As I was preparing for prenatal training this past week, it took me back to when I was pregnant with my son.
When I became pregnant, I had a strong daily yoga practice of power, ashtanga and vinyasa styles, at least four days a week. Within weeks of being pregnant, my practice changed dramatically. I was considered high risk because of my age and medical conditions, and I was prescribed a take-it-easy approach to pregnancy that included scaling back my yoga practice.
I was crushed. I feared the loss of not only strength I had built, but also my overall health.
Then I discovered the world of prenatal yoga. This limb yoga changed my life. It made me want to be a yoga teacher, and it made me believe I could.
As with any other physical activity, you must be cleared by your doctor to practice prenatal yoga. The ancient art is modified and designed for the health of the expectant mother and her baby. In a prenatal yoga class, you should feel the love surrounding you and comfort on every level. If not, keep searching for the class that is right for you and your baby.
Prenatal classes are a great place to meet other expectant mothers and create bonds that could potentially last a lifetime. I remember one teacher saying that she didn’t mind if we came to class to “just come and breathe.” It’s about getting out, breathing and finding a community you can grow with.
So why take a prenatal yoga class? To help relieve stress, to become more flexible and to learn about how our bodies move as they begin to change. When you are caring for another human being inside of you, it’s double the chatter and double the stress. Prenatal yoga helps us learn to let go of our former selves, surrender expectation and body image and embrace the unknown. Letting go of mind chatter and listening to your body is the most important tool of yoga. In prenatal, it's twofold: You are connecting with your new growing body and the child growing within. As we rubbed our bellies, my beloved prenatal instructor Lisa Wilson of Yogani (who was also pregnant at the time) would say, “This is the closest we will all be to these little ones. Cherish every moment.” It’s so true.
Prenatal yoga ultimately helps us become stronger, more flexible and relieve stress and tension. Wilson and I were talking the other day about how profound the prenatal practice is. “It’s really what yoga is all about," she said. “The union, the yoking, is about the connection, and there is no more of a profound connection than having a human, a baby, growing inside of you.”
Here are a few poses to try with your physician's blessing:
Table, Cow, Cat. These transform you into a cradle and help the baby get into an optimal position. They soothe the mother and baby’s nervous systems.
: Try a reclined version of baddha konasana where you are fully propped up with a bolster and blocks.
: Supported by the wall or freestanding, deviasana helps strengthen the pelvic floor, arms, legs and spine.
Remember to do slow breath work: slow inhales and slow, controlled exhales. This breathing can be in through the nose and out through the nose or the mouth. It doesn’t matter as long as you concentrate on your breathing.
You might also try an upcoming workshop, Navigating Labor, held by my friend, my doula, massage therapist and Renaissance woman Annette Scott. The next workshop is Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at . It costs $20. Scott has helped hundreds of women and their significant others through pregnancy, labor and beyond. Don’t miss out on learning in a cool and comfortable setting from a cool and very comforting woman.
During your pregnancy, embrace help, embrace love, embrace yourself and the unknown future. Let yourself and your baby be cared for like the special people you are. You both deserve it.
Studios in the Tampa Bay area that offer prenatal yoga include:
- My Yoga RN, Lutz and Citrus Park (starting in September)
- Ahimsa Yoga & Wellness, Central Tampa (Tuesdays starting in September)
- Bella Prana, South Tampa
- Yogani, South Tampa
- The Lotus Room and The Lotus Pond, South Tampa and Carrollwood (starting in September)
- Asana Yoga of Brandon, Brandon (a four-week series starts Saturday and runs through Sept. 17, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays)
- Pure Yoga and Fitness, Clearwater
- Yoga Village, Clearwater
- Living Room Yoga, St. Petersburg
- Thank You Mama, St. Petersburg
- Satya Life Yoga, Lakeland