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Yoga in Pregnancy

I have been asked several times about whether or not it is safe to do yoga during pregnancy in the last few months, and even had a handful of pregnant WNO staff attend my classes. My gorgeous and intrepid friend Maia became a regular at Nomad classes during her second pregnancy, and reported that it really helped with the lower back discomfort she was experiencing in the second trimester. I am not a trained pregnancy yoga teacher, nor have I experienced pregnancy for myself, but I am confident that my classes can be adapted for and beneficial to women at any stage of pregnancy if they have some prior yoga experience.

I was privileged to share my intensive teacher training course with Hayley, who was, at the time, five months pregnant with her beautiful daughter. I had read so much information about various different trainings and ALL of them said it was best not to train as a yoga teacher whilst pregnant. So how had this inspiring woman ended up on a two week course that involved starting classes at 7am and finishing just in time to fall into bed exhausted at 10pm? Well Zen Yoga, and the training, is a bit different. It places the focus on spontaneous yoga, meditation, energetics and the individual. It encourages listening to your body and mind, tuning in to what you personally need. There isn't any pushing or forcing or strain, and therefore almost everyone can benefit.

Daizan, our teacher trainer assured us that "...the only person who should walk away from a normal yoga class (and towards a special pregnancy yoga one) is someone who is pregnant and who has never done yoga before..." Hayley had been practising yoga for years and on our second day asked me to assist her into a headstand (something I couldn't even do myself at the time) I was alarmed... but she floated up so naturally I realised my own prejudices, and perhaps that pregnancy isn't a disability or an illness! Simply - pregnancy alters your balance. You don't want to feel your way into postures for the first time during this period, it's best to be a beginner in the body you know best. But otherwise the benefits are limitless!

I rarely teach advanced poses in my classes and would advise against my pregnant students attempting them. Almost everything can be adapted. If you are pregnant, have done yoga before and would like to come to one of my classes, come and have a chat about it - it is important that I know. After that all I ask is that you bring with you a willingness to listen to your body if it tells you to sit and rest, a contentment with only gentle stretching (your body is more pliable during pregnancy and it is easy to over stretch) and a determination to adjust your postures to suit your changing body and your baby. There is so much to be gained from the yoga everyone can do, the simple postures, pranayama and meditation, that there's no barrier to Nomad yoga for you if you're pregnant. It can be hugely beneficial in reducing your stress, calming your breathing and preparing you for the birth.

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