Have you ever experienced not knowing how much you needed something until it was gone? I felt that entirely a few months ago. It’s no secret that Bikram Yoga has been an integral part of my life for over ten years. At this point, the practice honestly feels like an old friend. Because Bikram Yoga and I have such a solid foundation, I knew I would practice throughout my pregnancies. It just made sense: it was so much more than a workout, and it helped balance all of my systems and kept any unwanted stress away.
1. Empowering. Feeling and seeing my body work through the poses and knowing that simultaneously I’m growing a human makes me feel, oh, just about like Superwoman.
2. Fitness & Preparation. I enjoy the workout aspect of Bikram Yoga and when pregnant, I view the yoga as helping me prepare for the very physical activity a few months down the road: child birth. The cardio, strength, and concentration all needed in a yoga class are all needed during labor and delivery as well.
3. Strength. The relaxin hormone that’s released during pregnancy makes everything feel all loosey-goosey, and yoga helps muscles and joints stay strong as well.
4. Flexibility. While pregnancy hormones do help loosen certain ligaments and joints, it’s important to maintain flexibility elsewhere (specifically for the spine in my case) so that I don’t lose mobility in the months during pregnancy.
5. Balance. Pregnancy really throws off balance for even the most well-balanced women. Working on balance in a controlled environment (i.e. yoga class) helps pregnant women avoid losing their balance outside of class.
6. Bonding. Feeling the kicks and punches and rolls throughout yoga class is a pretty cool reminder that you’re doing something awesome for yourself and your kiddo. Yoga allows you to become really aware and tuned in with your body, and having the baby along for the stretch is certainly a bonding experience.
7. Inspiration. Nothing is going to make the yogis around you work harder than seeing a pregnant woman kickin’ some serious yoga butt!
8. Labor Thoughts. When you’re in labor, if it’s taking forever, you can picture yourself doing yoga, working through the postures, overcoming something challenging. I know this sounds completely totally crazy, but I actually did it and the positive thoughts were so powerful!
9. Stress-Relief. Pregnancy can make my mind race like nothing else. How will I have enough time? Energy? Money? Sleep? Space? We’re going to be out-numbered, on zone defense, 3 kids under 4. What if, What if, What if, What if….. Somehow when yoga class is done, I don’t have all the answers, but I also don’t have all the worries.
10. Community. Walking into yoga class completely exhausted, uncomfortable, and oversized to the sounds of yoga friends saying, “Hey! You look great!” and “Good for you for practicing!” and “You’re gong to be so well-prepared!” is just nice. It helps. They’re little words that go a long way.
11. You don’t let anything steal your peace. People make weird, boundary-crossing comments to a pregnant woman, everything from labor horror stories to asking if she’s carrying twins. Pregnant or not, Bikram Yoga teaches the philosophy of not letting anything steal your peace. And if there’s ever a time when that mindset comes in handy, it’s during pregnancy.
12. Sweating. Good-bye water weight and swelling! Despite my massive weight gain, I had no swelling in my hands, feet, or ankles. Bikram Yoga gets the credit for that.
13. Healthy Circulation. Your organs receive a major amount of circulation throughout every Bikram Yoga class. And what better time to maintain that healthy circulation than during pregnancy?! Especially for the organ that your body creates during pregnancy: the placenta.
14. Limits Aches & Pains. Weight gain, leg cramps, back aches, hip problems, and joint pain are all lovely side effects of pregnancy. Fortunately, yoga does a remarkable job of keeping these symptoms under control. While yoga did not completely cure my hip pain during my second pregnancy, it did help it from getting too out of control. I was back to normal (in the hip-pain sense of things anyway!) pretty much the day after my daughter was born. If you have pregnancy aches and pains, yoga alleviates them.
15. Appreciation. While weight gain and body change is inevitable during pregnancy, practicing yoga throughout these changes gives us an appreciation for what our bodies can do. Wow, I just did triangle pose and I’m eight months pregnant and 50 pounds heavier than normal! As a woman, especially a pregnant woman, having regular reminders to appreciate what our bodies can do is so healthy. Yoga is that perfect opportunity.
16. Foundation for motherhood. Motherhood is the most challenging yet simultaneously rewarding experience in the world, much like completing a Bikram Yoga class. Yoga gives moms-to-be the confidence to work through the sleep regressions, feeding challenges, hormone fluctuations, and the major life changes that having a baby brings.
I personally think that sweating and moving in any capacity is beneficial when pregnant, and Bikram Yoga happens to be my sweating modality of choice. The bottom line is that finding an exercise routine that resonates with you during these nine months can help you through the pregnancy and beyond!