If you’ve been on the Baby2Body app, we’re guessing you’ve done a workout with Laura Lucas, one of our amazing fitness and yoga experts who specializes in prenatal and postnatal classes. Laura does an amazing job of blending resistance training with flexibility to help women build strong, healthy bodies for themselves and their babies. Also… spoiler alert: we’re working on some brand new at-home routines with her, coming to the app soon!
While Laura’s typical classes combine free weights with resistance bands and mobility moves for a full body workout, she also loves incorporating yoga into her programming for her pre and postnatal clients. We picked her brain about why she loves yoga for pregnancy and new motherhood, what modifications should be considered at each stage, and snagged her top tips for getting started with yoga if you haven’t already.
What do you love most about yoga, especially as a prenatal and postnatal fitness trainer?
First is really the role of the breath. Connecting the breath to movement is one of the main components of yoga which is important for everyone but essential for pregnant women and new mums. Your pelvic floor, diaphragm, TVA (deep abdominals) and breath all need to work together for optimal function of the core, which is under a lot of strain in pregnancy. Breathing correctly can actually support postpartum recovery. Not to mention the calming effects breathing correctly has on the nervous system!
Another reason I love it is because yoga is suitable for everyone as it is low impact and can be regressed and tailored to the individual’s needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a prenatal or postnatal exercise regime, some women will continue with quite advanced yoga if that is what they were doing pre-pregnancy and if it’s right for their body, whereas another woman might find that sticking to cat/cows and child’s pose is enough for them.
And lastly, it’s so good for the body. Staying flexible during pregnancy will help to prevent and alleviate aches and pains. Yoga also improves posture which is essential during and after pregnancy as your center of gravity shifts forwards many women end up with postural imbalances.
What modifications need to be made to your yoga practice during each stage of pregnancy?
This will differ slightly depending on each woman’s previous yoga experience, so that’s important to keep in mind. But here are some general guidelines:
First Trimester yoga guidelines:
If your pregnancy is considered non-complicated you can usually continue with your usual yoga routine (although Hot Yoga/Bikram is never advised during pregnancy).
Second Trimester yoga guidelines:
Avoiding intense core work (for example, the boat pose) and avoiding deep backbends, deep twists and inversions are critical.
Any pose that requires lying in the prone position (flat on your front), or supine (lying flat on your back) for an extended period of time should also be avoided. However, it is fine to be on your back for bridge pose, as for the most part there isn’t direct pressure on your back.
Watch for doming/coning at the midline in any pose as it can be an indication that there is too much pressure on the abdominal wall.
Third Trimester yoga guidelines:
All the same guidelines as the second trimester still apply!
Your growing bump may restrict some of the poses, so you may have to make modifications to find a comfortable position.
4th Trimester yoga guidelines (the early postnatal phase):
This really depends on the individual; if you have diastasis recti, you should continue to avoid deep twists and intense abdominal work until you have good tension across the midline.
All women should remember that the postnatal stage should be treated as rehab whether you had a straightforward birth or not. It may seem a little boring to start with gentle yoga routines if you’re used to doing power yoga but stripping it back to basics for at least the first 3 months is essential.
And before we let you go, what are your top tips for pregnant women and mothers wanting to add yoga to their routine?
- Be realistic with your goals. Everyone’s time short these days (especially mums!) so if 5 or10 mins is all you can fit in then aim to do that!
- If having a yoga teacher or pre/postnatal classes are not accessible then choose an appropriate pre/post natal app or online videos to follow along with. (Like Baby2Body!)
- Remember that “comparison is the thief of joy”; try not to compare your yoga to anyone else’s. It can take 10+ years of regular yoga practice to be able to do the advanced postures. Everyone’s pregnancy and postnatal journey is different, and it’s not a time to be trying new challenging poses – so focus on the basis of your own breath, movement and pelvic floor!
Laura Lucas is a London-based personal trainer and yoga teacher specializing in pre and postnatal fitness. She is a Certified Level 3 Personal Trainer and has her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. She fundamentally believes that exercise has a transformative effect both physically and mentally, and is passionate about helping mothers take well-deserved time for themselves and their bodies.
You can follow Laura @lauralucasldn