Yoga classes during pregnancy have become very popular as women discover the incredible benefits they experience. I am always excited to meet students on the mat. I especially look forward to the pre-natal yoga classes! Yoga can make women who are pregnant feel strong, balanced, grounded, focused, and joyful. With pranayama practice, mamas learn to take in more oxygen and really fill their lungs with nourishing breath. In asana practice, they move through swaying, circling, bending, and pulsing. We practice vocalizing, chanting, and offering babies mantras as we develop rituals and create a sacred space together.
We begin each class by sitting in a circle with the mamas on their bolsters and ankles supported by blankets. We get comfortable. We share something about ourselves that can be as simple as just saying our name. But most of the time the mamas share more. They may tell us if they are experiencing morning sickness, about their ultrasound or what foods they crave. We laugh and share tips. We set an intention and then each mama welcomes her baby to yoga and offers her baby a personal mantra. At the end, we meet again in this circle and close the class by touching palms and sharing Om/Namaste.
While most mamas are ‘over the moon’ about expecting a baby, the truth is that mamas may also experience moments of sadness, anxiety, and even depression. The good news, however, is that yoga can have a positive effect on mood.
Recently, this came to light in my class when a woman stated that she feels sad a lot of the time. She also mentioned that her partner does not understand and is not always supportive. (After class, we conversed privately and I encouraged her to seek support from the professionals on her birthing team.) The mamas listened with a great deal of empathy and shared that they, too, sometimes feel isolated or sad. It was reassuring to everyone to realize they are not alone in experiencing some feelings of sadness at times.
By the end of the class the students came together becoming animated and chatty. They laughed in the unity of motherhood, hardly even noticing that I’d cleared the props and they’d been in conversation for half an hour. Best of all, the mama who had shared her feeling of depression felt supported and was able to laugh too.
Linda Sparrowe in her book, Yoga Mama, says, “My loving advice to you: Keep practicing and surround yourself with people who believe in you and whom you trust completely. Your loving team of experts will stand beside you, fielding questions, and removing all obstacles, so you can partner with your baby to create a smooth passage from your belly into your arms.”
Your pre-natal classes can be more than just a practice of poses. They can offer a safe, open place where you and the yoga teacher work together. Your teacher can guide you in a practice that encourages you to explore your intuitive wisdom, trust your own instincts, acknowledge your feelings, and possibly override negative thoughts, fears, and anxiety. You can ask questions, examine your feelings honestly, share tips with other mamas, find a support network, and build new friendships along the way.
Terry Tator teaches Prenatal Yoga at Fireflow Tuesdays 9.30am.