Prenatal Yoga: Everything You Need To Know

Here at Yoga Dublin, we have a superhero team of Prenatal Yoga experts to help all the gorgeous Mums-to-be feel fabulous and confident throughout their pregnancy and beyond.

Below, Lydia Sasse, Lisa Corrigan and Michele Van Valey give us an insight into these specialised classes and why they are so effective.
 Pregnancy Yoga

1.     What is prenatal yoga?

Prenatal Yoga is a modified Yoga class for pregnant women and it’s a great way to prepare your body and mind for childbirth.  In most classes, there is an increased focus on breathwork for labour and many of the postures are modified to accommodate the different stages of pregnancy and pregnancy related symptoms such as pelvic pain. 

From your physical body to your emotional state it is a key ingredient to a healthy, happy pregnancy.   It can also help you to meet and bond with other pregnant women and build a network of support for when baby arrives. 

2.     How is it different to regular yoga?

A typical prenatal yoga class will involve breath work, stretching, postures to build strength and endurance, postures to support optimal foetal positioning, postures for labour and pain relief and after a good work out you’ll be ready for some well-earned relaxation.   

If you have practiced yoga before, some postures may not be recommended in pregnancy and likewise other poses may need to be adapted to allow for your changing body.  Pregnancy yoga teachers will have specialist knowledge of the postures that support optimal foetal positioning. 

3.     I’ve never tried yoga before, can I start with prenatal yoga?

Lisa: Absolutely!  Many women come to yoga for the first time while pregnant and as a result enjoy and build a lifelong yoga practice.  Every level is catered for and all postures can be adjusted to benefit your body and individual needs. 

Brie & Michele - Prenatal Yoga Dublin

4.     What are the benefits during my pregnancy?

There are so many benefits, here a just a few:
  • Improved sleep, posture, balance, strength & endurance 
  • Increased flexibility and endurance of muscles needed for childbirth
  • Decreased lower back pain, nausea, headaches and shortness of breath
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Feel empowered and better prepared to birth your baby 
  • Connect with your baby and your changing body
  • Developing and practicing the breathing techniques that will get you through labour

5.     What are the benefits to me after my pregnancy?

Lisa: A regular yoga practice prenatally will aid recovery after childbirth and support the body to return to its pre-pregnancy state. 

Michele: When people ask me, “what is the easiest way to regain my fitness after the baby?”, my answer is always if you start out with and maintain a certain level of fitness through your pregnancy, chances are you will bounce back quickly. 

When you make yoga and meditation a part of your daily life, you become sensitive to your body as well as your baby’s needs.  While it’s not always easy balancing time for yourself and caring for a new baby, grabbing moments to even ‘just breathe’ will be of huge benefit. 

Lydia: During prenatal classes you will also learn exercises to strengthen and tone the shoulders and arms so that when you are holding/feeding/pushing your baby in a buggy once they are born; you are less likely to experience the common aches and pains that comes with the rounding of the shoulders when they are fatigued.

6.     Will practicing prenatal yoga help with the birth?

Michele: Yes. Yoga helps to build the physical, mental and emotional stamina for labour and everything that comes after! 

Lisa: Your yoga practice can encourage a deep connection with your breath, your body and your baby empowering you to trust your instincts as well as your body in childbirth.

Lydia: The key for so many people to a great birthing experience is breathing. Good breathing techniques enable you to stay calm and focused and your natural levels of oxytocin to remain high. Deep breathing relaxes all the muscles of your body including your pelvic floor , paving the way for a smoother passage for your baby. Prenatal yoga will teach you a variety of great birthing breaths to use during your labour.

Prenatal yoga will also strengthen your body and build stamina so that you have the energy and endurance for your birthing time. 

Prenatal Yoga

7.     Do I need to ask my doctor before attending?

Lydia: You should always check with your doctor if prenatal yoga is suitable for you. Once you start your classes , make sure to tell your teacher about anything that they might need to know such as a low lying placenta, heart burn , nausea,or SPD so that they can adapt the poses specifically to suit your body.

8.     When should I start?

You can attend class from 14 weeks pregnant which is usually when energy levels begin to pick up again.    

9.     What should I wear and bring to class?

Comfortable clothes that you can move in, a yoga mat and some water for hydration. At Yoga Dublin, we have water available.

10.  What made you decide to specialise in teaching prenatal yoga?

Michele:  Before prenatal yoga classes were popular, the occasional pregnant woman would show up in a regular class. It was important to me to learn how to guide a pregnant woman safely through a yoga class. 

Lisa: I always feared childbirth so when I became pregnant with my daughter Eabha, I knew I had to find a way to physically and mentally prepare myself to birth my baby.  I had practiced yoga for over 13 years so I decided to focus on attending 2 pregnancy yoga classes a week.  

I can hand on heart say that this yoga practice not only empowered me to have the natural birth I had hoped for but aided postnatal recovery and set me on a journey to becoming a pregnancy yoga teacher.  I started my first day of training when Eabha was just 3 weeks old and I regard it as a privilege to support other mums and mums-to-be on their journey.  

Lydia: I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and the birth process . It is such an unusual time in a woman's life ; to be your child's whole universe for 10 months is quite a journey! I saw a few of my friends have tricky birth experiences and decided there must be  a better way. Having practiced yoga since I was a little girl growing up in the Himalayas yoga seemed like a natural way to turn first . After doing some research on prenatal yoga and it's effects during pregnancy and labour I decided to learn more . My perinatal yoga training was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and changed so many things for me. I honestly believe that practicing yoga gave me the personal and physical strength to let go of my fears and birth my son at home 3 years ago.  

11.   What one yoga related tip/message do you have for the Mums to be out there?

Michele: Physical discomfort can occur with pregnancy. Not everyone experiences it but a few of us might get pelvic girdle pain, discomfort from rib spreading or other pregnancy related symptoms. Often, I hear, “my doctor said I’m just pregnant”.

It may be that there are some things you just have to live with for a few months but I am a big fan of looking for help. There are a number of amazingly talented acupuncturists, osteopaths, massage therapists and physios in Dublin who can help with discomfort and make pregnancy a little easier and more comfortable. Seeing the osteo gave me great relief from pelvic girdle pain throughout my pregnancies and acupuncture helped me with anxiety and sleep.

Also, while in a yoga class, remember that your body will be more flexible due to the relaxin experienced throughout your system. A good rule of thumb is to ‘find your edge and back off a little’ rather than pushing through. Relaxed effort.

Lisa: Embrace your changing body and its strength and power to birth your baby.  And remember to breathe.  Giving birth is the closest you will ever come to being superhuman!

Lydia: For me yoga is about feeling good in your body, these days there is a lot of focus on the "perfect yoga posture", the "perfect yoga body" in the media, let go of any preconceptions and come to class just aiming to make your body feel better than it does already. Trust the feedback you are getting from your body and move in response to that; if it doesn't feel good for you - don't do it. Your teacher will always be able to adapt a pose for you. 

Yoga Dublin Classes

Check out this link for information on Prenatal Yoga class times.

Don’t hesitate to give the studio a call if you have any queries.

Prenatal Yoga 2

About the Author

Aisling McCabe

Aisling may work a desk job but loves nothing more than being active and getting out into the fresh air and sunshine. She is a big fan of staying healthy and happy and believes the two are strongly linked.

She fell in love with yoga because of its feel good benefits and continues to reap the rewards of a regular practice every week. She adores the snow and sunshine and indulges in surfing or snowboarding as the season dictates. As a nutritional therapist and a bit of a foodie, she enjoys trying new recipes, looking for the balance between the wholesome and the indulgent!

Aisling has been our Yoga Dublin blogger for over two years and loves sharing her tips and insights for a healthy lifestyle.


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