Many women are hesitant to join pregnancy yoga classes, mainly because their energy levels are already depleted just from being pregnant. Trying to commit to an exercise routine can therefore be difficult.

However, research shows that yoga holds many benefits for the mother and the unborn baby. These include improved sleep, fewer aches and pains, as well as important preparation for the birthing process. Unless you are a seasoned yogi, pregnancy yoga is best carried out with a qualified pregnancy yoga teacher who can help ensure you are not doing harm to yourself or your growing baby.

Pregnancy yoga classes – 10 reasons to consider joining

Here are 10 direct benefits to joining a yoga class when you are pregnant:

  1. Improves sleep and digestion by calming the nervous system.
  2. Gives you dedicated time to focus on you and your baby.
  3. Develops strength and stamina required for pregnancy and childbirth.
  4. Improves your balance, also needed for pregnancy.
  5. Connects mother and baby by increasing awareness.
  6. Increases circulation to muscles, which decreases swelling.
  7. Relieves aches and pains, and increases flexibility.
  8. Prepares the mother for childbirth through breathing techniques.
  9. Sense of sisterhood and unity with other women, experiencing the same thing as you.
  10. Reduces stress and anxiety.

What to expect from a prenatal yoga class

It is always good to understand a bit about pregnancy yoga and what to expect before your first class. This way, you can mentally and physically prepare.

Pregnancy yoga classes are typically very gentle and relaxing. A good teacher will work closely with you on a one-to-one basis to find our how your body reacts to certain poses and techniques. Your ability to get into certain poses may change frequently too as the weeks get closer to birth date.

This is why pregnancy yoga classes are usually just a few students. This way the teacher can really focus on your individual needs, whilst at the same time enabling women to bond together.

Typically a pregnancy yoga class will include:

  • Gentle stretching – working on reducing pain in key areas such as tight hips, as well as lower and upper back pain. Also, stretching helps to keep your limbs flexible.
  • Simple postures – standing, sitting or lying on a yoga mat, your teacher will instruct you to slowly move into certain poses aimed to improve your flexibility, strength, endurance and balance. A good pregnancy yoga teacher will explain the benefits of each posture so you gain further understanding of why it is you are doing the practice.
  • Practice breathing techniques – pregnancy yoga can help prepare the mother for similar breathing techniques required during labour to ease the contractions. Pregnancy yoga will focus on deep, slow and conscious breathing with a focus on being totally aware of your mind and body.
  • Relaxation and cool down – to finalise each pregnancy yoga class, there will be a time for relaxation. This not only returns the heart rate to normal, but also gives time for meditation and contemplation, or to create positive energy through the repetition of mantras. It depends on the type of yoga and the teacher, but by the end of the class, you should feel a sense of calmness and tranquility.

Which types of yoga are best for pregnancy?

Some yoga studios have specific pregnancy yoga classes. Others just invite pregnant women to regular classes, yet they will pay specific attention and adapt the class accordingly. At times they may give different instructions to anyone who is expecting.

Generally prenatal yoga, hatha yoga and restorative yoga are the best options for pregnant women. Although a gentle vinyasa flow yoga could also be suitable, or a gentle ashtanga, particularly for anyone who already practices yoga.

Bikram yoga and other hot yogas are generally not recommended for pregnancy.

The best thing is to talk to the yoga teacher first to discuss how your own pregnancy has been going. Tell them how you have been feeling and any specific medical conditions you have both generally and just during pregnancy.

If you can select a yoga teacher who is trained specifically in prenatal yoga then this will provide added peace of mind about the assistance you will get.

Pregnancy Yoga Classes in London

In London, you won’t be short of choice for dedicated classes for you whilst pregnant, and for you and your baby following.