Don’t do abdominal exercises, don’t do twists, and definitely don’t do a strong practice that would make you sweat. That’s what I learned in my first prenatal yoga teacher training, and many after that.
Over the years, I saw first hand how we need our strength when we’re pregnant, maybe more than any other time. When else are we carrying a baby inside that weighs as much as a bowling ball, 24/7?
Fear around pregnancy is embedded in our culture. Even the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) didn’t recommend regular, daily pregnancy exercise until 2002.
Using therapeutic principles of alignment to make sure we were making space for baby, I explored what happened if I worked my mamas. We always used the breath, and I always taught in a nurturing way, but I encouraged them to use muscles they didn’t know they had and they often felt shaky, yet stronger, after each class.
And I saw that not only did they develop muscular strength that helped them avoid aches and pains, deal with the intensity of labor, and spring back more easily as a mom – but it also gave them inner strength to get through the challenges.
But it wasn’t until I asked myself, “What is the unique opportunity that pregnancy – and prenatal yoga – offers us?” that I fell in love with teaching it.
Pregnancy is a doorway for so many women to our Divine Feminine Self; a deeper power than effort, and a wiser intelligence than knowledge. The part of us that is more intuitive, feeling our way forward, listening and allowing things to unfold.
Yes, we can just keep going with our practice and our life changing as little as possible. And we can have perfectly healthy babies, and be wonderful mothers.
But there’s an opportunity we have during this time to slow down, and turn inward. And when we do, what we find changes us forever.