boy, Coby 16 years ago, I was recommended to try a pre-natal class that was taken by a midwife/yoga teacher at the RPA. I went along a few times but for me, it seemed quite boring and dull after my usual class. However, it was perfectly safe and doable for all beginner-yogini Mummas-to-be.
The classes I usually attended with Simon Borg-Olivier were not “beginnery” in any sense! However, there was absolutely no pressure to “perform” – quite the opposite in fact . It strikes me then, that that kind of stuff is usually based on stories we create in our own head and comes back to the pressure we put on ourselves. Having said that, I wasn’t a complete beginner yogi by that stage so I knew exactly how to modify and what to avoid. It seemed obvious – common sense really. In other words, I was a reasonably experienced yoga practitioner executing mainly beginner poses in an intermediate/advanced class and – imagine this – nobody else could care less!
When pregnant women ask me if my general classes are suitable for them, pretty much what I will say is this: There is no need to stop doing what you normally do, but if you’ve never done yoga before, it’s really not a great time to start. In actual fact, it’s not a great time to start any new physical exercise program. Still, if you’ve been running, keep running for as long as you feel comfortable, but don’t start running; just go for a decent walk every day instead.
In conclusion, if you have been coming to yoga for a while and are fit and reasonably body aware, there is absolutely no need to stop. Of course, there will times you have to modify or swap certain poses for others; of course it will be imperative to let go of the idea that physical yoga practise is like other exercise programs and based on performance, but if that was the only reason to attend in the first place, the actual yoga aspect of things may have been largely missed.
(*Image by Sally Turk-Dunwell taken at the last class I taught a week or so before having Oliver nearly 11 years ago at the little community hall in Old Salamander)