The True Benefits of Prenatal Yoga Part 3: Community
In the past several blog posts, I’ve outlined the deeper benefits of prenatal yoga. If you missed the previous posts, please go back to learn more.
Have you ever been to the gym and not made eye contact with a single person? Have you been to a yoga class and barely said a single word? This doesn’t happen in prenatal yoga. In prenatal yoga, we are all about the community experience. In the beginning of each class we talk, checking in week after week with how the pregnancy experience is going. We discuss the deeper questions like, “What are you afraid of? How has the pregnancy affected your partner? What qualities do you most want to teach your child?” I call my prenatal yoga student community a sisterhood. It’s rich with the bonds of familiar support and similarities as we share and nurture the motherhood process together.
Pregnancy can be a little lonely at times. While people try to relate to you, if they aren’t actually pregnant at that moment it doesn’t feel quite the same as talking to another pregnant mom. Co-workers, strangers, friends, and family all mean well when they ask about your pregnancy. However, all their opinions and comments like, “Wow! You’re as big as a house.” (Yes, someone really did say that to me one time) do not land well when you are only 6-months pregnant. While talking to another pregnant mom, there’s no need to explain why you are so tired, your feet are swelling, and you’ve cried five times today—they just get it. In prenatal yoga, we bring together pregnant women to share their experience in an open, honest way. Here’s a group of women that you can relate to. It helps moms realize they aren’t alone in this experience.
In this culture, going to the OB or midwife appointments is the closest we come to having a ritual during pregnancy … except for prenatal yoga. Prenatal yoga is special. There’s no other place like this where pregnant women gather every week. The weekly or more prenatal yoga class offers women a stable ritual to look forward to each week. In prenatal yoga, we celebrate pregnancy while creating a space for inner-connection and introspection. As I mentioned in my previous post, most women who come to prenatal yoga are beginners. Many women start coming to yoga during the end of their first trimester, after they stop feeling as tired and nauseous. They end up coming nearly every week for their entire pregnancy! This consistency brings rhythm and reverence to their pregnancy journey. It’s a time set aside just for them to move their body, check in with their baby, and breathe. As a teacher, I feel honored to be a guide, to hold space for each mother as she grows and changes with every passing week.
Women who are present and participate in weekly or more classes will often create lasting friendships from the class. They share resources, research, and fun finds with each other. They might get lunch or a coffee after class. Pregnancy and early motherhood is a shifting time that affects all parts of one’s life. Social networks will change and expand as women seek out the friendship of other moms. It’s important for women to be a part of a tribe of other women they can trust and rely on for support during this unique and sometimes challenging time.
Pregnancy and early motherhood is a time often full of advice and judgment from others. Women do it to each other without even realizing it. Everyone seems to have an opinion. All moms are the targets of judgment, but especially in the early years. In prenatal yoga, we practice the art of deep listening. Great shifts are made when women realize how normal their own thoughts, worries, fears, concerns, and physical discomforts are. While sharing, women learn all different kinds of perspectives, choices, beliefs, and values about motherhood and birth. We do not judge others or force our own beliefs on others. We support one another. By listening without judging or offering advice, women learn how to open their minds and maybe expand their own previously held beliefs. In this way, we learn from each other. We come together, honoring each other and this great rite of passage as unique and individual, while also reflecting on it as the universal experience it is.
There are so many benefits to prenatal yoga. I hope you can see how this class offers women so much more than just exercise. We are a community, a sisterhood, and we welcome all.
If you are pregnant, and haven’t already checked out a prenatal yoga class, I hope I have convinced you to try it. Please check out a class in your local area. If you aren’t pregnant, please share this with your community. When women are supported, we create culture change and everyone benefits.