Jamie has been practicing Bikram Yoga for nearly 9 years. She has practiced regularly through her first, and now second pregnancy.
As a registered nurse with an M.D. husband, read how she made her decision to keep practicing Bikram Yoga while pregnant.
Q: What were the main benefits you received by maintaining a steady practice while pregnant?
A: Before I was pregnant, my yoga practice kept me fit and calm. I found that once I was pregnant the benefits were the same. Practicing helped me maintain my physical strength through the entirety of my pregnancy. I haven’t experienced any back pain with either pregnancy and have been able to carry the weight well. I haven’t had my second baby yet, but when I labored with my first, the breathing practices from Bikram translated directly into the delivery room. I am now seven days away from my due date and still have not experienced any swelling in my ankles. I know that the heat in the room during class has helped with my circulation and kept swelling and varicose veins at bay. It’s no secret that Bikram is challenging, but that challenge has helped me build my perseverance. The practice has made me feel calm and centered even when I’m chasing my toddler and anticipating the changes that will come with our new baby. With so much going on, Bikram gave me the time to connect with my baby and be mindful of the physical changes I was going through.
Q: Most doctors are concerned about exercising in a high heat environment like Bikram Yoga. What did you find out, and what made you feel comfortable continuing to practice? Did your husband and doctor share their concerns? What got them comfortable?
A: People are understandably concerned when there hasn’t been a published study proving the safety of something during pregnancy. My husband and I were similarly worried with my first pregnancy and so researched the topic extensively before I continued my practice. What we realized was that hot yoga was getting lumped in with getting in a hot tub or having a high grade fever, but the difference we found with Bikram was that sweating allowed me to maintain my core body temperature within one degree. The first few times I got back on the mat after conceiving the first time, I brought a thermometer with me. Having data on my own body validated everything we found in our research. Aside from my own research, I have watched so many women carry their practice through their pregnancies and give birth to happy Bikram Yoga babies, so that only increased my comfort. Now that I’m pregnant with my second, I also have the reassurance of my first child’s robust health.
Q: How did you modify your practice during your pregnancy, and how often did you practice?
A: Whether I’m pregnant or not, I try to practice three times a week. In terms of modifying my practice, I took it easy during my first trimester. If I was feeling really fatigued or nauseous, I let myself off the hook. On days where I was feeling up to practicing, I found a lot of comfort in my instructor’s extensive knowledge about modifications. There is such a culture at Pure Bikram of supporting mothers, particularly through offering babysitting and showing how to safely practice through all stages of pregnancy.
Q: Can you contrast your practice between your first and second pregnancies?
A: They were actually really similar for me, which has been reassuring. With so many changes on the horizon, it’s nice to have some things be exactly as you expect!
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share with your fellow moms and new moms?
A: The most important piece of advice I have is to listen to your body. If you are tired, take a break. If a pose doesn’t feel comfortable, ask your instructor for modifications or just sit it out. Having an established practice gave me the confidence to use my common sense about what was right for me.
I appreciate Bikram Yoga even more when I’m pregnant. My body has changed so much, and practicing has kept me relaxed and feeling good rather than impatient with the process.