It's hard to imagine anything more awe-inspiring than pregnancy. Yet, for many women, the experience of submitting one's body to the incubation of offspring can be wrought with unfamiliar and unpleasant sensations.
An oft-subscribed antidote when a pregnant body starts to rebel against the familiar routine of diet and exercise is prenatal yoga. When approved by a doctor or midwife, prenatal yoga is commonly known as one of the best activities for maintaining strength and fitness during what can be a trying and sedentary phase.
A prenatal yoga practice typically starts after the first trimester, unless a mother-to-be is a long-time yogini who knows how to modify her practice while the pregnancy becomes established.
From week 13 until birth a regular prenatal yoga practice can help with some common physical complaints like back pain, calf cramps, and minor swelling. Often prenatal yoga classes will also spend time focused on breathing techniques and poses to help with the pain and trial of labor.
Aside from the physical benefits, prenatal yoga classes also serve as a great place for women − whose due dates are around the same time − to meet, share insights and concerns, and start long-lasting friendships.
In the Livingston and surrounding areas there are a variety of choices for practicing yoga during pregnancy. Exhale Yoga in Livingston, owned and operated by Daniele Jarman, offers a recurring six-week prenatal yoga series. Jarman says that her vinyassa-based prenatal classes focus on flowing movement, breath, balance and restorative poses. She spends time in her prenatal classes attending to the many physical transformations of pregnancy and giving the mothers-to-be some time and space to bond with their babies.
In Montclair, Starseed Yoga and Wellness offers two prenatal yoga classes a week, taught by Kelli DeFlora. In addition to teaching yoga, DeFlora is a certified birth doula and she offers a mothers' group that offers discussion, support and advice on various parenting topics. DeFlora says that her prenatal yoga classes are a gentle vinyassa style that focus on connecting women to each other and to their pregnancy while also encouraging them to trust their instincts throughout the experience of pregnancy and giving birth.
In Maplewood, ShaktiMa, run by Gayle Lemke, offers classes twice a week that focus on strength and breathing in a challenging but modified vinyassa-style flow class. Lemke, also a birth doula, offers a "moving through labor" workshop that helps teach pregnant women techniques to manage labor pain and create the birth experience they want.
Also in Maplewood, Shakti Yoga and Living Arts offers three Hatha-style yoga classes a week, taught by Ires Wilbanks, Elizabeth Gallo and Erica Furman. Wilbanks and Kim Collins, a childbirth educator, also offer a Labor and Delivery workshop that focuses on ways to make the three stages of labor easier and more efficient through nutrition, movement and breathing.
Wilbanks says that the intention of her prenatal yoga teaching is "helping a woman unleash her trust in herself, that she has the knowledge to give birth within her, and that doing this practice connects her with that instinct."