6 Types of Prenatal Yoga Classes to Choose From

The yogic belly

Choosing a specific style of yoga class is no mean feat. Asthanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Satyananda, Jivamukti, Power Yoga (to name a few) bombard you from a single Google search. Several wholegrain biscuits later, once you’ve settled on a style to try out, you then have to choose a teacher and a location. No such headache in case of pregnancy yoga though. You just go ahead and choose some simple prenatal yoga classes. Right?

Varieties of Antenatal Yoga

Going with your gut feeling can work. All antenatal classes will provide a safe and helpful sequence of poses for you and your baby.  However, pace and duration of class, approach and philosophy will be unique to a given school or teacher. Given all this variety, choosing the right prenatal class can be as daunting as going pram shopping with the in-laws.

There are many highly professional, reliable pregnancy yoga providers in the UK. In most cases, their offers extend from early pregnancy to postnatal and mum and baby classes. Some also offer birth-related courses (also for couples) and holistic treatments.

prenatal yoga classes
Image Credit: bframe on Flickr.

1) Strong and Slightly Sweaty

Looking for a near (yet safe) approximation of a Vinyasa Flow in London? If you are already a yogini, you’ve surely heard of Triyoga. This yoga hub became something of an institution in the Big Smoke over the past few years and Nadia Narain is one of its most senior and recognized pregnancy teachers. The classes are strong paced and attract beginners and advanced students alike. You are going to experience a rhythmical sequence of standing and seated postures to a clear and precise instruction. The class is 90 minutes long and available from second trimester, and it’s very possible you’ll break into a light sweat.

2) A Gentle Mix

The Gentle Birth Method by Dr Gowri Motha is a combination of yoga, complementary treatments, self-hypnosis and visualisation in birth preparation. If you are looking for a holistic approach, that draws on many traditions equally and extends to birth itself, consider this method. The Yoga Micro Movements for Pelvic Release class that the centre offers is especially interesting. Developed from classic yoga, this 75-minute class aims to optimally release pelvic ligaments — an invaluable skill for when you’re in labour.

3) Nurturing the Body and Mind

Birthlight has been supporting pregnant mums and their partners for over 15 years now. Its founder, Françoise Freedman, is a renowned author speaker and yoga teacher. The organisation provides a comprehensive offer of classes, starting with fertility, through pregnancy, to toddler yoga. The main highlight is a focus on emotional well-being and nurturing the mother during class. Expect a flowing, gentle sequence, hip rotations, lots of breathing and relaxation. Birthlight Yoga is accredited with the Royal College of Midwives in the UK.

4) Active Birth Preparation

Janet Balaskas is a legendary figure in the active birth movement. Her Active Birth Centre offers comprehensive prenatal and antenatal yoga classes. If you need extra help after your class, a host of treatments is available, including postnatal breastfeeding support. The Centre’s classes are two hours long, gentle and flowing. You will be guided into a series of postures that are geared towards the birth day and active labour. The teachers aim to establish ‘body memory,’ which helps to assume an optimal birthing position spontaneously during labour.

5) Empowerment Through Choice

Yoga Birth provides prenatal, antenatal, baby yoga classes and workshops in London and the UK. The organization stems from the Active Birth movement. Their aim is to empower you through your pregnancy, respecting your individual choices. The class is two hours long. Expect a gentle flow, through seated and standing poses to relaxation. There is a big focus on poses, breath and movement helpful for labour itself. Tea, refreshments and pregnancy/birth orientated discussion at the end of the class is another benefit. It’s a great chance to make new friends and learn some juicy facts.

6) Yoga Bellies

Finally, our last recommendation would be Yoga Bellies, which is another very popular prenatal yoga class provider. The main theme being a community of mothers providing mutual support. The class is 75 minutes long and you can expect a combination of asana, breathing and relaxation.

So Many Prenatal Yoga Classes!

prenatal yoga classes
Image Credit: Bonbon on Flickr.

These are just a few selected examples – there are, of course, many more out there to look through (you’ll need more of these biscuits though). How do you choose the best one for you? Tossing a coin or a session with a psychic is an option. Yet, I’d suggest grabbing a cuppa and a piece of paper. Brainstorm:

  • Why do you want to do yoga? Is it for the physical preparation? For the meditation? Maybe just to meet some other mothers?
  • What kind of class do you prefer? Long classes once a week? Short classes twice a week? Strong? Gentle? Combined with birth preparation? Pure yoga? Community focused? Or maybe with some yummy snacks and discussion at the end?
  • Location? Will it still feel close enough in the last stages of pregnancy, when things get slower and heavier?
  • The Teacher? Do the teachers or the school resonate with you? Nothing is worse than a class with a person you don’t click with.
  • Extra Offers? Are postnatal or mum and baby classes available? Other treatments?

What If I Love Hot/Bikram Yoga?

The good news is there is a type of Bikram yoga created specifically for pregnancy. The bad news is, personally, I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my students. Want to know why? Have a look at my next post on Rajashree Pregnancy Yoga.

And Finally…

Breathe in through the nose and out through the nose. Shake out the legs and arms. Have a look at your list – time to Google your first pregnancy yoga class. One of the most uplifting parts of pregnancy yoga is the community of mothers it creates, so make sure you shop around to find the class that is the best fit for you.

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