If you're reading this, someone has told you that prenatal yoga is a good idea. What did they tell you? Most likely they wanted you to feel relaxed, and maybe find a more restful sort of exercise than the six miles you usually run on a daily basis.
Well, great! Prenatal yoga offers some time for relaxation and is indeed less vigorous than running or power yoga. But what are you actually going to get out of it?
When I started teaching prenatal yoga, my answers were: mental preparation, physical strength, and a sense of community. I wasn't totally wrong! Here are what some of my prenatal clients have mentioned.
Companionship: if you are the first of your group of friends to get pregnant, or if you are far away from your closest friends and family, you will enjoy getting to know women who are a few months ahead of you. Not only do you get a preview of what to expect in the next several months, you might even make friends that will support you. And then, of course, you'll end up helping the next group who are a few months behind you.
Mental preparation: I know, I know, you're already mentally prepared for childbirth. Oh, you're not? Well I offer a special physical exercise that helps you prepare for what you might experience during labor. No, we don't simulate labor. And yes, some childbirth preparation classes offer the “hand in the ice bucket” or “safety pin on the ear” exercises, but you only do them once. Each time you attend a prenatal yoga class I put you in a safe yet uncomfortable place and ask you to stay there for several minutes. Each time you go through this exercise, you learn more about how YOU cope with discomfort and pain, what techniques you've learned are helpful and which are less helpful. Do you like to move when you're in pain? Be touched? Talk? Turn inwards? Come and find out. Also, for the record, this is the portion of the class that everyone notes after baby was born as the most important.
Physical strength: It isn't all about relaxation, your body is training for the marathon of labor and childbirth. Rather than relaxing and “saving up” your energy, you need to move (unless your provider recommends otherwise). We use specific exercises to build strength that you will use during pushing. Keep coming to yoga until your provider tells you not to! Most women practice all the way through their pregnancy and are then much more physically ready for the work of labor.
Connection: Some women instantly feel connected to their baby(ies), but most do not. Whether your pregnancy was planned or a surprise, it is important for you to spend time communicating with your baby, or opening up lines of communication. And I'm not a crazy yoga lady telling you that; your baby is affected by your hormones, your emotional response, and your stress. You don't decide when labor starts, your baby does. We spend several minutes in class opening up to this new relationship.
Information: Whether you're learning where the other participants got great deals on their cribs or asking me questions about childbirth or breastfeeding, this is an unparalleled resource of information. The internet is an ocean of details and conflicting information, and sometimes it can be quite scary. I've attended many births, read most childbirth education books, met many local birth professionals, and am pursuing my certified lactation educator credential. While I don't know it all, I'm determined to help you find the answers to your questions (without scaring the bejebus out of you).
Massage: This side perk is probably the reason that most women come back week after week. I'll teach you some techniques to work with a partner to relieve the discomforts of pregnancy, but I also offer a brief shoulder/neck rub during the last several minutes of class.
But what are the benefits of Mom & Me Yoga?
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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Yogini's Favorite Prenatal Tips
Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this process with you. You're stronger than you think you are.