By JACCI GRUNINGER, MS, C-IAYT, ERYT500
Pregnancy and motherhood are journeys we sign onto for a lifetime. Think of the last journey you planned. How did you prepare? Did you read a book about your destination? Did you contemplate what to pack? Maybe, if the journey was physical you started training.
Imagine preparing for this journey being surrounded by a group of other women training for the same event. This is the greatest benefit to participating in a Prenatal and/or Baby and Me yoga class. A sense of community and camaraderie is developed with other women going through the same experiences.
Ask any pregnant woman how she’s feeling and, depending on how well you know her, you may get a long list of concerns – from back aches, to swollen feet, digestive issues, and let’s not forget, fear and anxiety surrounding the impending birth. Or ask a new mom how’s she doing and she’ll probably respond, tired, worried, not sure if she’s doing the right thing.
Prenatal yoga is a place for women to share information, ask questions and connect with themselves and their growing babies.
“Labor and motherhood can be intense and one of the most physical and exhilarating things we will do as women,” Jacci Reynolds, MS, ERYT said. “At the same time, women are not in the same physical shape we were in 100 years ago and we are more stressed. As with anything else in life, we need to ‘train’ for labor and motherhood.”
Prenatal yoga can prepare new mothers physically, mentally and spiritually for the day-to-day changes in their body as well as for the “marathon” of labor.
“Prenatal Yoga has been a blessing for me. I love communing with all the other pregnant mama’s and being nurtured by the practice that I feel is especially for me. There truly is no substitute for the feeling that’s generated each week!” –Terina, Santa Fe, NM.
Specifically, yoga poses and intense sensation work can build the strength, flexibility and stamina needed for labor and delivery. Meditation, visualizations, and sounding (use of one’s voice) aid women in relaxing and letting go of control. Breathwork can aid in pain management, enhanced sleep and decreased moodiness. Yoga eases pregnancy discomforts such as heartburn, shortness of breath, nausea, and back pain.
Many pregnant women are also finding that the inner focus required to maintain a yoga pose allows them to quiet the constant chatter in their minds, and brings out a feeling of mindful tranquility.
In fact, it is not uncommon for “graduates” of Prenatal classes to stop by with their babies and share their birthing stories with the class or join a Baby and Me class which focuses on the next part of the journey…bonding with baby in this world and regaining one’s strength and inner focus.
“Baby and Me yoga class was nothing short of amazing. Every week I looked forward to feeling more connected to my child, more connected to my body and more calm in my spirit. It was also wonderful to be around other parents that were experiencing all the same things that I was. I have yoga to thank for helping me to be a more peaceful, connected, and happy mother,” said Katie Harwood, MD.
Regardless of the type of birth a mother is planning, the focus and serenity she learns in her yoga practice will help her through pregnancy, labor, birth and afterwards. But just as marriage is more than a wedding day, motherhood is more than a delivery, Reynolds remarked. “The empowerment you learn in yoga can also help years later when you’re dealing with your willful 2 year old. When your toddler is in the throes of a tantrum, you’ll do well if you remember your breathing!”
Prenatal Yoga and Baby & Me Yoga offer an opportunity to get to know both your body and your baby as well as build confidence in your body’s ability to give birth and your ability to be a mother. Pregnancy is the start of a truly amazing journey. Prenatal Yoga can help women savor every moment from the very beginning, developing an intimacy with themselves and their unborn child and connecting with the miracle of life; while Baby and Me Yoga supports moms and babies and builds communities.
About Jacci Gruninger
Jacci Gruninger is a Certified Yoga Therapist and Thai Yoga Massage Therapist. She has been teaching for more than two decades and spent 12 of those years training yoga teachers for the Pranakriya School of Yoga Healing Arts. She regularly helps clients manage the ups and downs of life with yoga, meditation, breathwork and bodywork. Her Yoga Therapy Center is at 190 Central Park Square #212. For her in person and online teaching schedule and information on her other services, visit her website at www.yogawithjacci.com.