by Elise Bowerman
Why is Prenatal Yoga session-based?
From experience of being a Prenatal Yoga (PY) student, and a teacher of both walk-ins, and session-based classes I have found session-based is best for the greater majority of expecting women.
I’ve been teaching PY since 2009, and participated in walk-in PY classes in 2009 and 2011.
The session-based classes I offer began in 2014. Since that time I have connected to students in a way which never existed before. They’ve gotten to know me, and I them; and they know one another! It is predictable, safe, and fun for everyone!
Top 3 reasons for session-based Prenatal Yoga:
1. Without a commitment it's easy to not show up.
Pregnancy offers a whirlwind of emotions and physical discomforts.
Guess what?! So does birthing! It brings up an array of feelings and is a physical challenge, too!
When a student shows up when they’d rather be resting at home or out to dinner with their partner – that’s when the magic happens. Because they are not escaping - they are facing their feelings, discomforts, or whatever else head on. This is the challenge to prepare for the birthing experience! No one escapes the birthing experience. Every birth is different, and it happens no matter what.
Perhaps mom’s energy is low, or she’s just not in the mood… that’s what a session-based yoga class is all about! To be in the space physically with other women supporting one another, to notice the internal dialogue, to take rest when needed, to be in-tune with body, baby, and breath.
Baby’s arrival can be anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after the due date. It may be when mom had a tough day, it may be when she’s feeling powerful; no one knows. Preparing and practicing on a regular basis will prove to the mother-to-be that she is capable of handling whatever comes her way.
2. Session-based classes create a community.
Students will feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their experiences of pregnancy. The first 15-20 minutes of class is "circle time." We cover a variety of topics, share events and feelings of how the past week went, and whatever else they're learning as they prepare to welcome baby into their arms.
Besides our wonderful discussions the women tap into their primal movements and sounds. Our modern society is far removed from moving naturally with curiosity. Women often worry about others before themselves - even in childbirth! Together as a group they begin to shift into a state of self-awareness, releasing expectations of what others may think or what she, herself, may feel she "should" be doing.
Preparing and practicing on a regular basis will prove to the mother-to-be that she is capable of handling whatever comes her way.
Birthing women require the opportunity to move freely. The practice of movement options and the ability to create sounds to support herself during childbirth begins prior to baby's descent. When she sees and hears other women doing the same she knows she's not alone in this process, and is reassured it's absolutely normal and healthy!
Some moms will create life-long friendships through this process, too!
3. Each class offers more information for the student.
As the weeks go by students learn new techniques to embrace their pregnancy, and support their birthing process. When students miss out on multiple weeks they risk missing out on vital information to feel comfortable and confident as a birthing woman.
Walk-in classes, generally speaking, are repetitive in nature. There's usually someone new week to week. As students come and go, the depth of the relationship between one another and the teacher isn't like a session-based class.
There's a lot of trust and vulnerability in pregnancy. With consistent students (and teacher) they can tap into that vulnerability more and more each week. Which will aid them greater during their most vulnerable and empowering moment: childbirth.
It's not to say walk-in classes don't work. They DO! It's simply a different experience.
* Photo from circle time in Prenatal Yoga at Livonia Yoga Center 2015