Babies lucky enough to be born in New Orleans are not only blessed with the title of New Orleans native, but they are also fortunate that their mothers have access to a variety of nurturing wellness resources. Prenatal yoga is one such resource that goes beyond physical exercise and teaches mothers the benefits of focused attention and calming breaths. The tools of prenatal yoga serve women throughout pregnancy and delivery, as well as after their babies are born.
Prenatal yoga addresses many changes that take place during pregnancy. Classes are not just geared towards stretching, but rather on building awareness of a woman’s body. These classes differ from regular yoga classes in their focus on preventing and easing the aches and pains specific to pregnancy, while also teaching breath work designed for labor. Women learn to connect to their bodies, their breath and their babies. Certified prenatal yoga teachers are knowledgable in how to utilize props (such as blankets, bolsters and blocks) to assist in modifying yoga postures and supporting each individual student based on her stage of pregnancy.
Along with the physical tools that women learn in prenatal yoga, they also benefit from the social aspects of class. As certified prenatal yoga teacher Nicole Rezza explains, “The prenatal classes at Wild Lotus are more about creating a community amongst moms-to-be. In the beginning of my class I ask them to share information about where they are in their pregnancy. There are so many emotions and circumstances that they are experiencing; it’s encouraging to see that other women are feeling or experiencing the same thing.”
One question many women have is “If I have no experience with yoga, is pregnancy a good time to start?” According to local prenatal yoga teacher Tamar Starck, who teaches classes through East Jefferson General Hospital, “Pregnancy is a great time to start yoga. A regular yoga practice helps expecting women get comfortable with their changing bodies while stretching, strengthening and relaxing. I focus my classes on breath awareness, alignment and relaxation. So it is structured for all levels and is very accessible to beginners.”
It is always recommended that you consult with your doctor before beginning prenatal yoga, and remind yourself that this is a time for nurturing your body and soul. Call ahead and confirm if the class you are planning to take is suitable for your stage of pregnancy. Depending on the type of practice taught, the teacher may recommend that you wait until the second trimester to begin taking prenatal yoga classes. If you can’t find a prenatal yoga class that fits your schedule, Nicole suggests “If the pregnant woman cannot get to a class at the studio, there are prenatal yoga DVDs they can purchase. The program that I was trained under, Mamaste Yoga, provides podcasts through iTunes. They can also set up a private session with any of the local certified prenatal instructors.”
A mistake many pregnant women make is going to a regular yoga class, rather than a prenatal yoga class. Often times women aren’t aware of the different approach that is needed when they are pregnant. Nicole recommends “that pregnant women do not take regular yoga classes once they are in their second and third trimester. At this point, they will need to be aware of many modifications.” The other issue is the pregnant woman becomes the contraindication in the class. The teacher cannot cater to one student when they have 15 others in the class that are not pregnant. Students in the class may get frustrated because the teacher is catering to the pregnant student. Another issue for the pregnant woman in her second or third trimester is that if the class is on their back for half the class or more, the pregnant woman has to find some other poses to do because she is not supposed to be lying on her back at this point in the pregnancy. If she is new to yoga that could become a negative experience for her.
Although there are an endless number of lists and figures that you may be measuring your pregnancy by, try to let go of any need to overachieve and instead, cultivate contentment with where you are in each prenatal yoga session. Not only will you open your joints and muscles, you’ll open your mind as well!
Prenatal Yoga Classes Currently Being Offered Around New Orleans:
East Jefferson General Hospital
Phone: (504) 456-5000
Classes take place at Destination Maternity
3300 North Causeway Blvd
Metairie, LA 70002
Phone: (504) 301-3134
Classes take place at the Swan River Mandir in Mid-City
2940 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: (504) 899-0047
Classes take place at Wild Lotus’ Uptown studio
4842 Perrier Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Brooke is the Inspiration Guru at Yoga Lagniappe, a company devoted to being your personal guide to yoga and wellness in the New Orleans area. As a Tulane student, New Orleans began to seep into Brooke’s blood. Following graduation and living abroad, she still couldn’t resist the pull of our unique culture. Now she happily shares the tools of yoga and wellness as a yoga teacher and enthusiast throughout the metro area.
As my picture caption says, I loved every minute of prenatal yoga at Wild Lotus. Kelly was my teacher, and I credit her with providing me my first real physical connection with Baby A (now known as Jane). I was sixteen weeks along and still not feeling pregant, just chubby. We had seen one picture of Baby A at ten weeks but nothing since. I felt like all of our conversations about Baby A revolved around material things – how would the nursery look, what kind of carseat would we need, which is the best brand of diapers. Within the first five minutes of class, I felt connected to my changing body and to a new group of women experiencing the same thing as me. That hour and a half every Thursday became my favorite part of the week. It was my time alone with my baby to shelter my thoughts from everything in the outside world and just focus on the health and happiness of Baby A.
I truly recommend prenatal yoga. In fact, there are days when I think about sneaking in and taking a class sans baby bump!
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad that prenatal yoga was such a positive experience for you.
I love your comment about wanting to sneak back into a prenatal class sans baby bump. The challenges of motherhood can certainly be eased with the tools of yoga. Give restorative yoga and yoga nidra a try. Both of these yogic techniques can really help you relax and unwind, as well as refresh your perspective on being a mom. I teach restorative yoga t Life Yoga and yoga nidra workshops at Namaste of Metairie. There are also restorative classes at Balance Yoga & Wellness and Wild Lotus Yoga.
Please let me know if you have any questions about yoga “sans baby bump!”