We are delighted to publish this article on pregnancy yoga/ prenatal yoga by Anja Brierley Lange. She is a yoga teacher and yoga teacher-trainer, Aromatherapist, Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Self Care Alchemist.
About the author
Anja is the founder of Yoga Embodied and Soma Aroma. Here she shares her passion for holistic health and wellbeing. Her approach is elective having qualifications and experience in Ayurvedic medicine (BSc, PGDip), yoga, clinical aromatherapy, flower essences amongst others.
Her specialty is in working with women to facilitate space to create healing, and empower women to feel confident and balanced with their menstrual cycle, feminine health, pelvic awareness as well as during pregnancy and postpartum.
She created the online prenatal yoga course to support women with accessible and short yoga sessions designed to be added together for longer sessions when time allows.
As one of the pillars of health in Ayurveda is our digestion and mental/emotional health Anja has a strong passion for both.
It is all about balance: Aside from her continuous study and research Anja loves reading, writing and has a love for sweet and beautiful cakes.
Yoga in pregnancy
Empowered pregnancy with yoga
For me, yoga was never just about being flexible or as a form of exercise. The first time I tried a yoga class I felt like I was coming “home”.
Yes, my body felt stretched and alive. But my emotional and mental health also felt more flexible, more balanced and healthier. This is why I wanted to explore more, train to be a yoga teacher and eventually share the practice with others along with my experience and qualifications in aromatherapy and Ayurveda.
This is also why yoga is so powerful when it comes to the journey to motherhood.
Starting yoga pre-pregnancy
Yoga is a wonderful way to prepare the body for pregnancy. The practice helps to strengthen the physical body, it helps to create flexibility, stamina, and balance.
A pregnancy yoga practice is a great way to get to know our own body better: Where do we need more stability and strength? Where do we need let go and soften?
If we start the practice before we conceive we understand our “baseline”.
This is helpful as our body changes immensely during pregnancy and postpartum.
Pregnancy hormones such as relaxin allow the ligaments to stretch more than in a non-pregnant state and it is important not to hyperextend our joints.
If we know our baseline pre-pregnancy we know how deep we can stretch during pregnancy and postpartum. More on this later.
But what about our mental and emotional health?
Yoga is actually a lifestyle, a philosophy and way of being.
Here in the West, we associate it with the small part of yoga philosophy called asana, loosely translated as yoga poses. As we start our asana, or yoga pose classes, we also start to experience the relationship between our body, mind, emotions and perhaps even our energetic or spiritual being.
Practicing yoga as a mental and emotional preparation to conceive is just like the physical preparation: It strengthens, creates flexibility and balances our mind and emotions too. Yoga becomes a tool to help our emotional state during the journey to motherhood or parenthood.
Yoga for pregnant women
It’s never too late to start a prenatal yoga practice. I have students coming from their first ever yoga class at 30 weeks pregnant. And they still reap the benefits.
Specifically designed prenatal yoga classes are structured to support the pregnant body. We take into account how the body changes. Not just creating space for a growing uterus, bump and tender breasts. The mother-to-be is growing a baby or maybe several babies as well as a placenta – a whole new organ! Hormones also change.
As described above relaxin levels rises making her ligaments able to stretch more. This is a good thing as her body offers space for her growing uterus. But in her yoga practice, she needs to be mindful she isn’t hyperextending. Her blood volume increases as does her heart rate. All this is taken into account in a pregnancy yoga class.
In prenatal yoga, we want stability before flexibility. We strengthen the muscles to support her as her body transforms.
Both for her posture but specifically around her pelvis and pelvic floor to prevent pelvic girdle pain and pubic symphysis dysfunction (PGP). (Reference)
She explores how to move and stretch into to positions she could use during labour and birth. (Reference)
We work with the breath and the practice of relaxation.
Empowered pregnancy and birth
For me, the most important part is that each woman starts to listen to her own body and her own inner wisdom.
Allowing the yoga to be a way to explore her needs and how she responds to various sensations.
We have information overload and when pregnant we read and hear much advice.
It is difficult to distinguish what is right for us and what isn’t.
Yoga gives us the space to listen to our truth and how we choose to respond rather than react.
Prenatal yoga is in fact found to reduce anxiety and depression for mothers-to-be. (Reference)
Pregnancy and birth are unique to each woman.
She is the one who births her baby. It’s her body and her emotions. She is the one who can move, breathe, be still, dance (yes – dance!), and use her voice during labour and birth.
Her yoga practice offers her empowering tools to truly listen to her own body and her needs during the time of labour and birth – whether a vaginal or Caesarian birth.
Her yoga practice can be a way to support her mentally and emotionally during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
These are techniques she might learn in a class or online prenatal yoga class.
But she can take some of the poses, breathing practices and experiences and use them anytime and anywhere – including during her birth and immediate recovery.
Please find out more about Anja’s work by following the links below: