When to Switch to Prenatal Yoga During Pregnancy

pregnant woman sitting in sukhasana pose over the words "when to switch to prenatal yoga during pregnancy"

Practicing prenatal yoga is an excellent way to prepare your body for labor and take care of pregnancy-related discomfort. But when is the best time for you to switch to prenatal yoga?

Keep reading to learn about why and when you should switch to prenatal yoga classes.

(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. Click here to read our disclaimer.)

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pregnant woman sitting in sukhasana pose over the words "when to switch to prenatal yoga during pregnancy"

What Is Prenatal Yoga?

Prenatal yoga is a style of yoga specifically designed for people who are pregnant. Prenatal yoga teachers complete a certification that involves 80-plus hours of learning and practice teaching pregnant yogis. This specialization in pregnancy yoga is in addition to their original yoga certification, such as CYT-200.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Yoga is extremely beneficial at any point in your life. So you can only imagine how helpful yoga during pregnancy is!

The benefits of prenatal yoga include:

  • improved sleep
  • reduced stress and anxiety
  • preparation of the muscles used in childbirth
  • reduced risk of preterm labor

Related: 10 Powerful Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

a pregnant woman practices malasana after the switch to prenatal yoga

What Happens in a Prenatal Yoga Class?

If you’ve never been to a prenatal yoga class before, here’s what you can likely expect:

  • Breathing – Like any other yoga class, prenatal yoga will include a focus on the breath and specific breath control exercises.
  • Gentle Stretching – The yoga teacher will lead you through a warmup period that includes gentle stretching, warming, and opening of the body.
  • Prenatal Yoga Poses – The poses in a prenatal yoga class technically aren’t any different than the poses you’d practice in a “regular” yoga class. But there are likely specific poses your teacher will avoid because they’re not safe for pregnancy. And poses that address common pregnancy complaints or prepare the body for childbirth will likely receive a greater focus.
  • Yoga Modifications for Pregnancy – Certain positions, like twists or laying on your belly, aren’t considered safe for pregnant individuals. Your yoga teacher may avoid them altogether or provide modifications to make them safer and more comfortable for you.
  • Cool Down and Rest – Near the end of a prenatal yoga class, your instructor will lead a period of cooldown stretches before transitioning into rest or savasana – my favorite part of a yoga class!

Why Switch to Prenatal Yoga?

Even if you’re a longtime yoga practitioner, there are many reasons to switch to prenatal yoga at some point during your pregnancy. Here are a few of them:

1. Prenatal yoga teachers have the safety of you and your baby in mind.

Obviously, you always have your baby’s wellbeing as your highest priority. Eventually switching to prenatal yoga is just another part of that, as instructors are knowledgeable about your changing body and how to make sure that you and your little one are safe in every pose.

2. Pregnancy yoga classes are an opportunity to learn!

One of my favorite things about yoga is how much there is to learn. With the body of knowledge available about philosophy, spirituality, and physicality, I know that I’ll never be finished with my yoga education.

Prenatal yoga is just another facet of this education. It’s an opportunity to dive deeper into my body, mind, and spirit and how yoga can enhance my relationship with myself and the world. Taking yoga classes that are specific to pregnancy is an opportunity to become more informed.

3. The hormone relaxin causes big changes in your body.

Relaxin’s job is to loosen your muscles, joints, and ligaments so that your body can stretch and make room for your baby and prepare for delivery. While relaxin is essential to pregnancy, it also poses some risks.

Relaxin makes it more likely to overextend in yoga poses and possibly cause injury. A prenatal yoga teacher can help you work on alignment and avoid stretching too far during a yoga class.

4. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with other pregnant people.

If you’re taking in-person prenatal yoga classes, you’ll have the chance to interact with others who are pregnant at the same time as you. Although I’ve felt super supported by all of my family during my pregnancy, there’s something so encouraging about speaking to someone else who is currently pregnant and experiencing so many of the same things I am.

Related: First Trimester Yoga: What to Focus on & What to Avoid

When Should You Switch to Prenatal Yoga During Pregnancy?

The time when you decide to switch to prenatal yoga will be different for every person. It will depend on your experience with yoga, as well as the way your body changes throughout the course of your pregnancy.

If you’re brand-new to yoga, it’s probably a good idea to just get started with pregnancy yoga right away. Or, if you’re in your first trimester, you might check out specifically beginner-friendly classes.

If you’re a more experienced yogi, you can probably continue your normal yoga practice for awhile and modify poses for yourself if they become uncomfortable.

Once your belly becomes more pronounced, it’s probably a good time to switch to prenatal yoga. In addition to yoga modification for pregnancy, you’ll receive guidance on balance and stability, since your center of gravity will have changed.

Whether you have yoga experience or not, if you’re taking a regular yoga class, it’s a good idea to tell the teacher that you’re pregnant. Let them know if you’d like for them to suggest modifications or if you’re planning to modify for yourself. That way, if the teacher sees you doing something totally different than the rest of the class, they’ll know why.

two pregnant women meditate in sukhasana after they switch to prenatal yoga class

Where to Find Prenatal Yoga Classes

There are a few different types of prenatal yoga classes: in-person, live virtual, and prerecorded.

To find in-person prenatal yoga classes near you, search for your city + prenatal yoga class. There may be an entire prenatal yoga studio near you. Or you might find a regular yoga studio that happens to offer prenatal classes.

If you can’t find any in-person prenatal yoga classes in your city (or if you’d just prefer to practice from the comfort of your home), live virtual classes might be the right call for you. This way, you can still receive in-the-moment attention from an instructor who can see you practice over video. Search for virtual prenatal yoga class to find some options!

Another option is to search for prerecorded prenatal yoga videos on sites like YouTube or on yoga apps. An advantage of going this route is that you can search for yoga classes by semester and find practices specific to that period of your pregnancy.

Related: First Trimester Yoga Videos

No matter when you switch to prenatal yoga during pregnancy, you’ll find so many benefits in the practice. Make sure to listen to your body and let you teacher know if you have any discomfort.

What questions do you have about making the switch to prenatal yoga? Tell me in the comments!

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