Why I’m still doing hot yoga at 36 weeks

sweatpink beyond yoga

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.

napping with tigger

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.

sweatpink yoga
Okay, this class actually had some bliss attached – but that’s because I did it with Christie. 🙂

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.

liz alyse jamie yoga pearl

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. 

 

Backbends instead of pushups

lake tahoe sweat pink

Since I’ve had rather extreme experiences so far with group ex instructors, and I’m still figuring out what my position is on modifying prenatal workouts, I’ve been spending more time hiking, kayaking, and swimming this summer than practicing yoga. I go through phases like this once in a while, when I step back from the studio and find myself questioning, what did I really get out of my practice? Is the studio where I want to be spending my time?

Well, my body has answered those questions for me, in the form of lower back pain, really tight hamstrings, and irritability.

Time to get back into down dog. 

I tried a new teacher, and, praise be, her response to my baby bump didn’t rub me the wrong way or make me feel like I was on the verge of shattering into a million pieces. Some of the modifications she had me do:

Twist the other way

prenatal yoga sweat pink

This one I’ve seen on the internets and even in classes; you twist the other direction, so you’re opening, rather than twisting. It’s kind of funny looking at everyone else, but the woman next to me was really friendly and smiled every time we turned toward each other, so that made it less awkward.

prenatal yoga modifications

Camel during vinyasas

I can still sort of fudge my way through a vinyasa; I usually do knees-chest-chin instead of a full chaturanga, but putting any pressure on my stomach gives me an instant, instinctual, THIS IS WEIRD! reaction, so my vinyasas have been… a little unconventional. She suggested for some of them, I come to my knees from plank and into camel, then rejoin the class in down dog. She explained that you get a similar heart opening as in updog, without the chance of belly-floor contact.

That’s a modification I hadn’t seen before, and I loved—camel is one of my favorite poses anyway, so I was happy to trade my shuffling knees-chest-chin for a glorious, if quick, heart opener.

And the timing couldn’t be more perfect, since today’s prompt for the #liveinprAna challenge is all about backbends. Show us yours!

Tuesday, August 25: Backbends. Any backbends. All backbends. #benditlikebackbend Show us how you get bendy! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Bonus: It’s #transformationtuesday y’all, whether you’re bendier than you used to be, more adventurous, or even faster, we want to see! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

 

Adjusting my yoga practice for pregnancy

I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of exercising now that my energy is mostly back, and I’m not dealing with all day everyday nausea. To be honest, it’s been a bit of a struggle, between the traveling for Blogfest and my parents house and beyond (literally, I’m kind of a nomad this month) and also trying to figure out how I want to approach the whole prenatal exercise business.

Part of me thinks all the advice and recommendations—specifically, about not doing hot yoga or twists or running or anything intense—is total BS, if you’re someone whose body is accustomed to doing those kinds of activities.

The other part of me recognizes that my body does feel very different these days and that I don’t want to put the baby at risk, especially since I made it past that horrible first trimester, and dammit, I can’t fail now.

So I’ve been experimenting, and trying to regain my fitness without jeopardizing my or my baby’s health. I’m trying out a few things, namely, ‘normal yoga.’

What is “normal” yoga, anyway?

I’m typically a power vinyasa kind of girl—anything that doesn’t get me moving pretty quickly, sweating pretty intensely, or my heart rate up I usually find torturous, even boring. (Please don’t smite me for saying so, yoga gurus).

I’ve taken a few classes that old me would find far too vanilla for her taste. She probably wouldn’t even consider them real ‘exercise.’ Now, they’re kind of tough. Humbling, even.

I’m really interested in taking prenatal yoga, mostly to meet people and also to make sure I’m doing any modifications right. I’m in Lake Tahoe for the next few weeks, and since there seems to be a dramatic shortage of prenatal yoga classes, I’ve also started doing prenatal yoga online. I found a ton of good ones on Grokker, and I’ve been doing them lakeside, early in the morning. I just set up my phone on my handy tripod and get my yoga on while everything is still quiet and serene.

grokker sweat pink
Wearing: my favorite new Gaiam top, from their Kohl’s line, and prAna gazelle leggings.

I admit I had a healthy skepticism of prenatal yoga before actually doing it. I (wrongly) assumed it was just dumbed down yoga; that you’d be treated like a fragile creature that’s about to break. I had visions of classes that consisted of nothing but wide-kneed child’s pose and some gentle breathing. But the videos I’ve tried so far have been so much better than that.

prenatal yoga doesn't have to be boring

They’re not super sweaty workouts, but they are a perfect way to start the day, and are helping me to figure out how to use this shape-shifting body of mine in a way that feels right.

Even if you’re not pregnant, there are ten million videos on Grokker I’m dying to try once I’m feeling a little stronger, from HIIT to sports conditioning and vinyasa flow classes.

I’m back, b*tches!

I’m officially on day 2 of my second trimester and wowee! I love second trimester energy so far. I still have random bouts of nausea, mostly at night, but overall, I almost feel like myself again. Never again will I take normal life, energy levels, appetite, or activities for granted.

shredded paper chain
Paper chain: ELIMINATED.

 

Lots of big news around these parts:

sweat pink fit pregnancy

  • I’m eating vegetables. Like, so many vegetables. And fruits. And eggs. And sweets. And basically anything with flavor. There’s a whole new world to explore.

kosmic kombucha

  • I got the green light to drink kombucha. My midwife said all the live cultures are great for me, and the tiny bit of alcohol wasn’t a concern. Her words were, “If you start feeling drunk, stop drinking it. Otherwise you should be fine.”
  • Speaking of… after dating interviewing lots of care providers, from OBs to nurse midwives at birthing centers to the hippiest of the hippie midwives, I’ve made my decision. More on why I’m going with midwives, coming soon.

sweat pink gaiam

  • I went to yoga this morning. My couch potato streak is over. Good riddance. I’m not fully up to speed with exercise—yoga this morning was a relatively low-intensity, not too challenging class, but still rather humbling. Even so, just being there and making it through the hour made me feel like a champion. Also, endorphins. How I’ve missed you, my pretties.

sweat pink fit pregnancy

  • I may have done the impossible and overdosed on my favorite food. I ate so much string cheese, cheese pizza, and grilled cheese sandos during first trimester that I’m kind of over cheese right now. Not so much that it makes me sick to think about or eat, but I am tired of it. I’m not choosing it.

 

  • My jeans feel really uncomfortable. I can mostly hide this bump situation—right now it just looks like I have a beer gut or ate too much queso—but ick, buttoning my jeans feels awful, as does zipping up several of my skirts. As I discovered this morning trying to get dressed for yoga, the same is true for most of my yoga pants/ athletic wear. This is the downside to having been at a more or less consistent weight for the last seven years: I don’t really have any fat clothes to rely on. The wardrobe options are getting more and more scarce. Time to go shopping, obviously. 

 

Now that I have all this energy, I have a few missions I’ve set for myself. First and foremost, get back into regular exercising. It couldn’t be more perfect timing that the #LJInspired challenge starts on Monday: I’m thinking of that challenge as the perfect opportunity to get my butt back into gear, and have some built-in accountability and motivation.

I’m planning to take full advantage of BlogFest next week, namely, some of the sponsors that will be there. One of my favorite yogurt brands, Siggi’s, is bringing us some super delicious yogurt snacks (!!) and I am so, so happy that I’ll actually be able to enjoy all that yogurt goodness.

blogfest sweat pink
I’m also putting together some final thoughts on survival skills for the first trimester (coming soon). Hopefully it will be helpful to someone. If nothing else, I still have some venting to do, and y’all know how I love to vent.

 

Happy Friday, everyone!