23 Oct YOGA AND PREGNANCY: Q & A WITH SHAUNA HAWKES
Written by Cat Woods ・ 10 mins
Shauna Hawkes has been a teacher with Power Living Australia for the past eight years. She teaches, facilitates programs, runs workshops and supports the teacher training program. In addition to her role as a teacher, mentor and facilitator, she is also a mother to two children; Noah and Hope. Here she shares her experience and knowledge in how yoga and pregnancy can be approached without fear.
Who can benefit from practicing yoga pre and post natal?
A majority of woman can benefit from having a yoga practice pre or post natal. It’s recommended that you see your doctor before practicing and if you are working with injury or specific conditions (sciatica) that you get a doctors permission before starting yoga either before or after pregnancy.
Who is at risk?
Practicing yoga during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause a risk. Because the embryo must first attach to the uterine wall, inverting (including downward facing dog) can cause risk. However, with that being said, a woman who has a regular yoga practice is likely to be familiar with this movement in her body, therefore doing downward facing dog is a fairly normal movement in her body.
Another consideration is that a hormone relaxin is in the bloodstream. It relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix which is great for childbearing but it can pose a problem if a woman is pushing in herself in yoga to get stronger or more flexible. Because these ligaments are moving it can be easy to stretch a little too far. That’s why it’s essential a woman pays attention to her body and doesn’t try to advance in her yoga practice when she is pregnant.
What types of yoga are beneficial during and after pregnancy?
All types of yoga can be beneficial, it depends on what the woman’s previous experience with yoga has been. Pre and post natal yoga are going to be beneficial for most women.
A hatha style yoga practice is going to be beneficial both pre and post pregnancy.
Is yoga good for pelvic floor strength pre-natally and post-natal and what should I be aware of?
Pre and post natal classes focus a lot on this, however it is a little more uncommon to get this area of focus in a general hatha class.
Sometimes women can go overboard with strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, so that when it’s time to push the baby out, the muscles won’t relax. The key is to keep everything in moderation. Nothing too extreme!
How soon can I practice after giving birth?
Six weeks postpartum after you’ve had your checkup and the all-clear from your doctor.
Which poses are great for pregnant women and which are problematic?
Some really great poses during pregnancy are: Malasana squat and goddess, which are great for hip opening and getting the pelvis in the most open position for birth.
Side bends can be really beneficial for opening the rib cage, which can get congested with a baby inside.
Chest and shoulder openers can be great too. Woman often don’t realize how easy it is to forget about the shoulders and the more open and strong they are, the more it can help with holding the baby and breastfeeding post birth.
Problematic poses are ones that compress the belly. For example, closed twists or forward folds with the legs together. Wheel and upward facing dog are also problematic as they compress the belly. It can be common for women to forget backbends compress the belly. Poses like bridge and a gentle camel can be beneficial.
What was your experience with yoga and pregnancy?
When I was pregnant with my first there wasn’t much prenatal yoga. I taught and practiced at a heated studio and I had to learn how to keep my body safe through my experience.
I did attempt a few prenatal classes, but I found them too gentle with little active movement and I was used to a strong practice. So, I continued to practice a strong vinyasa style and modified when I needed too.
Where can I find out more information?
You can speak to your doctor or a teacher at the yoga studio you practice at.
What clubs do you teach at?
Power Living Australia and Modern Movement in Balgowlah.
Shauna Hawkes has own own home on the web.
Find a class near you by looking at our Timetables.