For years I’ve been asked “What’s the difference between a yoga class modified for pregnancy and a prenatal yoga class?
I believe it comes down to the intention of the class. A prenatal yoga class is specifically designed for pregnant folks whereas a yoga class where the teacher includes safe modifications for those who are pregnant is a class that anyone can join; it isn’t specifically for pregnancy.
So which class should you choose?
In my opinion, it comes down to what you are hoping to get out of it.
Prenatal Yoga Classes
Why might a pregnant person choose to attend a prenatal yoga class?
A dedicated prenatal yoga class can offer a sense of community, which is often so appreciated in a time of tremendous change and upheaval in a person’s life. It also offers yoga poses that support the path to a well balanced body which may make labor and birth easier.
In a prenatal yoga class the asanas (yoga poses) are used as a tool with multiple functions. On a very practical level, the poses can help alleviate daily aches and pains associated with pregnancy. On a more finessed level, poses can be offered to help balance the pelvic floor, add strength and stability to the pelvis, and help release tension often held in the psoas (the “runway” for baby into the pelvis).
In our classes at the Prenatal Yoga Center, we interweave Childbirth Education themes into each session. This adds to deepening the knowledge about childbirth and bolstering the confidence of the students. While many people do attend individual childbirth preparation classes, it can be overwhelming to take all that information in with just a few classes. We offer small, bite size pieces of knowledge alongside an exploration of coping skills so it’s easy to digest and comprehend.
Lastly, a dedicated prenatal yoga class is taught by a certified prenatal yoga teacher who has either a 200 hour or 500 hour Teacher Training background along with a separate prenatal yoga teacher training certificate. Prenatal Yoga Center’s teachers complete and graduate from a rigorous program that prepares them for intelligent sequencing for the pregnant body as well as addressing the many issues that arise in class daily (like sacroiliac pain, symphysis pubic dysfunction, breech babies, placenta previa, acid reflux, and so many more common pregnancy ailments)!
Yoga Classes Modified for Pregnancy
This type of class is often taught by a teacher who has completed a 200 hr or 500 hr certification and may or may have additional prenatal education. The teacher, themselves, may have been pregnant and learned modifications for their body, but that does not mean those modifications can apply to all bodies.
A yoga class with pregnancy safe modifications often leads you through a class the general public is taking while the teacher shares alternative poses to those that are not that pregnancy-appropriate.
For those not looking for a perinatal community, additional childbirth education, and specific pregnancy-tailored sequences, a general class may serve your desire to maintain a practice similar to the one you had prior to pregnancy. Those who stay in their previous class may also feel an attachment to the community at that particular studio.
One additional consideration when attending a pregnancy modified class is: if the teacher has not received training about the pelvic floor, the class may inadvertently make your pelvic floor more tense, which can make birth more challenging. If the teacher is focused more on flexibility, “hip opening” poses and encouraging mula bandha (root lock- often taught to be similar to a kegel) then the result can be an overly engaged pelvic floor.
Which Class Should You Choose?
There is no right or wrong answer to which class you should go to. Both classes have benefits. It’s just a matter of what you are looking for in a yoga class. I would recommend thinking about what you want out of class to help you decide where to unroll your mat.
To book one of our prenatal yoga classes, click the link below!
What kind of childbirth education can I hope to learn from a prenatal yoga class?
At the Prenatal Yoga Center, we cover topics such as pain coping skills, information on the anatomy of childbirth, as well as other tips that are helpful during labor.
Does a prenatal yoga class cover pelvic floor training?
The poses that we teach in our classes help balance the pelvic floor ensuring that it is neither not too tight nor too loose. We also aim to release tension from the psoas muscle so that the body is ready for labor and childbirth.
Do I need to tell my yoga teacher that I am pregnant?
If you are not specifically attending a prenatal yoga class, then you should tell your yoga teacher that you’re pregnant. This is to ensure that the teacher can give you correct and safe modifications for pregnancy. The other reason it’s important to inform them is that your yoga teacher may not be qualified to teach a pregnant person yoga, in which case you will need to make the modifications on your own.