According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, staying active and fit during pregnancy is great for your body, your baby and your mental well-being throughout your pregnancy. This is especially true if you find a prenatal yoga class that provides an opportunity for socializing and building a community, not just a fitness class.
Prenatal yoga focuses on a woman's changing body during pregnancy. The hormone relaxin makes women's joints and ligaments more flexible and loose, so it's important to keep the muscular integrity of the body to avoid the typical pregnancy aches and pains. Specific poses and modifications help a pregnant woman strengthen the muscles to carry the extra weight of pregnancy as well as prepare for labor and birth. It's important to find a yoga teacher that has training and experience in prenatal yoga. There are yoga teachers out there that claim to have experience and I've had students come to me with stories of poses or movements that are specifically contraindicated for pregnancy. One of the best resources available to research yoga teachers is through Yoga Alliance, where you can see if the teacher has prenatal yoga certifications or training, specifically with the RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) designation.
Studies have shown that yoga is beneficial to pregnant women to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of pre-term labor. It can also help your labor and birth experience through the pelvic floor work, breathing exercises and meditation/focus techniques.
Experienced yogis can easily modify their current yoga practice during pregnancy, but most prenatal yoga classes are available to all levels of experience, including beginners, in any trimester. Of course, the prenatal yoga class is going to offer you more of a chance to meet other expecting moms in your neighborhood, so consider the value in that. Always seek your doctor or midwife's permission before starting any new exercise program. It is generally a bad idea to start any new exercise program after 32 weeks.
Pregnant Goddess Yoga is on Wednesdays at 8pm at 275 90th Street, Brooklyn. Pre-registration is required.