Many classes start with women sitting in a circle & each woman introducing herself & her baby, its a great chance to meet other mums and for the teacher to tailor the class to their particular needs -
Your teacher will usually then lead a short guided meditation (centering) to help you clear your mind , let go of any worries and tension to be fully focussed on and present in the class – sometimes a breathing technique is taught.
Moving in to the main part of the class & a gentle guidance through various, pregnancy appropriate postures – you will take each one very slowly as you are encouraged to listen to your body and feel if you should go deeper, or back off. We encourage women NOT to push through any discomfort, each pose should feel supportive and GOOOOD.
Most teachers guide you into mini rest & relaxation postures throughout the class, allowing your muscles to recuperate before moving on – women are encouraged to use these rest postures as much as they need to. They are SOO important, and for me as a teacher, I think it is so important to learn to listen to your INNER teacher – not the person at the front of the class – don’t ever feel the pressure to ‘keep up’ with others – do what is right for your body she is working very hard, and deserves some love and kindness.
Now springs to mind the story of a woman I taught some years ago, who recounted her birth story –
she was in hospital being induced, in active labour and feeling comfortable on all fours, leaning over the
back of bed & using the breathing techniques she’s learnt in class to relax through the contractions – her midwife
came in the room and was quite firm in telling her she should get on to her back (never a good idea in labour).
The woman looked over and made eye contact with her partner for solidarity, then simply put her head
back down, and carried on doing what she was doing. She knew that no one knew her body better than she did,
and she trusted her instincts. She remained comfortable through the whole process
and baby was born without drama.
Moral of the story – listen to your body over what anyone tries to tell you.
Most teachers have a range of equipment such as blocks, bolsters, fitness balls and blankets, all of which can be used in many ways throughout the class to help you to understand your body and gain greater comfort in class, plus you will take this knowledge away with you to use in every day life, night times and where appropriate – in labour.
The final part of the class is Deep Relaxation, which may last typically between 10-20 minutes, although this can vary greatly.
This is done in a lying down, or resting back, completely supported position. It gives your body and mind a chance to absorb the changes that have taken place, you will revitalise, replenish energy reserves, and process many emotional blockages.
It can feel very strange to let go so completely in a room of strangers, and many women worry about falling asleep completely – however rest assured, yoga teachers have many subtle ways to bring you back gently in to full consciousness without any embarrassment. Personally when I hear a room full of soft snoring I know I’ve done my job well!!
There are many different types of Yoga, from meditation based classes (Sahadja), more spiritual classes (Kundalini), flowing sequence classes (Vinyasa & Ashtanga) and – what we see in the West, most often in sports and fitness centres, are classes which focus only on the physical postures (Hatha) – but none of these are the full story of yoga - they are all parts of the same story!
Now - in pregnancy - more than at any other time in your life you have the opportunity to discover how yoga can unite the body and the mind, to improve moods, health and create calm and balance in your whole life.