Props in pregnancy yoga are essential – here’s why.

Are you skeptical of using props in pregnancy yoga like I was? Read on.

Okay, real talk here. When I first started yoga I thought yoga props were a cheat. As if by using them you were somehow ‘not doing it properly’. That of course was an opinion all caught up in ego and came from the belief that yoga poses were something to be achieved, instead of being experienced or felt.

Fast forward through multiple pregnancies, 3 babies, losses, Mum life burn out and all the rest; yoga is now my therapy. It’s THE practise that I always return to when life gets tough, and it’s something I use to support me, rather than something I need to strive to do.

Yoga props are now my best friend. It wasn’t until I really needed the support of a prop during pregnancy yoga classes that I realised how important they actually are to the practice. I also realised that using props can help you get MORE out of the practice rather than less.

Props help you to access poses when you body isn’t able to. This is often true during pregnancy and in particular the 3rd trimester when your body feels large and cumbersome.

Why you need to use props in pregnancy yoga classes

Props help you to completely relax

Pregnancy is exhausting. When you’re practising pregnancy yoga you want to be able to completely let go and relax. Yoga props often mean the difference between discomfort and total relaxation. I always ask my students to collect a range of props before class and always try the prop options I give to see if they work for them. You can always remove them later if they don’t work for you.

Learning how to completely relax is an important skill to learn when you’re pregnant. During birth we want to be able to reserve all our energy for contractions and therefore we need to use the breaks between contractions for total rest. If you’ve practised this throughout your pregnancy during yoga, you’ll be more likely to be able to do this when you need.

The following poses are perfect for practising total relaxation.

Savasana with bolsters
Reclined butterfly
Forward fold on bolster

Props help you to avoid injuries

During pregnancy the body releases the hormone relaxin to help the pelvis open in order to allow the baby to pass through during birth. Unfortunately this also makes all of the other joints in thebody prone to opening as well. It is important to not stretch too far during pregnancy yoga to avoid injuries. Props in pregnancy yoga classes can be used to help support the body and stop it from stretching too much.

The following poses are examples of props used to support during pregnancy yoga.

Pigeon pose with bolster support
Warrior 2

Props can help you to calm your nervous system

Pregnancy is a time of massive change. Your body, your relationships, your work, your life as you know it is being completely flipped upside down. It’s unsurprising then that your nervous system (your stress system) is often heightened during pregnancy.

It’s really important to have ways to manage this stress, and using yoga props during your pregnancy yoga class is a way to supercharge your practise.

Generally, adding weight to your body will help to calm the nervous system. Eg. Using a weighted blanket or a sandbag on the low back during child’s pose. Adding a bolster underneath the chest during child’s pose can also help you bring down an anxious nervous system.

Bolster under chest in child’s pose.

Props can be used to help build strength

Often when we think of pregnancy yoga, we think of stretching – not building strength. But pregnancy yoga does (or should do) both. It’s important to build strength to support the ligaments and joints that are loosening, and to maintain good posture which helps with pregnancy aches and pains.

Stronger yoga poses in pregnancy yoga classes also helps us to practise feeling uncomfortable sensations in the body, which is an excellent way to prepare for birth. The following poses are strengthening and are great preparations for birth.

Squat using the wall as a prop.
Block between knees in bridge pose

Props can help you to keep practising all the way to birth (and beyond)

As your body becomes increasingly uncomfortable in the late 3rd trimester, it can be tempting to stop practising yoga entirely. But this is often when we need yoga the most. Props can help you to continue practising yoga comfortably (and safely) right up until you give birth.

Chairs and multiple bolsters are props I lean on heavily when teaching yoga to women in the third trimester. These
props are also great when working with women who have babies in a breech or posterior position and who are wanting to help baby move into a more optimum position.

Inversion to help a breech baby to turn.
third trimester back pain
Lunge with blocks.

I’d like to encourage you now to go and try these yoga poses with the props for yourself. And remember – props can help you to get more out of your yoga practise – not less! What’s your favourite prop for pregnancy yoga?

Are you brand new to pregnancy yoga? Download my free guide here. Or try this pregnancy yoga class using a chair below.

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