Before I got pregnant, I had almost no experience with yoga. I had always preferred running or walking as my form of exercise. I always felt I didn’t have enough patience for yoga or that it wasn’t enough of a workout. But when I was 18 weeks pregnant, I decided to try Yoga for the first time. The primary draw for me was the social aspect. I was looking forward to meeting other mamas-to-be and potentially making friends.
As soon as I entered the studio, I felt at home. Within the first 10 minutes of the class, I was hooked. I knew I made the right decision. Each class starts with brief introductions and conversation about pregnancy and motherhood (this is actually my favorite part!) I loved hearing what the other women were feeling and being able to compare notes with them. It was so nice to have a venue for asking questions and hear advice from Jessica (my fearless instructor) and the other pregnant mamas. I learned that everyone else had aching hips, heartburn and insomnia too. I was in good company.
The class itself was more challenging than I initially gave it credit for going in. It was gentle enough that my pregnant body could handle it, but I appreciated the burn my body got after an hour of planks, Warriors and Down Dogs. I left that first class feeling slightly like Jell-o, but stronger than I had ever before. I had endorphins running through me all week and I couldn’t wait to go back.
I attended the yoga classes regularly for the next five months. It became the highlight of my week, and the most enjoyable part of my pregnancy. It was dedicated time set aside just for me. It was exactly what my mind, body and baby needed to prepare for childbirth and motherhood. It’s a nice reprieve from the demands of work, house chores, social obligations and my inner dialog. It was a safe environment to clear my head and leave all the other baggage at the door — even it was just for an hour.
Yoga became such a great way for me to communicate with my baby. I knew I was sending positive energy to her from inside. She’d reward me with little kicks throughout to let me know she was enjoying it too. I loved doing Down Dogs and hearing Jessica tell us to "look down and say hi to baby!" This made me smile every time. Hi Baby! It was such a fun reminder of the little person growing inside and how important staying healthy was for her.
As the weeks ticked by, I could see my body getting stronger. I could hold my poses just a few beats longer… breathe a little deeper… stretch a little further. I enjoyed feeling how strong my body could be, even with the demands of pregnancy. As my belly grew, I thought my body would slow down, but I discovered that it actually felt stronger each week. This boosted my confidence, helped me sleep better and prepared me for giving birth.
I loved that yoga helped me set the stage for a whole week of healthy habits. I noticed I started to eat better, drink more water and pay attention to what I was putting into my body. It gave me motivation to walk almost every day, and gave me the tools I needed to stretch and do a few poses every night before bed. It laid the foundation for me to maintain a healthier lifestyle. And that made me feel great. I was in a healthy cycle.
I was impressed at how fun yoga was for me. Especially since I went into it thinking it would be boring and easy. After one class in particular, we had just finished our final Om and I opened my eyes and said "I just feel like clapping wildly!" The surge of energy I got after each class concluded was something I’d never felt before. I can’t explain how excited and proud I was to do a wall handstand for the first time. I had no idea I could do something like that — and 9 months pregnant to boot! My other friends were shocked when I told them that I did it!
The real test came when it was time to give birth. The breathing techniques I had learned through yoga helped me to dig deep into myself when I needed strength. I was able to push my body further than it might have went without that training. It helped my mind to relax when I needed to separate from the pain. But most important was the faith I had in my body and confidence that I could deliver a baby.
I am so thankful for my experience with yoga and I am so excited to continue my practice now that my baby is here. I loved the community it provided and the space for which I could relax. I love having dedicated ‘me time’ in the calendar. Yoga definitely changed my life. I am more at peace with myself now than I ever have been before. I learned to appreciate my body and all that is capable of. Surrounding myself with that positive energy reminds me weekly of all the wonderful people and things in the world.