Preparing for Parenthood With Yoga
Yoga for Moms-to-Be
Oct. 8, 2001 -- When fitness runner Frances Hall was pregnant,
she wanted to find a more gentle exercise.
"I have always been active and didn't want to stop when I
got pregnant," says the 30-year-old mother. "But running got to be too
hard on my body and on my belly. After trying out a couple of other things, a
friend recommended yoga -- and I fell in love. Yoga is like running in that it
gives you time to reflect -- it clears your head. And of course it lets you get
physical -- but not too physical."
Frances' love affair with yoga didn't end with her pregnancy:
when her son Jamie was 2 months old, she signed them both up for a postpartum
class. Now, almost two years after Jamie's birth, she is still a yoga
She's not alone. While there are no hard statistics, more and
more women are turning to yoga both pre- and postpartum, as is evidenced by the
growing number of yoga studios popping up around the country that offer those
Yoga, It Isn't Just for Flower Children Anymore
"I think yoga works on all three aspects of our being: the
body, the mind, and the spirit," author and yoga instructor Gurmukh Kaur
Khalsa tells WebMD. "It keeps them all equalized and it keeps the mother,
most importantly, relaxed and confident and courageous." Gurmukh Khalsa is
director and co-founder of Golden Bridge Yoga in Los Angeles and has taught
kundalini yoga to the likes of Madonna, Cindy Crawford, and David Duchovny.
"As far as the physical: It keeps the spine aligned, it
keeps the pelvis aligned, it takes the breath deep to where your baby is
growing, and it makes the mama feel better," she says. "As the body
changes and she gets heavier, sometimes she feels tired, big, and overwhelmed,
and on the physical level it helps alleviate the stress on the spine and also
helps the abdomen grow to have room for everybody, mama and baby. It also keeps
all the organs going and the glandular system going strong.
"As far as the mental goes, we learn how to access our
intuition," Gurmukh Khalsa continues. "We can't ever give birth out of
the intellect; it's not a thought process, it's an out-of-thought process that
goes beyond mind to intuition. We access that through meditation and through
chanting. On the spiritual level, it just heightens the soul to keep the
miracle, the mystery, always in mind. Oftentimes things get so medical in this
world ... that a woman loses touch with herself.
"And lastly, it's community: Sharing with people of like
mind, like purpose and like intention builds your own awareness. Everybody is
leading everybody else," she says.
Prenatal, and to a certain extent, postpartum, yoga differs
from "regular" yoga in that it is much more gentle. Certain poses are
off limits -- for example, "inverted" poses such as head stands,
shoulder stands, and poses that put pressure on the abdomen.