The World of Prenatal Yoga

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Sometimes I forget how much I love yoga. Sometimes I get caught up in scrolling through image after image of Instagram yogis and their beautiful postures, and it brings a sense of inadequacy and even jealousy that should be nowhere associated with the practice of yoga. Sometimes I am able to dis-attach myself from the Intsa-yogi world, and in those times I find I am either really busy or really not practicing often enough. But lately I found a new reason to let go of the ‘I wish I could’s of the yoga pictures, and it feels so refreshing.  It’s a lot like how yoga felt to me when I first discovered it’s mystery and charm–and this reason is prenatal yoga. But let me write a long-winded story about how I found this blessing of a practice.

My first experience with anything to do with yoga was as a 20 year old university student at Laurier. My girlfriends and I joined a women’s only gym around the corner–I couldn’t even tell you the name of the club at this point, but it was your typical gym, weights and cardio machines and a fitness studio for step classes. They offered a yoga class, just a nice simple hatha type class, no power vinyasa sequencing or inversion attempts, but for me it was the instructor that hooked me. She was very young, wore not a stitch of makeup but was stunning, and had the super eclectic style that to this day I wish I’d had the guts to adorn (I’m too old now haha)–piercings and dread locks and tats and an arm full of what I now know were (or at least I assume and envision as) mala beads. Despite the fact that she taught in the same environment, the same room even, as the dance-y step classes (step has evolved since then! Don’t get me wrong; I loved it then as I do now) she made it feel like we were transcended to a quaint and quirky studio on the beaches of the Pacific. She made yoga…cool.

Of course, I then discovered Body Flow (I believe I am in my 10th year instructing?! And there will be many more years to come). I could write so much about my love for and connection to the program, to that teaching, those members, the MUSIC (I gave birth to my children to that music! Sorry for those details), but my focus here is yoga. Flow is a connection to yoga. It encompasses yoga. It is a beautiful ode to yoga at times. But we define it as a Mind Body class, we do not call it ‘yoga’. And so I thank Body Flow for teaching me the postures, for deepening my passion for moving my body in a way that yoga asks it to move, and for giving me the confidence and drive to commit to my 200 hour yoga training. But now I go back to ‘yoga’…

Then came my introduction to a local studio, Balanced Life, by my friend Katie…my ‘spiritual advisor’, who, though we see little of each other at this stage in our lives (working moms!), is and will always be very special to me. This place, and Katie’s excitement about yoga practice, brought back that feeling of mystery that I felt in my first yoga experiences. I still avoided spending extra cash on attending a studio, as I had a membership with Goodlife and loved my LMI classes there, but I now knew the blessing a class in that kind of environment could be. By the way, I’ve been to many studios since that time and have come to realize that a ‘studio’ can be a bedroom, a garage, or a barn as long as you make it what you want it to be.

In October 2012, a week after our wedding, Dev and I found out I was pregnant. And off to Balanced Life I went that January to start my prenatal journey. The classes were simple, well sequenced, calm. As a Kin grad and phys ed teacher I spent most of my time thinking everything had to be hard core, challenging, sweat inducing. And then I did this class. It opened up feelings about the practice of yoga I didn’t understand could be there. It connected me more deeply to the baby inside; obviously that was it’s intent, but it surprised me to be honest. The class became far more about what was happening in my head and heart than anything that was happening with my body. While about 7 months pregnant I did both my CFP Prenatal Fitness Specialist (informative) and Prenatal Yoga Instructor Training through Balanced Life (um, amazing). And truly, this is officially what made me decide that I needed to train my 200 hour. I wanted to learn more about the ‘other’ sides of yoga that I had no knowledge of. And for the record, though I learned a ton, I know only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to yoga philosophy. I’ll be reading yoga teachings for the next 40 years and still have more to learn, so I don’t put too much pressure on myself. But I am grateful to my first prenatal classes for bringing me so much closer to yoga.

This being my third pregnancy, I am on stretch three of the prenatal road. I look forward all week to Wednesday nights, when I know I can place my hands on my belly and be in my own mind and find baby and be one with them. Yes we move through asanas, wonderfully sequenced and so beautifully taught by our instructor Krista, we stretch and strengthen, we learn a ton about pregnancy and delivery, but we also send out and receive energy to and from each other and Krista, and most importantly, we send our breath to our babies. I am so grateful for that. I know these classes gave me more strength, mentally and physically, to get through my past two deliveries than anything else. And I know again they will help me be mindful during this labour and birth, whatever it may bring.

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