Yoga and Physical Therapy share a common goal: to: help one gain strength, flexibility and balance to move more optimally.
Prenatal yoga is an increasingly popular option for exercise during pregnancy, because it feels gentle and safe. There is a level of confidence that instructors are specifically trained to work with the pregnant body, vs a typical group exercise class where instructors may not be educated in prenatal precautions or modifications. There is also a sense of comradery among women who are going through the same struggles at the same time.
Prenatal yoga is a great option for maintaining or gaining mobility, body awareness, and balance. Some yoga classes will also incorporate core and hip strengthening, which is a necessity for the pregnant body to stay pain-free through the third trimester!
So why see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist for prenatal yoga training?
Physical Therapists are your “doctors of movement”. We complete a rigorous 3 year doctoral program on all movement systems of the human body – musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, respiratory, and nervous systems being a primary focus. We are also trained to identify and treat specific movement disorders and pain conditions throughout the lifespan.
Pelvic Floor Therapists (PFPTs) complete additional training on the structures of the pelvis and abdomen, including the urogenital, reproductive and digestive systems (bladder, uterus, bowel, etc.). Most importantly we specialize in the pelvic floor muscles and deep core system that control your trunk and house your baby as it grows, then participate in the tremendous work of getting your baby OUT and returning your body to “normal” after pregnancy.
As doctors of movement and specialists in pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions, PFPTs stand in the perfect position to assess your changing movement patterns as you progress through pregnancy; to assess and reassess as your body grows and morphs into a completely new form over 9-10 months. We are the ones who are best equipped to spot inefficiencies and breakdowns and show you how to correct, modify or enhance your practice to maximize the effectiveness and minimize injury. A PFPT who is ALSO a certified prenatal yoga instructor will have the broadest and deepest knowledge and skill in making your prenatal yoga practice the best tool it can possibly be. (Click here to meet our resident pro, Dr. Kelsey Kreider, DPT!)
If you already regularly practice yoga on your own or with an instructor, you may wonder why you should switch it up to practice with a pelvic PT. Seeing a PFPT for yoga training doesn’t have to replace your regular class or home practice – it can be done as an adjunct or enhancement to your regular practice. You can continue to participate in your regular weekly classes, but getting under the eye and hand of a PFPT 1-2 times/month can give you the added confidence that you are moving efficiently and safely.
Group instructors don’t always have the time or training to make specific modifications for every person or situation. Your PFPT does have that training. If she spots something in a group session that needs further attention, you already know where to go to fix it – a private PT session with that same PFPT! She can also communicate with your regular instructor to help you utilize your group classes to carry out your physical therapy plan.
Another reason to participate in a yoga class with a PFPT is her expansive and detailed knowledge on the pelvic floor and core muscles themselves. At SHEFitPT, our PFPTs specialize in preparing your body for birth by directly training and preparing your core and pelvic floor – your pelvic floor muscle mobility and strength, your deep abdominal strength, and your coordination with the pelvic floor, abdominals, and diaphragm to facilitate effective and efficient pushing and minimize trauma during labor. We also direct your training and coordination of these muscles to reduce pain and increase your comfort with all your activities throughout pregnancy.
As an added bonus, all this prenatal training makes your postnatal recovery much easier!
Deep familiarity, awareness, and control of the pelvic floor, abdominal and back muscles paired with the active breath work and relaxation training found in yoga movements can help you prepare for early and active labor, when you need to harness the power of mind over body to cope with the discomfort of contractions.
Lastly, if you have a preexisting condition like prolapse or chronic pelvic pain, a PFPT is the best person to help you navigate any modifications you might need for your specific condition.
Working with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist in a prenatal yoga program will facilitate your knowledge and confidence, giving you tools to better connect with the pelvic floor and core muscles, as well as keep your pregnant body mobile and strong.
A Physical Therapist can provide a safe environment to practice yoga, regardless of your level of experience and potential prenatal challenges. Our own PFPT+yoga instructor Dr. Kelsey can offer both group training (Saturdays at 9am in our Mission Valley office), as well as individualized and private training sessions, utilizing guided movement through yoga asanas that support the rapidly changing body as it moves through pregnancy. She can provide modifications based on your individual needs, integrating focused breath mechanics related to pelvic floor and abdominal wall function, as well as posture and body awareness.
Dr. Kelsey will ensure you feel confident that your yoga practice is safe for your body and your baby while also providing tools for labor and birth!
To book a group class (Saturday mornings at 9am), click here!
For individual assessment or private sessions, call our office or click here.