The Best Prenatal Yoga and Pilates Classes in Toronto

We live in an era in which fitness and sport in general have became a vital part of our lives. Most women know that exercise during pregnancy is safe. Yet when it comes to the particulars — Can I keep running? Should I stop working my abs? Should I keep my heart rate low? — different myths pop up. “There’s still a lot of fear out there that stops pregnant women from exercising,” says Sara Haley, a prenatal fitness trainer.

True Love by Arkansas ShutterBug
True Love by Arkansas ShutterBug
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Pregnancy is the ideal time to get active.Nowhere in the medical literature does it say that moderate exercise such as walking is unsafe, even for previously sedentary women,” says Raul Artal, M.D., chairman of the OB-GYN department at Saint Louis University in Missouri and lead author of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ guidelines on prenatal exercise.

Inactivity is the real health hazard. It contributes to weight gain, higher blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and higher risk for Caesarean section. A study shows that women with gestational diabetes and type II diabetes give birth to babies that are more likely to have problems with weight gain themselves and develop diabetes later in their lives. If you have no medical complications during your pregnancy, light exercise such as Pilates or yoga is strongly advised.You can achieve all the benefits with a moderate pace,” Artal says.

Fitness and Cardio

As a mom-to-be, you know how it feels to be carrying around some extra weight. What you have not experienced yet is the pace at which this will need to be done after your baby is born. Everything just gets super fast. Now you have all the time you want to lift shopping bags and put them in the car. Imagine you’re holding your crying baby in one hand and loading the car with the other. Did I mention it’s raining? Yoga and Pilates exercise will help you to strengthen your core muscles or your “inner corset” fitness and cardio will make you super fast. If you start today, by the time your little bundle of happiness is born, you will be lifting heavy stuff with ease.

Pregnant by Mahalie Stackpole
Pregnant by Mahalie Stackpole

According to prenatal and postnatal fitness expert Lindsay Brin, B.S.E., the most important muscles for expectant moms to strengthen are the core (primarily the abdominals and back), biceps, shoulders and quadriceps. “Simple movements like standing up from a chair or the floor with your baby in your arms require a powerful core and quadriceps,” she explains.

To get the most out of any exercise, you should do it three to four times a week with a one rest day between sessions. It’s good to combine a light fitness class with some strength training and Pilates or yoga classes. Following this scheme, your body will get a great workout, you will feel superb, and you will give birth to a baby with a strong heart and better health.

Pilates and Yoga

Your body undergoes a major change every trimester of your pregnancy. Each week you will discover a muscle or a muscle group that you had no idea existed before. It’s therefore a good idea to find an exercise that can help you stay fit and comfortable and that can help you gain the muscle strength you need. Often yoga and Pilates classes are recommended for pregnant women for several reasons.

“Pilates has the perfect recipe to keep you in shape throughout every trimester,” Jennifer Gianni, creator of the Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy. “Not only will it keep you strong and flexible, but it’s the perfect antidote to the discomforts associated with your pregnancy.”

Pilates and yoga both engage your deepest core muscles, pelvic floor, spine, and hips. Keeping those muscles strong and flexible is vital for the precious moments of giving birth. You will develop muscle strength and memory that will speed up the post-pregnancy healing and recovery process. “Prenatal yoga teaches a woman to connect more fully to the life growing within her,” says Sue Elkind, a certified anusara yoga instructor and the mother of two. What’s more, she says, “Childbirth requires a great deal of strength, stamina and focus; yoga helps you with all of this.”

Yoga by lululemon athletica
Yoga by lululemon athletica

A recent study of 74 first-time mothers found that those who did prenatal yoga or Pilates went through less pain and had shorter periods of labour.

As I mentioned, each trimester brings different challenges and therefore your workout should be composed of different moves so that you can get the most out of it. Remember to consult your doctor prior to any exercise.

1. First Trimester

Focus on: core strength, stamina, and muscle memory
It’s always best to start from the inside and it’s no different during pregnancy. You need to strengthen your inner muscles (those close to spine, pelvis, and abs) so that your muscles will support you like a corset. When your belly grows, you will feel significantly less lower back pain while you can still stand nicely upright with your head and chin up.

2. Second Trimester

Focus on: posture, balance, and core stability
Your belly is bigger than in the first trimester and will keep growing. To stay comfortable and at ease, choose moves that will keep your spine in a proper, neutral, upright position. Keep working your core muscles as well and to keep lower back and neck pain at bay.

3. Last Trimester

Focus on: flexibility, joint mobility, and labour preparation
Exercises and moves you should focus on during the third trimester are those that engage the pelvic floor muscles and spine muscles. Keeping them toned and strong will relieve discomfort and help you during labour.

Soon-to-be-moms can join one of the many courses offered in Toronto. Each studio is different and has its own pros and cons. Whichever program you choose in the end, make sure you consult with your doctor before getting into any physical activity.

 

Zen Beginnings

Zen Beginnings
Zen Beginnings

Zen Beginnings is the only studio in the city that offers yoga for babies through to adults. They have Prenatal Yoga, Yoga for moms and their babies, Itsy Bitsy Yoga for babies and toddlers with their caregiver, Kids, Tween, Teen and Family Yoga, as well as regular and specialized adult yoga and Pilates classes. If you wish to go to a class and you worry about where to leave your baby for a while, Zen Beginnings offers free babysitting during your class. “We try to support the whole family, and we try to go above and beyond to do so! It is also important to us to get to know each and every one of our clients and make them feel at home.” says Marina from Zen Beginnings. “There are MANY yoga studios in Toronto, and we wanted to be one in which families can take classes together. Our classes are small and intimate and each person receives a fair bit of personal attention from the instructor,” she continues.

Zen Beginnings Interior
Take a look inside the classes!

Pros:

  • Tranquil venue despite its central location
  • Certified instructors
  • Specialization in prenatal yoga and postnatal yoga
  • Complimentary yoga mat if you don’t have one
  • Great price/value
  • Great staff, ready to answer your questions and help you with everything

Cons:

  • Smaller studio (while this might be an advantage if you’re looking for smaller groups)

Address:

697 Mt Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4S 2N4

Neighbourhoods: Mount Pleasant and Davisville, Yonge and Eglinton

The studio is centrally located at Mount Pleasant by Eglinton. There are metered parking spots all around, and hour-long free parking on the inner streets before 4:00 P.M.

Toronto Yoga Mamas
Toronto Yoga Mamas

Toronto Yoga Mamas

Toronto Yoga Mamas is a local community devoted to prenatal and postnatal fitness and health. Founder of the studio, certified prenatal yoga instructor, and doula Jamie Kalynuik blends strengthening, stretching, and centring poses during her classes, which is why her classes have become so popular. Moreover, she creates a warm environment where soon-to-be moms can talk about their pregnancies and share valuable experience.

Pros:

  • Cozy, homey atmosphere
  • Light and airy studios
  • Specialization in prenatal yoga
  • Certified instructors
  • Various classes offered

Cons:

  • Usually there are only two classes taught per day
  • The space is shared with an art gallery so the studio is limited to specific hours. Therefore it's much better to visit the website for information and regular updates than just pop in.

Address:
1164 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON M4M 1L4

Neighbourhood: Leslieville

Liberty Movement
Liberty Movement Studio

Liberty Movement Studio

This studio is small and intimate and therefore allows more one-on-one attention to make sure that you’re getting every move right. Liberty movement studio happily supplies mats and balls for your personal use. The owner and primary teacher, Elle, is certified Pilates and yoga instructor with endless list of awards and doula as well so you will surely feel safe in her arms. All classes begin with a little talk during which expecting moms can share their experiences.

We were the first yoga studio in Liberty Village and have been serving the community for nine years,” says Jana from Liberty Movements. They have small class sizes and are located within Balance Integrated Healthcare, a holistic practitioner centre that has a vast amount to offer from chiropractic, naturopathic, massage and shiatsu to acupuncture. “In Liberty Movement Studio, we believe in yoga and Pilates as ways to heal or promote healthy lifestyle. In other words as a choice in life — not a quick fix to becoming thin.

Pros:

  • Small, sunlit studios
  • Certified instructors
  • Complimentary yoga mat if you don’t have one
  • Great diversity of classes
  • Great staff, ready to answer your questions and help you with everything

Cons:

  • Smaller studio (while this might be an advantage if you’re looking for a cozy atmosphere)


Address:
171 Liberty Street East, Unit 110
Located in Balance Integrated Healthcare
Toronto, ON M6K 3P6

Neighbourhood: Liberty Village

One Response

  1. I think Pilates and Yoga is the perfect exercise for pregnant women because it focuses on core strengths and proper postures which they need when carrying a child.

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