The author of ‘Bumps in Motion’ on how she traded Prada heels and business suits in for Lululemon yoga pants and flip-flops and never looked back.
What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?
The choice that completely turned my reality on its head was my decision to leave my corporate job as a Paralegal and Contracts Manager/Negotiator. I had just had my baby and suddenly my priorities shifted overnight. It was not (and in many ways still is not) the popular choice for a woman to quit her career and stay home to raise baby. If you had said to my former Patricia that I would one day trade in my Prada heels and business suits in for Lululemon yoga pants and flip-flops, I would have said no way! But there is something powerful, almost spiritual that happens when a woman cuts through fear and moves through pregnancy and birth in a mindful and Awake manner.
What inspired you to specialize and teach Prenatal Yoga?
I was an active yoga student before I became pregnant. I kept going to my Level 2 Flow yoga classes when I was pregnant simply because I loved my yoga teacher and I had the impression that pregnancy yoga classes would be too boring for me, LOL. And it wasn’t until I reached my 5th month of pregnancy that my yoga teacher kindly kicked me out! She thought that although I was doing just fine modifying poses, I would gain more benefit by attending pregnancy yoga. She said, “You are doing yoga for two now. It is no longer your own yoga practice.” Ouch! And it was the BEST thing for me. I can tell you that the tools I used in labor were the ones I practiced in pregnancy yoga class. Because I was able to manage 26 hours of labor doing it au natural in a way that was very empowering for me, I decided that I wanted to teach other women how to do that too. I am now also a certified Childbirth Educator and Birth Doula!
What is different about attending pregnancy yoga as opposed to one’s own yoga practice, i.e. can a pregnant yogi still continue to attend her Level 2/3 Flow class?
Yes, if the woman had a strong and regular yoga practice before she became pregnant, she can certainly still attend her regular classes. However, she will need to modify many of the poses such as twists (open twist vs. close twist). She should avoid deep back bends and strong inversions such as head and hand stands.
The topic of inversions is still very controversial among yogis. I remind my students that in pregnancy her body is releasing Relaxin hormone which softens joints and ligaments which can make her shoulder joints instable for a hand stand. Plus, the poses most beneficial for a pregnant mama are the ones that emphasize Apana energy, that grounding downward flow. Apana–Vayu is situated in the pelvic floor and its energy pervades the lower abdomen. The flow of Apana-Vayu is downwards and out and its energy nourishes the organs of digestion, reproduction and elimination. This means squats! Putting a pregnant woman upside down would not only put her at risk for injury but also may encourage the baby to become breech (head up/feet down). Unless you are Gita Iyengar, a pregnant woman should avoid those poses.
Your new book, Bumps in Motion, is unique in that not only does it share many prenatal yoga sequences, step-by-step; it also features yoga teachers from around the world! Is Yoga taught differently around the world?
Yes, I believe yoga is practiced differently in other parts of the world. I believe in America we can sometimes over-emphasize the physical intensity of yoga. My Contributors varied in the flow of their sequences, music, and even class structure.
I love your book title, cover image, and inside images. They are not only beautiful. They are provocative! What’s the story behind your vision with the imagery?
I have a dance and choreography background. I always say I was a dancer before I became a yogi. Sometimes we can treat pregnant women very gingerly. Provided the woman is healthy and does not have a medical condition, I feel she should move her hips, keep her spine flexible, and most of all have fun and celebrate her pregnancy! When I was thinking about the cover of my book I went on Amazon and scanned through the book covers. Cover after cover the book images were just a pregnant woman sitting in Sukasana with her hands in Prayer Mudra. BORING!
I wanted my book cover to depict exactly my philosophy and style of prenatal yoga sequences: woman in motion! When I went to Spain I saw an image of a Ballerina flying in the air and I thought aha! I was also inspired by the blue and green colors of Spain and also of living by the ocean. My cover model wearing a lace Bando bra, exposed belly, and sheer fabric flowing like the ocean was the perfect imagery! For the chapter Mantras, Malas, & Mandalas, Oh My! My model is essentially topless with just malas bling draped over her chest!
What’s your advice to yoga teachers who want to get certified in Prenatal Yoga? There are plenty of training out there. How does one pick the right teacher training?
I would look for trainings where the instructors have a strong medical background in pregnancy and childbirth. I would also look for the breath of yoga sequences from Restorative sequences to more dynamic and fun sequencing. This question is one of the reasons why I produced my yoga book! As a prenatal yoga teacher one has to be prepared to modified up or down depending on the students’ past yoga experience and also keep in mind the different Trimesters. The teacher must also be prepared to offer alternatives to students that suffer from a pregnancy ailments.
Who are 3 people (yoga teachers, doulas, etc.) you’re inspired by?
I have had so many yoga teachers that have and continue to inspire me in the USA and in England. A few are actually featured in my book or else referenced in the bibliography. First and foremost, I am inspired by, my teacher, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. The Kundalini yoga tradition still influences my class sequences and I especially love the Keep-Up Meditations.
I was also influenced by yoga teachers in England such as, Francoise Barbira Freedman because of her involvement with the natural childbirth movement and her understanding of how yoga can affect the pregnant anatomy. Years ago, I attended her Trust Birth Conference in England and it encouraged me to become a birth doula. I am also inspired my Maya Fiennes for her use of breath and meditations and especially for her funky and hip mantras music. You know I was over-the-moon when Maya agreed to be one of my contributors in my book!
What other sources (books, podcasts, films, Youtube channels) might you recommend to learn more about Prenatal Yoga?
I can recommend MANY books, DVDs, and Youtube Channels.
Shiva Rea, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Anna Getty’s Pre & Post Natal Yoga Workout, Pregnancy Yoga with Tara Lee, Maya Fienne
“Yoga for Real Life” By Maya Fiennes
“Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond” By Francoise Barbira Freedman
“Yoga for Pregnancy and Birth” By Uma Dinsmore-Tuli
“Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful” By Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
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