Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yoga's the Thing

Image source.

I've been worried about my pregnancy workouts.  My doctor told me that I could do any workout that I was doing before pregnancy -- that includes high intensity workouts like running or interval workouts.  However, before pregnancy I was just starting to get back into a regular routine, using Michelle Dozois' killer Peak Fit workouts.  But I was not in good shape.  I was making progress toward being extremely fit, but I had not yet achieved fitness.  That left me feeling confused as to what a just-starting-to-get-back-in-shape pregnant woman should be doing in terms of exercise.

After carefully explaining the content of Jillian Michaels' 25 minute interval workouts from 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30 to my doctor, I felt comfortable doing those DVDs' Level One workouts.  But they were hard.  And now that I'm about to enter my second trimester, during which the stuff holding my joints together will start to soften, I don't feel quite so comfortable doing higher impact cardio.

So I started to look at yoga.  I have a few strength-based prenatal DVD workouts, but I don't think they deliver the full-body strengthening plus flexibility benefits that yoga does.  Besides, yoga will not only make me stronger and more flexible, but it will also help me specifically prepare the muscles I will use for birthing.  Which means that yoga must be the perfect prenatal workout, right?

Well, after Googling "prenatal yoga" yesterday, I wasn't so sure.  I kept finding pages and pages of warnings to NEVER DO THIS POSE EVER WHILE PREGNANT OR HORRIBLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN regarding poses that seemed safe for pregnancy.  In the end I felt afraid to do anything at all beside sit on my couch for the next six months.

I eventually turned to the circle for mothers over at Goddess Guidebook.  I posted a slightly panicked plea for help, asking what women did to move their bodies during pregnancy.  Thankfully, I got a lot of calm, knowledgeable reassurances that lined up with my doctor's original advice (which I had managed to forget during my mad Googling) -- that yoga is safe, and very beneficial to birth, and that the only poses that should be avoid are obvious ones, like anything done lying on the belly as well as deep twists, inversions, and binds.  And these are all things that I avoided intuitively anyway in a gentle practice I did yesterday, knowing that I've been out of my yoga practice and am not as flexible as I once was.

So I will be doing yoga for the rest of my pregnancy, and I will be doing it fearlessly, knowing that I can listen to my body, trust what I feel, and act accordingly.  I love how yoga strengthens my focus as well as my muscles, and how it forces me to meet my body where it is, especially now that I'm carrying a second person inside of me (which I still find incredible!).  My favorite yoga classes are all online podcast classes, the number one being YogaDownload.  I also really love the free podcast classes from Elsie Escobar and Eoin Finn.  Not only do they lead me into a delicious practice, but they have such deep wisdom to share as well.  I love it!

Do you practice yoga?  Do you have a favorite video or audio class?


  1. Sweet!!!

    You know, trusting your own body is THE most important thing. Part of delving into your growing a human being is being able to soften and truly trust the power that you already posses. You will be bombarded by fear from every which way. Seriously. Someone will offer some new possible horrible problem that you now NEED to worry about. *sigh* Staying centered and steady will be the most powerful superpower you need to develop :)

    I'm glad you will be continuing with your yoga practice :) I hope to offer at least another little something something for pregnant yogis here soon, but I'm actually co-creating with another incredible teacher a pregnancy program and tons of classes that will be available.....although I'm not sure how soon :) They will be available at I haven't shared too much but I'm currently 27 weeks preggers and have been doing a ton of video shooting :) Refining my skills both as a pregnant yogi and as a prenatal teacher, so if you need anything, please don't hesitate to ask!

    Thanks for the mention!

  2. That's so exciting -- both the new preggo program and your little bean! Congrats!! And thank you for the offer of doubt I'll be tweeting you at some point! :)

  3. I'm not a mom or a doctor, but I am training to be a yoga teacher. When we discuss pregnant students in our classes, our teachers tell us the general rule is "make room for the baby." So, as the belly grows, we would be avoiding deep forward bends and twists, and I would probably also avoid any intense abdominal work. Yoga also advises women to avoid inversions while on their period. I have broken that rule in the past with no real ill affects, but I would not have a pregnant woman do the major inversions (headstand or shoulder stand) in my class. And finally, there is the issue of joints opening up and softening that you mentioned. Since much of yoga involves stretching and extending, I would just be extra careful not to over-extend your joints. Hyper-flexible people who have naturally loose joints often don't get the desired effects in their muscles because they hyper-extend their joints instead. This may not seem to hurt at the time, but it's bad for the joints in the long run. So if you're doing yoga while pregnant, it's best to be aware of your natural range of motion and avoid pushing your joints beyond that. I hope that makes sense. Feel free to email me if you want to talk more. I found your blog via Goddess Guidebooks. :-D

  4. Yes, word on the street is that yoga is it. So happy you feel comfortable with your practice once again. I promise all those squats and hip openers will do amazing things for your body over the next several months. Listen to your body. Don't push yourself and you'll be just fine. :)

  5. Beth, congrats on your pregnancy!

    I totally didn't realize until I just read this :) So excited for you!!

  6. Thank you for the tips, Mary -- all very wise! :D

  7. [...] that working out at any time after six thirty in the morning is a very sweaty affair — even yoga!  Normally I would try to ignore my need for the gym, especially since this past March we invested [...]


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