Prenatal Yoga


Prenatal Yoga: My Life Well Loved

During my pregnancy, I’ve changed my fitness regime quite a bit to embrace keeping a healthy baby and making the most of pregnancy. One of the changes I made was incorporating prenatal yoga into my routine. Since I hadn’t done yoga that much before prenatal yoga, I didn’t really know what to expect or where to head. Luckily, I found my way to Annie Damsky’s studio at Villager Yoga in Mountain Brook. She is both a wealth of knowledge and super welcoming!

Prenatal Yoga: My Life Well Loved

I got to take classes with other momma’s to be and friends who came with me and we all agreed that afterwards, we get the similar sensation of a massage. It seriously is so relaxing and your whole body just feels released from tension and strains. One thing that I really loved about this class was at the beginning, each momma to be introduced themselves, how far along they were, and any discomforts she may be feeling. Annie led the class based on what people were struggling with and it was SO nice to get that kind of relief after an hour and a half of class. I found it to be one of my favorite ways to end the work day on Tuesday nights!

I interviewed Annie below so you can know what to expect from a prenatal yoga class and a few things you can do from home to help you ease any pregnancy aches and pains.

Can you start yoga when you are pregnant?

You may start practicing prenatal yoga at any stage in your pregnancy. Many women will start around 14 weeks, when they are more public with their pregnancy and have more energy (and less nausea). Prenatal Yoga is a safe practice to begin even if you haven’t done any yoga before you were pregnant because it works with your natural body mechanics, and it’s a class specialized towards a growing and changing body. I also see a lot of moms starting yoga in their third trimester, because other exercise practices don’t accommodate as much physical comfort, and they are focusing on preparing for labor and delivery.

Prenatal Yoga: My Life Well Loved

How is prenatal yoga different than “regular” yoga?

While the focus is heavily placed on breathing with your movement and moving into sequences and poses that benefit strength, flexibility and balance overall (as in “regular” yoga classes), Prenatal Yoga takes a much deeper focus to targeting key areas affected during pregnancy. We focus on specifically strengthening the muscles surrounding the uterus and pelvic floor, improving circulation and increasing overall comfort in the hips and back. Specific breath work and visualization techniques are also introduced that will aid in labor and delivery. We use more props for positioning the body for good alignment and comfort.  The environment is also different. There is a lot more sharing and student interaction in a Prenatal Class, as each woman is on a similar journey. It’s a really awesome community environment.

What tips would you offer someone who is pregnant about going to yoga?

Call the studio first, or visit their website!

> Most studios ask for a doctor’s waiver (the waiver for Villager Yoga is available here)

> Many studios have drop-in classes, some may ask that you register in advance

> Usually mats are available to borrow, but you may want your own so that you can do some yoga at home too

> Dress comfortably

> Bring your water bottle

> Grab a light snack, like almonds or a banana about 20-30 minutes before class (this is different from a “regular” yoga practice, where you typically wouldn’t eat an hour before class)

Back pain is a common complaint during pregnancy. What is the best pose to do at home for back pain?

Flowing through cat/cow spinal flexion and stretching out into child’s pose is my favorite go-to for any back pain. This is a great practice that can be done anytime, but can be really beneficial to get your day started and to get you comfortable before going to sleep.
Cat/Cow:
> Begin on your hands and knees.
> Inhale, turn the tailbone towards the sky, let your middle (ribs and baby) drop towards the earth, and feel your heart’s center face forward (head may also tilt back).
> Exhale, arch the spine like a scardy cat, while looking toward’s baby’s home and turning the tailbone towards the earth.
> Repeat 10 or so rounds
Child’s Pose:
>From hands and knees, widen your knees to make room for baby
> Sink your hips back to your heels
> Relax your chest and forehead down to the earth (put a thin pillow or blanket/towel under your head for support if you like)
> Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms down
Prenatal Yoga: My Life Well Loved
What is the best pose to do at home for relaxation?
In class, we relax in a supported reclined bound angle. This one takes some props, but you can do it at home (photo above)
Set up: Get some towels, blankets, sturdy pillows, or a few thick hardback books (or two yoga blocks and a bolster)
At the back of your mat, make an incline by placing either rolled up towels/blankets in a pyramid stack, or place blocks/books with one flat on the wide side and one tall on the short side (see picture)
Place your bolster over the incline
Sit close to your bolster with your back facing it. Bring your feet together in bound-angle pose (like an old-school butterfly stretch from PE)
Recline on the bolster
Let your palms rest on baby’s home or open beside you
Stay here observing your natural breath for 7-10 minutes
Alternative, esp if your feet are swelling: Legs up the Wall
Props: towel or blanket, folded to a few inches thick and the wall, or couch/chair
Seated close to the wall (or couch/chair)
Lay on your side, roll onto your back and slide the blanket/towel under your low back/seat
Place the backs of your legs against the wall, or hang them over the seat of the couch or chair
Let your palms rest on baby’s home or open beside you
Stay here observing your natural breath for 7-10 minutes
Villager Yoga
What classes would you recommend pregnant women can take other than specifically prenatal at Villager Yoga?

>> Wednesday mornings, 9:30 – 11:00 am, Sacred Flow: This is a gentle paced class that will allow you to build strength, increase flexibility and find deep release without over doing it. The teacher, Jasper Wolfe, is a massage therapist and a momma herself, so she is used to working with different body types and understands first hand modifications that need to be made for a baby belly. Plus, childcare is available, so for moms expecting their second or third, this can be a really convenient option.

>> Thursdays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Deep Peace Yoga: This class is all about the deep release into your flexibility and openness. For moms feeling really stiff or a heightened sense of anxiety/anticipation, this is a deep detox! Kimberly Drye has experience working with prenatal students and is also a master at use props to support different body types!

>> Sunday2:30 – 4:00 pm, Slow Flow: Another one of our gently paced classes, this class provide a weekend, afternoon option, making it accessible to many people. It’s a great way to get centered and refreshed for a new week. Sandra, a mom herself, bring a loving, maternal care to her teaching that nourish you as you continue to nurture your baby!

What makes you love prenatal yoga so much as a teacher?

There are so many reasons! Pregnancy puts you deeply in tune with your body, so prenatal students are very aware of moving their bodies in a way that feels supported, comforting and beneficial. I love being able to give them a simple tool or modification and immediately see the relief it provides. It’s beautiful to see these woman making their own health and their child’s health a priority – it really comes through during the unique peace settles in during svasana (relaxation); they are re-committing themselves to bringing balance into their own lives and their family’s life. It’s also fun to see the bonds form between new moms.
Plus, I am gaining a whole new perspective now that I am pregnant myself!

Why is yoga so good for pregnant women as compared to other exercises?

Yoga is low-impact, so it’s not putting extra weight on your joints that are already working overtime and potentially more inflamed and subject to less stability. It also not only keep you comfortable during pregnancy, it’s also offering tools for labor and delivery in building strength, stamina and focus. It can truly be done by anyone at various levels and can be started at any point in pregnancy.

Villager Yoga:

Tuesdays, 5:30 – 6:45 pm

Saturdays, 10:00 – 11:15 am

www.villageryoga.com

Annie Damsky is the owner of Villager Yoga, a studio that offers yoga for the whole family, located on Overton Road in Mountain Brook/Cahaba Heights area. She is certified to teach prenatal yoga, kids yoga and grown-up yoga and has been sharing the practice of yoga with the community since 2009. Find her at villageryoga.com, at Facebook.com/VillagerYoga and on Instagram and Twitter @villageryoga.

Thanks to Jett Walker Photography for the top photo.

Shop the Look:

I’m So Pregnant Tank: Hello Merch | Pants: Beyond Yoga High Waist Mesh Leggings (Some of the few workout pants that have stretched with me throughout pregnancy comfortably. Villager Yoga also carries Beyond Yoga.) | Bracelets: E McGarrah (sold at Pure Barre), similar



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