Yoga during Pregnancy with Eliza Hayward

One of the most inspirational yogis I’ve met, both for her divine, nurturing way of teaching her flows, to her commitment to all aspects of yoga on & off the mat… it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Eliza, owner of Divine Flow Yoga & sweet friend.

I became hooked on Eliza’s classes immediately after moving to the northern beaches & the sanctuary her & her husband created at Divine Flow.

A new mumma herself, Eliza gave birth to her beautiful baby girl Indiana last year! Watching her graceful transformation through pregnancy & motherhood has been incredibly helpful for my own journey, so it made complete sense for me to turn to her when it came to all things prenatal yoga – especially as we navigate these uncertain times where we are practising at home. I can’t for you to read & soak in her honesty & wisdom. You’ll see why I love her!


Tell us a bit about yourself…

I began my yoga journey over ten years ago. I fell in love with the physical practice but was in awe of the mindfulness and stillness that rippled into all facets of life. I created Divine Flow Yoga and immersed myself in the growth of the business, which resulted in me leaving the corporate world in 2017. Now mum to Indiana, I am truly thankful for leaning into this journey and following my passion of yoga and meditation. Indiana is so lucky to be surrounded by a beautiful community at the studio!!

My husband, Andrew and I built and created the studio you see today in Brookvale with the vision to make it feel earthy, grounded and warm. A place of transformation, deep rest, awakening and nourishment. We lead  retreats as far as the Maldives, Bali and Blue Mountains NSW.

The holistic journey continues as I pave the way to bring more joy, freedom and transformation to my coaching clients both on and off the mat. 


What are the benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy?

I personally loved continuing my practice whilst pregnant. I practiced from about 13 weeks right through to 38 weeks. For me it felt really natural to stay active and whilst there are many benefits I will highlight what was notable for my journey. 

  • I loved maintaining my strength and flexibility through vinyasa, pilates, slow flow & yin
  • I suffered from sciatica pain and I got a lot of relief from yin and slow flow. 
  • I meditated daily to reduce any nerves, stress or anxiety 
  • I found by focusing on breath during class really helped prepared me for my birth – as it is a powerful tool during labour


Which poses are most beneficial during pregnancy and why?

  • Wide knee childs pose ~ If you are familiar with yoga you may already know the deep restoration and grounding of this shape. I describe it as “coming home to the body” The bigger your belly grows the more heavier so anything to take a bit of pressure off is … well, lovely! 
  • Legs up the wall ~ A remedy to alleviate swelling in the legs. I loved having a blanket under my hips and head. There will be a point in your pregnancy where you will no longer feel comfortable lying on your back for longer periods. So to release the swelling in my legs I kept massaging to increase the circulation. 
  • Downward Facing Dog ~ Great to keep up your strength, release tension in your neck and soothe the hamstrings. I loved using a calming breath and if needed exhaling out of the mouth
  • Cat & Cow ~ Ease and movement of the spine. During pregnancy your body is often changing and this gentle flossing is a great way to scan the body through these two rotations and help guide baby in an optimal position. 


Are there specific poses pregnant women should avoid? 

  • Twisting along the midline like twisted chair (A more gentler and accessible twist whilst pregnant is an easy twist with a block under your hand. 
  • Avoid lying on your back for longer periods of time 
  • Stick to your more subtle and calm breaths during pranayama avoid any retention and kapalabhati which is rapid inhales and exhales. 
  • It goes without saying, lying on your belly after the first trimester

This is a time to nurture yourself. Soften into your practice as it may change weekly be very flexible to adapt your practice to your body and baby’s needs. I practiced very intuitively to my needs and if that meant not doing something in a class. I would find something similar or rest in childs pose.


If a mumma-to-be was to do one or a few poses each day, what would you recommend? 

I would recommend combining a few poses that flow into each other such as: Cat & Cow | Childs Pose | Cat & Cow | Downward Facing Dog | depending on your energy a gentle Sun Salutation | Take Savasana with legs up the wall 


Was there any particular practice on or off the mat you found particularly useful during your own pregnancy? 

I meditated daily both prenatal specific and my own practice. It really helped me to harness my breath and shape positive thoughts to prepare for such a calm and natural birth. During labour my breaths were so long, meditative and deep. My husband Andrew described my exhalation during labour as “primal, like they had an energy to them”.  

Not long after my birth and my baby girl was in my arms my Midwife Karen chuckled “well that was incredible all that yoga really paid off” 


Any advice on returning to yoga after giving birth?

Oh sweet mumma! Do not rush! Wrap yourself in this sacred time of healing and connecting. Give yourself permission. 

I did not return to my practice until 8 weeks. I arrived on my mat just needing rest so I came back to YIN and I felt like I was still pregnant. I felt my core soft so whilst lying on my back it would actually give me a little bit of discomfort in my lower back so I would roll off to my side OR I would take savasana on my side. This was honouring part of my recovery. Before I moved into any flows I went to a women’s physio around 8 weeks post birth to receive a full assessment of my pelvic floor & core. 

I would start practising at home – I know there is no real routine at this point but whenever you have the space I would be opening up my shoulders and chest to alleviate the rounding that comes with breastfeeding for new mothers. 


What offerings do you have at Divine Flow for pregnant and post-natal women?

  • We offer prenatal yoga classes on our timetable including Mum & Bub
  • Online pre and post natal pilates classes
  • Online pre and post natal yoga classes
  • Including meditations you can do whilst breast or bottle feeding baby
  • We hold Sacred Mothers Groups including post natal yoga and meditation. An opportunity to meet like minded mums and feel nourished during these tender times. 

Follow Divine Flow on:

Instagram: @divineflow_yoga


Youtube: Divine Flow Yoga