Getting knocked-up doesn’t mean you have to hit the brakes on your exercise routine, but it might be time to look into a prenatal fitness regime. With that in mind, and with one of us having a (gluten-free) bun in the oven, we’re bringing you a series focusing on prenatal fitness classes around Toronto.
Unless all of your friends are pregnant at the same time, chances are you don’t get that many chances to crowd-source advice from a group of very excited, slightly uncomfortable, soon-to-be-mamas. Which is why we love that at 889 Yoga, you can bounce around a handful of prenatal fitness (and post natal) options, often running into the same pregnant women (or new mamas) from class to class.
Partially for the instructors to get to know each woman’s individual needs and in part for the women to get to know one another, classes generally open with each woman introducing herself, saying how far along she is, and whether she has any aches or pains that might be exacerbated by the movements in class. We have learned that walking around with a pregnant belly is an awkward invitation for any stranger to ask you about your body, but in a prenatal fitness class, it’s a welcome conversation starter.
In an effort to spend some time around other active pregnant women and to see how the workouts we love could be modified for the next several months, we tested out 889’s Mindful Mamma’s prenatal fitness series including Prenatal Yoga, Prenatal Barre, and Prenatal Pilates options.
We have tried to hold on to as many of our usual, non pre-natal classes as possible in this pregnancy, but quickly learned that yoga is something we couldn’t just modify in a regular class. Lowering into chaturanga dandasana with a belly? That’s a hard no. Sphinx, scorpion, or any other pose that requires lying on your stomach after about 13 weeks? Rule those out. Unless twisting still feels ok for you, expect to be doing a lot of staring at the front of the room while everyone else takes various side angle and triangle poses. So in an effort to keep up a yoga practice throughout the pregnancy, we headed to a prenatal class.
We’ve tried a few studios now and here’s the most important thing to know about prenatal yoga in general: If you’re someone who loves her sweaty vinyasa flow, know that this is not just a modified version of that. There is a lot less movement, a lot more gentle hip opening, a lot more restorative poses, and a lot more chatting.
What we loved was that the instructor was also pregnant which meant she knew firsthand which asanas we could or could not likely execute, and what would feel the best on achy bodies. Our first class included a surprise yoga nidra session which, once we gave in to the fact that yoga doesn’t always have to leave us sweaty and sore, provided a welcome relaxation.
We were definitely a bit skeptical going into this one, as modifying a regular barre class is something we can still comfortably do. But what we loved about this class was that the instructor didn’t handle us with kid gloves; she removed the ab work that we couldn’t do but kept the barre movements every bit as challenging and glute-burning as in a regular barre class. We left feeling sore in the best way.
Of all the classes we took, we were the most interested to see how a pilates mat class – a practice that focuses on core strength, often beginning with the famous Pilates 100 – could be modified to accommodate pregnant women. Our pilates class began with an extended myofascial release session before getting into the exercise portion of the class. Thankfully there was no attempt to have us do the 100 (and it was nice to be off our backs after all the myofascial work); instead we spent much of the workout standing, executing movements to work our smaller muscles and finding welcome a quad, hamstring and glute burn.