Attended by roughly 35 teachers, studio owners, and pregnant yogis, the training taught us to skillfully integrate safe prenatal yoga postures into Bikram’s Beginning yoga class…and to safely practice the series as a stand-alone program.
We had a fabulous time learning, talking yoga, teaching and motherhood. For Heather and I especially, the trip provided a chance to reflect on the opening of our studio and to enjoy the nourishing food, breathtaking views and quiet vibe at Kripalu.
Rajashree led us through detailed discussions of each posture, its particular benefits and its associated precautionary measures. She taught the series to us several times, and we laughed as we were told to go slowly, take it easy, not to push too much. (Not exactly what we are accustomed to in our daily non-pregnant practice!) Occasionally, she would catch us slacking off and reprimand us gently.
Dr. Doreen Wiggins, founder of the Center for OB/GYN in Providence, Rhode Island co-led the training. Dr. Wiggins is the mother of five children, a serious athlete and a strong believer in the power of yoga. She lectured—in detail, system by system–on the physiology changes associated with pregnancy. Next, she discussed exercise and nutrition in pregnancy. She noted that the CDC/ACSM has increased its recommendations regarding exercise and suggested that pregnant women follows these guidelines, too, in the absence of medical or obstetric complications. Yoga can be particularly helpful. A regular practice improves sleep, reduces stress, improves relationships—and prepares women for the bond of motherhood. What’s more, a regular practice (before and during pregnancy) can shorten labor.
The day after we completed our Pregnancy Yoga training, BYCF practitioner Christie Green turned up at the studio. Six months pregnant, Christie has been practicing for more than five years. Her practice began in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she grew up and attended college. Green continues to practice here in Chadds Ford, where she is building her photography business.
“My first class was jam packed, with only two inches between the mats. I thought I was going to die. But I went back.” Green loves working out, and as she practices she has begun to see the other benefits. Standing Bow is Christie’s favorite pose. She doesn’t particularly like Rabbit pose, so it’s nice that it’s not part of the pregnancy series. She loves the hip openers (such as the straddle splits) that are part of the pregnancy floor series. Christie feels physically strong, and backing off has been challenging for her. Due in January, Christie plans to practice up to two or three times a week during her pregnancy.
She practices near the door, where the temperature is a bit cooler. Green—and all pregnant women—are encouraged to be gentle with themselves, to take breaks, drink water and to leave the room if they feel uncomfortable. Formal doctor’s permission for yoga is required.
Rajashree Choudhury started her yoga training at the urging of her parents at age four. She was a five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship from 1979 to 1983. After studying at Mahila Yoga Byam Kendra, Gosh’s College of Physical Education and Yoga Training Institute, she received her Certification in Hatha Yoga Therapy for chronic diseases and disorders. With over 15 years in the East and 25 years in the West, Rajashree’s special focus has been on the emotional side of yoga and how yoga balances the energy of the human body and impacts not only disease, but also affects the body/mind/soul connection which constitutes vibrant health.
Rajashree has helped her husband create the Bikram yoga movement, connecting in particular with the many mothers in our community. Rajashree had two very different pregnancies and used her yoga practice to navigate the challenges of motherhood, before, during and after her pregnancies. She also helped her husband create the highly successful Teacher Training program after more than ten years of teaching yoga in the United States.