We are celebrating the moms-to-be at ISHTA this month! Their enthusiasm and consistency at their yoga practice is joyously witnessed by our prenatal instructor team Gina Menza, Esther Palmer and Tisha Ford each week. We sat down recently to chat about the wonder and respect they experience.
How is a prenatal class different than a general population class?
In ISHTA prenatal classes, we honor the journey of each woman. This is reflected by a conscious intention to foster community amongst our prenatal students, to craft safe asana sequences for women in every stage in their pregnancy, and to provide modifications to address our student’s needs.
You’ll learn new practices that help you manage the changes that are happening in your body every single day.
What if I’ve never done yoga before — can I do prenatal yoga?
Absolutely, yes! Pregnancy is an amazing time for you to take up yoga —whether it’s the start of a lifelong practice or a powerful tool to support you on this journey. Prenatal yoga prepares the body, mind, and breath for the numerous changes that occur during pregnancy, as well as the demands of childbirth.
No matter your fitness or familiarity level, you’re welcome to join the prenatal classes at ISHTA, with the confidence that your teachers will establish creating a unique yogic path, to meet your present needs.
I have a regular yoga practice —do I need to go to prenatal yoga, too?
Well, we’re biased, but YES YES YES. In pregnancy, and in preparation for motherhood, significant and rapid changes occur in the body. As the body changes, so does many other aspects of our lives in recognition and support of the pregnancy journey. This includes asana (postures), pranayama, (breathing), and meditation practice. ISHTA prenatal yoga teachers, are grounded in this principle, and as a result, invite our students to surrender to, embrace, and most importantly, celebrate those changes.
ISHTA prenatal instructors are educated on the details of fetal and maternal development most of which may not be obvious to modify for, though doing so can be critical to the well being of both mother and child.
While your practice will change, sustaining a practice is very much about embracing the journey you’re on and living in your present, every day.
Are there critical elements to practice when pregnant?
So many. Finding your breath, finding stillness, pelvic floor toning/releasing, creating space in the body, building tools to relieve strain and discomfort in pregnancy and labor. Our prenatal classes aim to prepare our students to stabilize the mind for childbirth, to know when to surrender to a situation and when to stand one’s ground, and to provide strategies to cope during pregnancy, recover physically after childbirth, and manage the demands of new motherhood.
Yoga can help you put everything into perspective, giving you the tools to handle change and uncertainty.
How are ISHTA prenatal classes unique?
Individuality is supported and welcomed. Individual yogis are met and embraced where they are because we look at each practitioner as a unique being, on a uniquely profound journey. What students have told us they like about our prenatal classes is that they’re still yoga classes with plenty of movement, designed to both strengthen and restore. We’re inspired, rather than intimidated, by the distinctive and multi-faceted aspects of pregnancy and bring an improvisational style to our classes to accommodate each student.
We see you as the strong and capable women you are!
Practicing pregnant with twins blew my mind. I was gonna have TWO infants in one day to mother. I had been practicing for years already this, my first pregnancy, so deeply changed my perspective, but there was a practice that always made me feel better, whether it was asana, or pranayama, meditation or a combo practice.
Once I got over the overwhelming life change, then my body started to change so dramatically that i could feel what hip openers would do. I could feel what putting my legs up would relieve. Less was more. Yoga was like a vitamin. It was such a treasure.
Then…birth…day…I had no greater fear than having to push two babies out of my yoga body. I know Yoga makes one flexible but… so using mantra, using breath, I realized, I was made for this, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.
Then mothering two premature infants felt solitary, overwhelming, and strangely lonely. But I could find the solace, strength and stamina necessary to survive the task in my simple yoga practice. Today we have three beautiful children who have absolutely no interest in yoga. Yet…
In all honesty, in my early yoga teaching years, when pregnant women came to my yoga class, nerves I never knew existed were on alert, and anxiety and fear were dominant feelings. In my 300 hour training at ISHTA Yoga, Gina taught her prenatal module, and one of the first things she said was how once we have completed this module, we will have assuaged the fears and concerns that often arise for yoga teachers when a pregnant woman enters the space. I immediately felt a sense of relief. I wasn’t alone! A newly pregnant woman comes to my vinyasa class, and as Gina stated would happen, my fear transformed to pure joy for her having graced our room at such a beautiful time in her life. She continued to come to class until one day she came to me after and asked if I would teach her privately for the rest of her pregnancy. At this point, I felt the twinge of fear arise again. What more could I provide, than the basics I had learned in my 300 hour? Can I really teach prenatal yoga in such a intimate setting, if I had never experienced pregnancy myself? As this was unfolding, ISHTA was offering their first Prenatal 85 hour training and I signed up, graduating with not only having had a personally transformation experience, but fully committed to prenatal yoga being one of my specialty yoga offerings. What we fear most, often is rife with tremendous teachings. And the greatest teaching, thus far, from this aspect of my yogic journey, is the teaching of humility, acceptance, and surrender. It’s an honor and pure joy, to spend this beautiful time with my prenatal yoga students.
Even as a new teacher, I was charmed by the pregnant women joining class — a more intuitive bunch you will never meet! I always felt like I was learning so much from them –learning how to be strong, how to be brave, and how to be true to one’s self. It sounds a little over the top, but it’s true! I remember my very first pregnant student in an open level class. I suggested she set up near a wall for balances and such, which she happily did. She checked in with the wall in tree pose, and quickly realized she didn’t need it. But I suspected she would have been fine to take its support if she had, she was so present in her practice. That was when I knew I would never stop learning from my prenatal students. What I love most about prenatal classes, is
witnessing my students learning from each other, supporting each other, and realizing their experiences are at the same time unique and universal.
If you are looking to enhance your pregnancy with yoga we’ve got opportunities for you! Yoga instructors…come and observe. These women are gorgeous and powerful.
Weekly hour-long classes
Monday 10am Gina
Thursday 10am Esther
Friday 12:30pm Gina
Sunday 9:30am Tisha