Debunking Myths About Pregnancy Yoga

Wanderlust Wayfarer Maggie James shares his life changing story on how yoga saved his life. Read more on her website.


1. First of all, how are you feeling as you are due any day?

The full cocktail of emotions. Excited, like when you’re looking forward to Christmas as a child, but also relishing the freedom I still have these last few days; naturally a bit scared of pain and praying for no complications.

2. Are you still practicing and teaching?

Yes. I’ve not ruled out teaching on my due date (in a week). My practice has gradually slowed down; now at 9 months I still go to a few of my favourite classes but I mainly alternate between cat cow variations and just doing the arm movements to most poses while seated in some way or other!

3. How has your practice changed since the first trimester? What are the exercises you added or eliminated?

I’m taking it slow but still having a lot of fun! The first asanas to go were any where you put all your weight on the belly. Locust and bow pose did not feel right from around 8 weeks. Deep twists and breath retention & forceful (‘fire’) breathing are also advisable to avoid from the early on as well as inversions that I am not rock solid in without support from a wall or teacher.

Although now I’m 7.5 months pregnant and take things slowly, I’m still planning to go and do my own thing at my teacher’s day retreat, just 4 days before my due date!

4. Could you debunk the myths about yoga being a no-no for pregnant women?

This is a bit tricky. There hasn’t been much scientific research done in the area as experimenting on pregnant women is a no-go; besides that ‘yoga’ spans from meditation to circus acrobatics, so I cannot confidently make a blanket statement about yoga during pregnancy. However, scientific evidence shows that staying active, as long as it feels good in the body, is supportive of healthy pregnancies and births, and the baby. The theory is that this helps prepare the baby’s fitness for birth as baby’s heart would have already experienced times when it needs to work a bit harder than usual. They call it labour for a reason!

Key rules are:
a) don’t do anything new that your body isn’t used to
b) listen to your body more than ever
c) be aware of your ego, and if ever in doubt, ask yourself why you want to do an asana you’re not sure about, what value would it bring and is there maybe another way of not taking a risk and getting the same value.

5. Does yoga help you to establish deeper emotional connection with your baby during pregnancy?

Absolutely. Yoga is essentially around connection beyond your own ego, connecting to your breath, and your deeper self, and connecting to others as part of a larger whole. I cannot imagine a truer connection to an ‘other’ than when that other is growing inside you. My feeling is that baby loved it when I was practicing and especially teaching cause I rocked him to sleep with walking around and my voice being more projected, steady and continuous than normal.

6. If a woman isn’t pregnant just yet, but is planning or trying, is it worth attending prenatal classes?

This is entirely up to personal preference and interest, however, I found the biggest value in prenatal classes in that it helped me prepare a slightly different type of breathing and to let go of muscles that are tighter and that I’d normally engage in normal yoga classes.

7. One piece of advice for expecting mamas who are in doubt about incorporating yoga into their prenatal routine?

I have not had any back pain my entire pregnancy, and it is thanks to regular yoga before and during pregnancy. Try it more than once. Just like with any exercise or yoga, there is a huge variety in pregnancy classes, so ask around as much as possible through other moms and studio managers on which teacher they recommend for your level and interest, and don’t judge the entirety of ‘pregnancy yoga’ based on just one or two classes.

If you are new to yoga, I would ONLY recommend trying out various pregnancy classes, rather than regular ones.

If you are an experienced yogi, look for senior teachers of regular classes who have kids themselves as well as vast experience of how to adjust for safe pregnancy practice.

8. Your favourite asana in the third trimester (except for savasana)?

Puppy pose resting on my upper arms, forearms raised in prayer and resting on my shoulders. Heart openers, rotating the arms around the shoulder socket in whatever variation like cactus arms, cat cow and its variations.

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Maggie teaches Jivamukti Yoga and aims to share the joy and peace of mind and body that yoga gives her. Coming from a background in engineering management she loves the creative and mindful freedom she experiences in yoga, and is also keen to understand yoga’s scientific background and how it can help us. She encourages students to be similarly forever curious, question and try a variety of ways to practice and continue in the direction where they find growth and benefit. In her open level classes you can expect a dynamic and grounding sequence, an inspiring soundtrack, hands on assists and a focus on listening to your body and mind.  Connect with on her website.

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