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How Prenatal Yoga Changed My Life (For A While)

By Rebecca Odes |

yoga momsI was never really into yoga. Well, I liked the idea of yoga. But the reality?

Before I was pregnant, yoga class was an aspirational experience.I am many things, but Stretch Armstrong isn’t one of them. Thus I would spend a good portion of most classes being “adjusted” by teachers with varying levels of tolerance for inflexibility. Sometimes the adjustments were gentle and supportive. Other times, the teachers seemed downright pissed off that a person with such pathetic tissue control would set foot on a yoga mat. The foot thing, too was a problem. I take a certain amount of care with my physical appearance, but let’s just say my priorities don’t start at the bottom of my body. Who has time for constant pedicuring? There was more than one time I skipped a yoga class for shame of the state of my feet.

But still, I liked the idea. And when I got pregnant, I was eager to give the prenatal version of yoga a try.

Well, my first class was a disaster. I was expecting gentle stretches and collective belly appreciation, based on a video I’d seen. But from day one, it was clear that this class was not letting pregnant women off easy.

I had heard great things about this yoga studio and its great prenatal teacher.  But what I didn’t know is that this studio was famous for being hardcore. How were these women able to do this?  My legs were shaking after 20 minutes. I got a little bit dizzy. I almost gave up. I was sore for two days after the first class.

But something kept me coming back. The teacher was amazing. Besides being a superstar prenatal yoga teacher, she was a prenatal massage therapist and birth doula. She read to the class from Ina May Gaskin’s new (at the time) book and discussed her personal experiences with pregnancy and birth. She bolstered our confidence about the capability and power of women’s bodies.

And it worked. Despite my aching quads, I was compelled: If these women were strong enough to do these poses through pregnancy, maybe I could get strong enough too. I went back.  After a couple of weeks, I was doing the class easily. (Well, not easily, but easily enough.) Then I was hooked. The yoga made me feel great, powerful and strong and capable.  I went as often as I could for the rest of my pregnancy.

I met other women due around the same time; we went out for lunch and talked pregnancy complaints. I got to do big-bellied sun salutations along with three of my girlhood movie star idols: Molly Ringwald, Jennifer Connelly and Brooke Shields. Not all on the same day.  But still, this was strangely satisfying. The most satisfying part of prenatal yoga, though, was what it did to my body and my mind. I went to that first class feeling unsure of my ability. I walked out of my last class, two days before giving birth, feeling ready for anything.

See my breakdown of 10 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga for more on the good yoga can do during pregnancy.

photo: Lululemon Athletica/flickr

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About Rebecca Odes


Rebecca Odes

Rebecca Odes is a writer, artist and mother. She was inspired to write her blog, From The Hips, during her first pregnancy when she discovered every pregnancy book she came across made her feel anxious or irritated. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

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0 thoughts on “How Prenatal Yoga Changed My Life (For A While)

  1. Abby says:

    I’m curious, where did you find these rigorous yoga classes? I have a video I love but many of the class I’ve tried don’t seem like enough of a challenge. I’m NYC-based. Thanks!

  2. Rebecca says:

    The class was at Jivamukti, but the teacher (Mia Borgatta) has moved to Lila Yoga in the East Village. It looks like she still has classes daily:

  3. Rebecca says:

    (also keep in mind that my idea of rigorous came from a fairly non-athletic perspective!)

  4. Yoga Certification says:

    Yoga in pregnancy is quite helpful for mothers as well as the child.

  5. Abby says:

    Great, thanks so much for posting a response. I’ll check it out!

  6. Laurie says:

    Do you know when’s a good time to start pre-natal yoga? I’m just about 11 weeks and have been pretty conservative to get to the 3 month mark safely.

  7. lela says:

    i teach prenatal yoga in the Chicago area and i recommend women start after their nausea has passed or once you’ve gotten past the 10 week mark, whichever comes first. i appreciate this blog posting about the value of a more rigorous yoga class for pregnant women- i think of it is a preparation for the marathon of labor and delivery, and a woman needs to feel as fit and powerful as she can going into it!

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