Hi, I’m Jessica Jennings, the founder of Ma Yoga for Pregnancy, Motherhood & Beyond. I started teaching Prenatal Yoga in 2001, but I didn’t fall in love with it for a while.
So often Prenatal Yoga is seen as a lot of do’s and don’ts – mostly don’ts.
But to me, there was so much more to it than that.
Once I started to understand the answer to the question, “What’s the opportunity that pregnancy offers us?” – that’s when I fell in love.
I had studied pregnancy exercise and therapeutics for years, getting my Masters in Kinesiology and then working in a hospital to complete my clinical study. I developed and ran a group prenatal visit and prenatal yoga program for six years called Pregnancy in Balance at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles.
The results were surprising even to me: 97% of the women who were part of our prenatal yoga groups said would recommend Kaiser to family and friends if they were pregnant vs. only 67% of moms who received traditional, one-on-one OB care.
I realized that with the right guidance, support, and inspiration women could change the challenges into opportunities to discover their highest, most powerful, wise, “Ma” Self.
This is the opportunity that pregnancy offers us: to come together and rediscover our feminine wisdom, power, and nurturing energy.
But how to train teachers to do this?
I pared all of yoga back to its essence – according to Ayurveda, the essence of everything in the universe is the five elements: space, earth, air, fire and water.
When we reconnect to and balance these elements within ourselves – for instance, making space with breath and finding earth stability with our muscles – we begin to embody our highest “Ma” Self.
My New Mom Challenges
When I became pregnant, I felt so lucky to be part of a community and to have prenatal yoga to relieve aches and pains, de-stress, and enjoy this exciting time together.
But when I became a mom, I felt depleted and isolated.
It was too hard to get all the way across the city with my baby to see my friends from prenatal yoga.
Plus, my body didn’t feel like mine and I didn’t have a strong enough home practice to really break out of my patterns to heal.
I realized that if it was hard for me, a yoga teacher, then clearly it’s not enough to provide prenatal yoga classes that help moms-to-be get out of pain, relieve stress and prepare for labor.
It’s vital to provide yoga, education and community for the entire journey to motherhood and long beyond, especially postpartum.
My Dream of Providing Yoga for Pregnancy and Postpartum for Mamas Everywhere is Born
In 2009, I founded Ma Yoga for Pregnancy, Motherhood & Beyond to be a community of prenatal teachers, birth practitioners, moms and moms-to-be.
More than 18,000 women received support, guidance and inspiration in our 10 “Mama Circles” – prenatal yoga and mom and baby yoga classes in Southern California.
But I always felt like I wanted to reach women who didn’t have prenatal yoga around them, or who couldn’t afford it.
And then… Covid happened.
The silver lining for us is that our community has become much more accessible and affordable for women everywhere.
We love teaching moms and moms-to-be in the comfort of their own living rooms!
Ma Yoga for Pregnancy, Motherhood & Beyond is also an internationally-registered RPYT online prenatal yoga school, so we get to train yoga teachers all over the world.
The “Ma” in Ma Yoga means “mother” in pretty much every language.
In Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, it also means the highest, most powerful, wise and nurturing of any group – like “Ma Kali“, the mother of all goddesses.
No matter who we are, or where we are on our life path, when we learn to turn nurturing energy inward, we can step into our highest, most powerful and wise “Ma” Self.
I am honored and grateful to support you on your “Ma” path!
Jessica Jennings, MS
Ma Yoga® Founder