I’ve lost a lot of sleep during my past five years of parenting, but I still remember how I felt walking in to attend my first prenatal yoga classes. It was a total new-kid experience, with me wondering nervously who were all these chatty mamas, and why was everyone so darn happy?! Clearly, they’d all been best friends forever and were planning for their yet-to-be-born-kiddos to be BFFs too!
It didn’t matter that I was a yoga teacher, or that I knew the teacher leading the class. I still felt a little alone, a little unsure—an experience that’s true for so many aspects of a first pregnancy! Now, when I walk in to teach a class, I’m filled with joy when I hear that pre-class buzz of mamas sharing inspirations and commiserating over pregnancy weirdness. Boost your confidence for class with these five tips for creating your own great prenatal yoga experience:
1. Give a mama a welcoming smile and a kind word.
Welcome another woman to class, and you’ll feel more welcome, too. It doesn’t matter how long either of you have been attending this class or any other. Each practice is a chance to deepen your sense of connection with other mothers. If you’re struggling with feelings of inadequacy or loneliness, know that those can crop up for any mama, any time. The antidote? Your smile—along with a genuine comment about her cute yoga top or a heartfelt request for a bit of pregnancy advice—can set the mood for a great class for you and your sister-yogini.
2. Give yourself props.
Yoga props and lots of them can make a world of difference in your comfort. Ordinarily, I’m no fan of yoga props. But when it came to practicing child’s pose as a pregnant lady, I piled up the pillows, blankets, and an extra mat to make the pose delicious. Later in my pregnancy, I loved using a block to make forward folds feel more melty. And a blanket for savasana was a must. For your comfort and ease during class, gather your props before practice begins. If your studio is light on props, bring your own gear from home.
3. Share and share alike.
If your class begins with introductions, participate with a full heart. Discovering that you share a care provider or a guess date with another mother in class can give a little emotional boost or soothe a fear. If your class begins with a short discussion or Q&A, remember that your comment may be exactly what the mama-to-be next to you needs to hear. Likewise, be mindful of the time you spend speaking so women who need to give voice to something have their opportunity, too. Finally, if you’re feeling quiet and introspective, honor that with a deep breath, a soft smile, and the simply stated truth, “I’m just here to take it all in today.”
4. Be open to the dance.
Prenatal yoga practice offers so many useful lessons to help you prepare for birth. Physically, there’s a lot of emphasis on opening the hips, and one great way to do that is to dance, sway, and circle your blossoming midsection. So don’t be alarmed if your teacher asks you to let go of some traditional asana practice in favor of some free-flowing dance movements. Dancing in public isn’t your thing? Not to worry. Odds are, a good number of mamas in the room are feeling awkward about it too. Plant your feet, close your eyes, soften your knees, and let your hips swing wide as your arms float free. You’ll feel less conspicuous with your eyes closed and you’ll project a lot of confidence—which just may inspire another mama to get her yoga dance groove on!
5. Let the asana go.
Prenatal yoga practice happens on many levels in any given class: the breath, connecting with other pregnant women, tuning in to your baby, emotionally preparing for your transition through birth into motherhood, acknowledging pregnancy as a special occasion in your life, and of course the asana. It’s perfectly fine for the poses to be the least of your concerns! If you sweat, you sweat. If you shake, you shake. If your pose has a look all its own, you’re a trendsetter. Stay tuned in to your body, taking care to stay safely out of pain and resisting the urge to be the “A” student if that’s usually your type. Let the class unfold in your body and in your heart, moment to moment, breath to breath. Call in a playful sense of curiosity and let a quiet confidence lead you to inner strength, deep peace, and a soulful connection to the child you carry within.
Do you have a regular prenatal yoga practice? What do you do that makes each class more enjoyable? Share in the comments, wise mamas!