I would not call myself a yogi. While I love to exercise, I generally prefer cardiovascular activities that boost my heart rate and give me that exercise “high” I love. I’ve never been flexible and I spent many years thinking yoga was something limber people did to relax and unwind. I’m also not very “zen”. I grew up with a Buddhist father who meditated daily while I was often sitting in the next room fretting about something.
So when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first baby six years ago and I could no longer comfortably bike or jog, I very begrudgingly (and at my father’s urging) decided to check out my local prenatal yoga class. I was a new transplant to Queens, NY at the time and had no friends in the area, so imagine my delight when I walked into the welcoming yoga studio to find a room full of pregnant women!
After one class I was hooked. All the stereotypes I had about yoga were wrong. These women were all shapes and sizes and they all came to class with varying levels of fitness. If I wanted to make it a real work out, I could. If I wanted to take it easy and just stretch and rest, that was fine, too. The stretches, the poses, and the deep breathing all felt wonderful to me. And I made my first NYC friends on the mat, swapping stories and questions over the following months, as I never missed a week.
During my second pregnancy I went to yoga for entirely different reasons. I no longer felt like I needed the exercise, as I was chasing my one year-old daughter around all day and taking long NYC walks with her in the stroller. And I also didn’t need to go to make friends, as I had formed my solid network of local mommies. Instead, I went to yoga for some much-needed me time. It was one hour per week when I knew I would get to focus on my health and my new baby. My body was often sore from all the daily activity with my one year-old and yoga helped me loosen up those problem areas and relieve some pretty intense sciatica. And the dark, quiet rest and deep breathing at the end of each class, called Savasana, is Heaven for a tired mom.
I am now pregnant with my third baby and there have been weeks when I’ve been so busy I’ve forgotten entirely that I’m even pregnant. I’m sad to say that I haven’t made time during this pregnancy for my yoga practice. I’ve spent this pregnancy juggling my preschooler and toddler while trying to keep up with my work and other family obligations. But this past Mother’s Day I decided to treat myself to that one hour of “me” time. I went to Isis Needham for the Sunday morning prenatal yoga class and it was wonderful. I had a pang of nervousness when I hit the mat and I even said to the group “I’m out of shape and haven’t done yoga in three years. Basically, you all are about to see something really special.”
I’m happy to report that there was no need for me to be nervous at all. My body was happy to receive some attention and the Isis instructor, Nia N. was incredibly responsive when I needed help, offering encouragement and helping me adjust my poses when I needed it. And I especially enjoyed the Savasana at the end when she encouraged us to think about our new babies. When was the last time I slowed down enough to contemplate this little guy?
When I got home I felt amazing. I was relaxed and smiling. I actually had more energy for my family the rest of the day and then I slept so, so deeply that night. It was wonderful.
So please learn from my experience—whether you go to Isis for prenatal yoga once or for 40 weeks, the important part is to just GO. Your body and new baby will thank you!
Claire Goss, MA
Isis Parenting Child Development Instructor