When Heather Moise found out she was pregnant last year, she made the decision to do something just for her.
Only later did she realize it made everything easier for the whole family.
Just weeks into her pregnancy, Moise signed up for prenatal yoga classes at the Yoga Center of Lawrence, 920 Mass. She had never done yoga before but felt it could add to the experience of pregnancy.
“I think I just wanted something that was kind of pretty gentle and also would help me stretch out and limber up and prepare for the birth,” Moise says. “It seemed like an awful relaxing (time), kind of a time to focus and get myself together.”
And that’s exactly what Moise’s teacher, Kim Lacy, hopes for with the class, which goes year-round at the center. Lacy says the classes work to help the women carry the baby better, calm their nerves, relieve stress about the pregnancy process and prepare them for birth by strengthening them mentally and physically.
“When you’re pregnant, it’s important to be able to carry the baby, so having strength in your legs and in your spine is really important,” Lacy says. “And the stretching that you do, the lengthening makes more space to be able to carry the baby more comfortably. And so, we lengthen the spine and make more space in the pelvis and make more space between the pelvis and the rib cage. It’s easier to breathe and prepares the mother for labor.”
Similarly, Christina Ihloff, a prenatal yoga instructor at Be Moved Studio, 2 E. Seventh St., says the prenatal yoga and support class she teaches helps students prepare for motherhood.
“The class is set up as also a support-style group, where there’s kind of like a circle time where women can check in from week to week and talk about what they’re experiencing,” says Ihloff, a mother of two who is also an apprentice to a home-birth midwife. “Other women may be experiencing the same thing, and it’s just great to get together and meet other people who are going through the same thing that you are. Because sometimes we kind of get the feeling of, ‘I’m totally alone. Is this normal? Is this not normal?’”
The instructors say that the yoga poses have been adapted for the special needs of pregnant women. There are no deep twisting poses, nothing that might put pressure on the abdomen, and the use of props and deep breathing are especially emphasized.
“It’s very gentle, and there’s not a stress on doing the poses perfectly or getting in the exact right position,” Ihloff says. “Whatever feels good and is allowing a woman to open up and relax deeper into the stretching, that’s really the main goal.
“You don’t need to be like a yogini to sign up.”
Moise certainly wasn’t, but after six months of prenatal yoga, she says she was a pro enough that the experience helped her through the birth of her twins in June. She says that she plans a return to yoga soon and wouldn’t hesitate to use the practice again were she to have more kids.
“It was really quick and almost entirely painless,” says Moise, who says she was in labor with her twins for less than two hours. “Kim called to congratulate me, and I said, ‘No! It’s 100 percent your work that made this possible.’”