Who knows whether those prenatal sweat sessions will have anything to do with her own strength or flexibility (though she does do a mean full locust pose!) What's certain is that they kept her mother sane and healthy for 9 months, and that ain't nothing.
Before we get started: If you're expecting and have never done Bikram yoga before, we recommend waiting until after the first trimester to try taking class in the heat. And always consult your medical care provider before starting any new exercise program.
For those of you who are or are planning to become pregnant, here is my advice for a safe and pleasant pre-baby practice:
- Get Rajashree's Pregnancy Yoga DVD/CD. Bikram's wife Rajashree will walk you through the 60-minute series, demonstrating with a team of other pregnant ladies wearing supercool leotards. Rest and comfort are emphasized throughout. Learn the postures with Raj, then continue to practice at home with her, or in the studio during the regular Bikram yoga beginners class. There's an eBook out now, too!
- Take a private lesson or a special pregnancy class from an experienced instructor at your local Bikram yoga studio. If none are advertised, ask your studio owners- they may just be waiting to hear the demand is there. At BYSJ, I will happily practice beside you for a class or two and do the pregnancy poses so you have a visual reference.
- Take the breaks. A quick internet search will turn up an array of modifications to try while the class is doing the postures which Rajashree's series has you skip. In the first weeks of my pregnancy, it felt weird to just sit there while everyone else was working so hard! But a few weeks later, I was so relieved to have a rest that I couldn't have cared less. Even if you don't feel you "need" the rests, take them anyway. They will help you avoid over-doing it and allow you to keep practicing safely right up to D-day.
- Eat healthily and drink lots. Small meals throughout the day will help reduce nausea and heartburn. Make sure to get plenty of sodium, iron and (duh) water. Your blood volume increases during pregnancy by as much as 50%, so you'll need even more of what you usually do to stay hydrated.
- Move with care. Yeah, you should always do this, but it's more important now than ever. The hormone relaxin is released during pregnancy and results in more flexible joints, which can make you more susceptible to injury. Move slowly with intention in and out of postures to stay safe. Your pelvis is especially shifty during this time, and the muscles of your thighs and groin are learning to compensate. If you do get hurt, sit out any pose that aggravates the injury and give yourself time to fully heal before pushing those muscles again.
- Listen closely. Your body is elegantly suited for bringing new life into our world, and it is capable of incredible power and grace- inside the hot room and out. It will send you signals when it needs water, rest, air or a smile. Pay attention and give yourself everything. It's excellent practice for labor. And you definitely deserve it.
Enjoy this time with your little yoga buddy, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions about making the most out of your prenatal practice!