A dancer growing up, I always liked the idea of yoga. Yet regular practice has tended to be difficult for me to maintain. In the months leading up to my wedding, I attended classes 2-3 times a week and started to see a noticeable difference in strength. I’ve always been a weakling, but through the regular yoga practice I would feel my strength building week by week in different poses.
Then I got married and my part-time position became a full time job. Lacking the motivation of wanting to look great in my wedding dress combined with a less flexible work schedule, my practice went by the wayside. Months went by, the job didn’t work out, and I got pregnant. Enter prenatal yoga.
Only 12 weeks pregnant at my first class, I felt like an imposter. Not near popping yet, I was surrounded by women much further along. The closest person to me was 16 weeks. I felt like I wasn’t “pregnant enough” to be there, so I didn’t go back for over a month. I went again around 20 weeks or so. This time I kept going. And going. And going. By the end of my pregnancy I was attending class three days a week. It was a Godsend.
Each class would be begin with our teacher sharing some reflections from her week. It might be a birth story, something she’s struggling with, a recent family adventure, or some other inspiring wisdom.
Next we would spend part of the class (and sometimes a good chunk of it), going around sharing “who are you and how are you.” It was a chance to share our names, how far along we were, baby’s gender if we knew it, and how we were feeling – physically and/or emotionally. Our teacher or another mommy would always have some encouragement, advice or a referral to help with any struggle (heartburn, sciatica, back pain, gestational diabetes, breech baby, work issues, moving, nursery decor… you name it). Together we shared celebrations and challenges with a group of women who could empathize with exactly what we were going through.
After check-ins, we moved through yoga poses in a practice designed to help us relax and prepare our bodies for labor. Most of it was restorative. And there were squats. Lots of squats. The movement was soothing and meditative. Anxiety was replaced with a calm and loving connection to my body and my baby. Focusing on my breath, the movement, and staying in the moment, all of my stress and worries melted away.
I looked forward to every class, and my schedule started to revolve around them. Physically, the movement felt so good to my pregnant body. Emotionally, I relished the community I found in the studio. Our teacher also become a mentor and role model for me. I grew to love listening to her confident and reassuring voice throughout the class. Everything about the class made me feel stronger and more ready to become a mommy myself.
Eventually, I was the one in the room at 40+ weeks, and other women were just starting out. I remember when a woman started coming when she was six weeks along. Her close friend was in her third trimester, and they wanted to take class together for as long as they could. Now on the other side of things, I wanted to welcome her with open arms. There was no judgement that I imagined others were feeling when I first tried out the class. If you’re pregnant, you’re pregnant, and you belong.
Did you ever go to a prenatal yoga class? How was it?
What type of movement or exercise do/did you enjoy while pregnant?
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