April 1, 2014 Updated: April 1, 2014 at 11:49 am
It's Wednesday morning in Old Colorado City, and 10 new moms and their babies have arrived with their yoga mats.
As the moms flow through sun salutations, warriors, eagle-armed airplanes and pigeon poses, their babies sprawl, sit and crawl across the room. Mamas take turns introducing themselves and their babies and talk about what's new.
"I gave him an apple slice, and he passed out," one mom said, inciting laughter.
"If only life were always that easy," said Kari Kwinn, the prenatal yoga teacher who co-owns the local studio Enso: Motherhood Revolution.
I've long thought that yoga would be about the best activity for a pregnant woman. With all the squatting and hip-opening postures, I imagine those little bubbies would pop right out. No muss, no fuss.
Kwinn has taught prenatal yoga for three years.
"Movement is important for prenatal because it prepares you for labor," she said. "Labor is a balance of hard work and active relaxation. Yoga helps build the strength you need to work through labor, as well as the capacity to relax and let your body do what it's there to do."
And don't stop yoga practice after giving birth. Kwinn recommends new moms wait six weeks before going back to class, and to take it slowly at first. Too much too soon can cause serious damage.
"It takes nine months to get that other body, and then we think we should be back in three weeks," she said. "It's one thing to look healthy, and another thing to be healthy. Slow and steady wins every time."
As it turns out, there are other, just as important, reasons to practice yoga both pre- and post-baby.
"It's all about the community," she said. "More important than the movement is meeting women."
And it's true. A large chunk of time in the Wednesday morning Mom and Me yoga class was spent expressing fears, worries and joys. Many of the new moms were concerned with growth-chart percentiles and wondered if their babies' weight, feeding and socialness were within normal ranges.
"Postpartum is important because motherhood can be isolating," Kwinn said. "It's nice to see that other babies cry and that other women have found solutions to some of the hurdles that you're facing."
Tips for prenatal yoga practice
- Practice squatted frog or goddess poses for strength. Many women give birth in a squatted position so those poses build strength to help them hold them it.
- Cat and cow is nice for women who have low back pain or pelvic pain.
Posture modifications to make during pregnancy
- Pregnant women should avoid anything they couldn't do if they were wearing a corset, said Kari Kwinn, a prenatal yoga teacher. That means no deep backbends, compressing forward folds and deep twists.
- Avoid anything ballistic, like jumping.
- Kwinn recommends making modifications as soon as women find out they're pregnant so they become accustomed to the new style of yoga.
Tips for postnatal yoga service
- Care for your body, Kwinn said, and move slowly as you come back to your asana practice.
- Women often are tempted to start strengthening their core immediately after giving birth, Kwinn said, but going about it incorrectly can strengthen the wrong muscles and create injury. Safe core work includes exercises or postures that strengthen the transverse abdominal muscles. Try forearm plank or high plank with knees on the ground, assuming there are no previous significant injuries.