Because it feels good.
I could end the post right there. That pretty much sums up why we do anything, right?
Yoga during pregnancy has been a curious journey. First trimester, I did literally nothing at all except curl up on my couch, retch in child’s pose, and nibble on potato chips.
Second trimester, I tried easing back in: I started going to regular vinyasa classes or prenatal classes instead of the faster-paced, heated classes that were my pre-pregnancy go-to. It felt okay. Despite a few weird experiences, I was convinced that yoga would make me better at labor, so even though most of the classes I went to weren’t thrilling, I kept going. I accepted that the post-yoga bliss was maybe one of the sacrifices you make for the life growing inside you.
Then, a few weeks ago, I took Liz’s class in Portland, and it felt amazing. She’s an amazing instructor, with creative, fun transitions, and a flow style that makes you feel like you’re dancing.
In her class, I also reconnected to something that I loved and that made me feel so good. Even with my modifications, it felt so liberating to move and to sweat, and after class, that rush of yoga bliss came back. I can only assume that Moonshine got to experience that rush of endorphins, too—and experiencing the joy of post-sweaty bliss feels like the best gift I can give her.
Then I accidentally went to a hot power yoga class back in Austin—a happy accident in which I misread the schedule—and again, it was gamechanging. Liberation is the best word I can come up with to describe how it felt to both use my body in ways that it loves, and at the same time to escape the heavy, off-kilter way that it often feels these days.
It was liberating to not be treated like a fragile, precious creature. It was liberating to trust my body to know when to modify and when I could push myself further. In all the hot yoga classes I’ve taken, instructors pretty much leave me alone—which I love—and let me do my own thing. They never ask me to explain my modifications or how I’m feeling mid-class, and being left alone that way gives me license to escape into my body and out of my head.
It’s a very different experience than many of the prenatal classes I’ve taken,* where it felt like it was my job in class to manage the instructors’ anxiety about my body, any modifications I made, or any poses I opted out of. For me, that’s a huge obstacle to getting into the yoga, and an endorphin-block with a 100% success rate.
For now, it feels so good to be pregnant but also still be me. And surprisingly, I haven’t gotten any comments or criticisms when I show up for class or talk about my practice. The pregnancy police has been concerned with other behaviors, like bridge pose at 20 weeks, but my hot yoga habit has somehow escaped their radar.
And, of course, there are a few other benefits:
- People routinely put my props away for me. I’m not sure why, but something about the giant belly sweating next to them inspires them to help me out. #notcomplaining
- While instructors tend to leave me alone during class, they’re super complimentary and kind after class.
- I get to skip the abs. #enoughsaid
- I never have to justify or explain my modifications. There are some I make for reasons not related to my pregnancy, but I get carte blanche to just do whatever the hell I want, without being “corrected” out of those adjustments. Now that’s liberating.
* Granted, most of the prenatal yoga I’ve done has been while traveling, so I was new to the class and the instructors. I so appreciate their concern – it just doesn’t rock my world to have to explain, in front of the rest of the class, not only my pregnancy modifications, but also the ones I make because of an unrelated disability.