How is Prenatal Yoga Different that “Regular” Yoga?

Article by Eve Sengkeo

With so many different styles of yoga, it’s becoming quite tricky to keep track of the various practices. These days, when someone refers to yoga, they can refer to a cardio practice or a breathing meditative practice. Big difference!

As a prenatal yoga teacher at one of largest hospitals in the Washington DC metropolitan area, I’ve observed the ever-evolving forms of yoga classes offered to employees and the local community.

The most common question I’m asked by non-prenatal yoga teachers (and yogis) is what the main difference is between prenatal and other forms of yoga.

Image by Khusen Rustamov

First, what is “regular” yoga considered anyway?

Depending on the location and individual, “regular” yoga can be a form of Hatha yoga. In highly active and health conscious cities like Los Angeles, a “typical” yoga class is probably in reference to a power yoga class.

Either way, prenatal yoga classes are rarely referenced as “regular” yoga classes you can find at the gym. So let’s break it down by differentiating between prenatal and “regular” yoga (or other forms of yoga).

Note, each trimester allows for varying ranges of movements that are comfortable for the students. Where some students seem to be able to hold any pose throughout all stages of the pregnancy (prenatal sequenced or not) with ease, others have a trickier time doing child’s pose in their first trimester.

Thus, there are countless differences between prenatal and other yoga classes, including variations within prenatal yoga styles.

Here are 3 major differences between prenatal and other forms of yoga classes:

1. Twists: Due to the tension on the back, particularly the lumbar spine, prenatal yoga tends to steer clear of closed twists. Thus, I typically do not cue “prayer twists” or any type of movement that may lead to added strain to the lower back.

2. Backbends: As sun salutation sequences involve upward facing dog, that’s not the case for prenatal yoga. In an effort to protect the spine. Poses like an upward facing dog and came are typically avoided. For instance, a modified sun salutation sequence would be chattarunga dandasana directly to child’s pose.

3. Breathwork: In many forms of yoga, there is a lot of transition from standing to floor poses. This includes many transitions between standing poses such as uttanansana to half way lifts back to uttanasana. The transitions in typical vinayasa flows are not common in prenatal yoga.

As you can imagine, all the up and down movement can make morning sickness feel worse. So the focus tends to be on breathing.

As always, in order to minimize risks for workout injuries, it’s important for students to listen to their bodies. Pregnant or not, a pose that can easily be done on one day is not necessarily the case for the next day!

Eve Sengkeo
Eve Sengkeo

Eve Sengkeo, RYT is a prenatal and Hatha yoga teacher. Her passion is helping busy women achieve holistic wellness through yoga and energy healing. You can read all about her setbacks, comebacks, and all the lessons learned in between on her website SilverLinedDays.com. Welcome to connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SilverLinedDays/.

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