I attended my first antenatal yoga class at the weekend – if you read my post about the lack of pregnancy fitness and health support in the local community, this is the one I mentioned I was in the process of signing up to.
I know a couple of people who have done this class in the past and it came highly recommended, so despite it being at the awkward time of 11.15am on a Saturday (at least it was at a time workers can actually make it) I thought I’d give it a go, and signed up for four classes for the grand total of £20.
I felt like the new girl in school getting ready, making far too much effort in case my class mates judged me, and as with all new situations I couldn’t be sure how it was going to pan out. For a start, the lady who runs the class (a really sweet and just on the right side of crazy lady called Anne), sent about six documents in the email welcoming me on to the class. I still haven’t read them all but completed the questionnaire and noticed a note at the bottom advising us to bring water and two pillows to class. Now I definitely overthought this because I was the new girl and didn’t want to look stupid, but did she mean actual pillows, or cushions? There’s a big difference, Anne.
So I pulled up outside the class, which is held in the dance studio at Merchant Taylor’s Boys School in Crosby, should anyone in the Liverpool area want to know, and waited until I clocked a few pregnant yogis heading inside – they could only be going to one place, surely? And with a back seat stuffed full of various pillows and cushions of all shapes and sizes, I picked up just one basic pillow and headed inside.
There, I didn’t know who the hell Anne was. I stood like an idiot surrounded by women sitting on mats, looking for someone to point the new girl in the right direction. No-one did. And then across the room I saw Kate, a friend of a friend I knew well enough to practically hurl myself at in gratitude, knowing she’d look after me. I’d have of course been absolutely fine if Kate hadn’t been there, I am an adult with no real anxiety or crippling shyness issues after all, so I’d have loitered uncomfortably until Anne noticed the awkward girl stood clutching a £20 note and a freshly dressed pillow.
The class was made up of about 20 pregnant women, from all walks of life, all ages and at all stages of pregnancy. The three to my right were 36 weeks pregnant, making me feel like a fraud, but I was glad when we went round the class to say our names and how far gone we are, plus any thoughts on names and sex (the baby’s, not generally), and found that it really did range from around 14 weeks right up to that 36 week and about to drop stage.
It’s not yoga as I’ve done it before, which was to be expected I guess. There was no sweating or getting a head rush in the downwards dog, it was much more about focusing the mind, controlling our breathing and gently working on the parts of the body that are going to be affected by pregnancy, labour and beyond. It was all very relaxed, and then took it a stage further by doing 10 minutes of relaxation (sleeping) on the floor at the end.
Right now, the only thing I can actually remember doing is being on all fours and pretending to breathe like a lion. Head shake and tongue wagging, the lot. It was the only ridiculous thing we did, but hey, if it’s going to help get this baby out then I’m all for it. And I can only think that over the next four weeks and beyond, if I stick with it, all of the breathing techniques will settle in my subconscious without me realising, and the exercises will gently prepare my body in a way I couldn’t even begin to understand. And I did leave the class feeling relaxed and not thinking about anything other than what I’d just done and what I was going to eat when I got home.
I love a bit of well-being and holistic therapy, I wish I had the time and patience to practice it more, and while I’m generally a fact-based operator, I also have a side which believes in harnessing energy – the more positive energy you put out there, the more you will get back. So while much of the other exercise is off the cards, the next six months is my opportunity to get in touch with my zen times and make myself a calm Mum for a calm baby.
If you’re looking for a pregnancy yoga class in the Liverpool area, try Anne Blower at Yoga 4 You – https://yoga-4-you.yogaclassnearyou.co.uk/