During my pregnancy, I loved doing yoga. I kept going to my normal yoga classes, but, luckily, I had a relatively easy pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is an excellent option available to pregnant women. I am very excited that Suzanne Brubaker, an amazing mother and yoga teacher, has agreed to share her experience with prenatal yoga.
Did you try, or regularly practice, yoga during pregnancy? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The Magic of Prenatal Yoga
By Suzanne Brubaker
Yoga makes me feel AWFUL…said no one, EVER. Anyone who has experienced yoga will likely vouch for the euphoric feeling that keeps us yogis and yoginis so committed, so almost addicted, to the practice. As my teacher says, once you start you can’t stop. It may take a few classes to truly experience yoga in its true form, but once you do – once you open yourself to the practice – you won’t be able to stop practicing, in some form or other.
I began practicing yoga after grad school, when it was just beginning to become mainstream in the small town that I lived in at the time. I loved it, and I sought it out as much as possible after that, through many moves, many gyms, many studios, and even through the pregnancies, births, and onward of my two children (who now actually beg me to teach them yoga, and make up their own poses!)
As you will hear many yogis say, it has truly transformed my life, and is an integral part of my personal growth.
I will never forget my first prenatal yoga class, because it was such a pivotal point of my pregnancy for me. I had been teaching yoga for a few years at that point, but had never experienced, or taught, a prenatal yoga class. I didn’t know what to expect, and was honestly a little nervous, even though it was a class at my home studio. I was about 5 months along with my first baby, and this was one of the first physical things I was able to do since becoming pregnant.
My pregnancies were both rough going. I was very sick for the first 4-5 months, often unable to make it through a workday, and relying on ice cream as my only sustenance. I gained a lot of weight, as you can imagine! Along with the physical challenges, came mental and emotional challenges of dealing with my changing body, the loss of control and numerous other ways that hormonal changes wreaked havoc on my body. I remember feeling like this little being inside me was somehow at fault, and then of course feeling guilty for feeling that way. I didn’t feel as connected to my baby as I thought I would, as I thought I SHOULD. I was a mess.
As usual, I turned to yoga. I rejoiced in the feeling of community in that class, the sharing, the non-judging. I felt centered in a new way as we focused on our breathing, our calm, our devoted time with our babies. I stretched through all of the aches and pains that my growing body was feeling, and I actually ALLOWED myself to relax, release, and rest with my baby. I wrapped my arms around my belly numerous times and felt a gratitude that I had been overlooking for months.
When I walked away from that prenatal yoga class that evening I felt, for the first time, an insurmountable amount of love for this tiny being inside me, and excited to be pregnant! I knew the class would make me feel good physically and mentally, as yoga always does. I never expected the level emotional benefit that I would experience, the sense of connection to my baby, and the feeling of being understood. I slept better than I had in months, and with my new perspective toward my baby, I was able to handle the stresses of pregnancy better. I was able to enjoy. Each. Moment.
I began teaching prenatal yoga soon after, while still pregnant. I was so eager to share this practice with other expecting mothers! Pregnancy is hard, we don’t talk about a lot of those hard things. Prenatal yoga classes offer a safe space for mothers to talk about their feelings and hear from others going through similar – and not so similar- emotions and challenges.
The benefits of prenatal yoga for expecting moms are endless and are evident. It can reduce stress levels, reduce nausea, improve sleep, help regulate emotions and improve mental state. It relieves the aches and pains of pregnancy, and increases, or at least maintains, strength and flexibility. Prenatal yoga can even help with pregnancy and birth risks, such as preterm labor, breech position and intrauterine growth restriction.
Another important benefit of prenatal yoga is that it prepares expecting mothers for the birthing process, and helps provide tools to use when in labor and giving birth. I personally breathed (ujjayi) and ommed my way through 20 hours of labor for my first baby. I took a short hospital birthing class in preparation, but I credit my prenatal yoga classes entirely (okay not entirely, I have to credit my husband too!) for getting me through the natural labors, and births, of each of my children. Every time I teach a prenatal class, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awe of the practice. I do all that I can to make the experience as positive and helpful for those women as it was for me. But then I remember, yoga kinda does that on its own.
Trust in the wisdom of your baby, your body, and your divine light. Namaste.
If you liked this post check out The Benefits of Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy and First Trimester Tips: Diet and Exercise.
Suzanne Brubaker is a mother of two children. She has been teaching yoga to babies, children, and expecting moms for a decade. She and her husband now own a fitness and yoga studio in Philadelphia. To learn more visit waterandrockstudio.com