You do belong in the class. However many weeks pregnant & whatever experience of yoga you’ve had in the past. I feel such a sense of admiration for busy ladies who have never stepped foot on a Yoga mat who make the time to give it a go. It can be scary enough to try something new without the extra physical and emotional challenges that come with pregnancy. Not only do you belong in the class, but it’s ace to have you there putting your precious time into focussing on yourself and your baby.
You are what a Yogini looks like. I heard this phrase when I was in a lovely Yoga class a while back and it instantly made me feel better. When most people think of a true Yogini, generally 2 images come to mind: 1) a svelte bronzed goddess akin to Elle McPherson in a tiny white bikini with their legs almost wrapped around their head looking serene and glowing or 2) a monk in a Thai temple deep in meditation. Neither are particularly relatable to a woman in pregnancy trying to get to grips with a constantly expanding body and a ‘glow’ more commonly due to sweat! This is not the reality. Forget what you see on Instagram and focus your attention inwards.
Noone can see if you’re ‘doing it well’. Not the instructor and not your neighbour. First off, there is no good and bad at Yoga. Yes, you’re alignment can be corrected and your positioning can be made safer, however (and this applies even more so in pregnancy), it’s really about you being present in the moment of your practice. Learning to let go and turning inward to how you feel physically and mentally. This isn’t mastered easily and certainly can’t be noticed by anyone other than yourself... but so important to work on in the lead up to your birth.
Just making it to your mat is more than most people will manage in their pregnancy. Even if you feel shattered, achy and barely move during a class, you have achieved more than most people just by walking through the studio door. I guarantee you that you will always feel better when you walk out of it.
Beware of the rose tinted view. The group of ladies in a pregnancy yoga class are not representative of all ladies in pregnancy! Ever wandered why most people in your class seem like they are sailing through the weeks and feeling fine, if not great? That’s because those feeling rubbish are at home under their duvet. Try to remember this if you have a dip week. If someone else has made it to class and opens up about any struggles, try to remember to be supportive in any way that feels right- an understanding smile can sometimes be enough.
You are doing enough in class. If you’re not feeling it and the postures don’t feel right for you, don’t push it. Just by being in that protected and supportive place can make a huge difference in giving you the space and time to stop and focus on yourself. It’s about finding the right medicine for your body and brain each time you come to your mat. “Yoga is not about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance” Gurmukh kaur khalsa.
Every class can feel different. Even when not navigating your way through pregnancy, we can be volatile beings. How we feel can be affected by so many things: What we’ve eaten, the interactions we’ve had that day, the amount of sleep we’ve had etc. In pregnancy, you are contending with exaggerated hormone shifts, tiredness, increased stress of juggling life as well as growing and preparing for a new baby and physiological changes that affect the way we move and breathe... just to name a few! Try to focus inwards about how you feel every time you make it onto your mat. Try to adapt how you approach your practice based on how you feel at every stage of pregnancy.
Don’t look sideways. A good tip for life in general, but certainly for Pregnancy Yoga! It doesn’t matter the size, gestation, shape or vibe of the person next to you, they will never be feeling physically and mentally the same as you. Of course there are similarities in pregnancy experiences, but ultimately you are unique. Remind yourself of this throughout the class and have the confidence to take your practice in a way that is most beneficial to you, just as you would want your neighbour to practice in a way that would best help them.
Come into your bubble. Similar to point 8... I love the idea of when you settle in on your mat, you imagine a big clear bubble forming gently around you and your baby. We take in so much stimulation from our sight sense which makes it difficult not to focus on our external surroundings. I would really encourage you to close your eyes more, come into yourself and really listen to what’s going on inside YOUR body. This will truly change your Yoga practice throughout your pregnancy and enhance your ability to move more instinctively- perfect for when you come to birth your baby. If you’ve ever seen a real life birth, you’ll notice a woman instinctively spends most of the intense periods with closed eyes. Practice it in a controlled and relaxed environment so it becomes second nature.
Release, relax & enjoy. Life during Pregnancy can be challenging enough and it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all and not take the time to enjoy what is actually a relatively short and precious time. Your Yoga class should be the one time in your week that is completed protected for you to feel good in your changing body and busy mind. A time you can walk through the studio door, leave the stresses and strains outside of it and ENJOY releasing off aches and pains, slowing things right down and finding a mini reset button.