Today’s post is a guest post by lovely Laura Cooper, Alma yoga instructor and Alma mama too!
First some words from my clientele:
Every move I made yesterday during the 7 hour home birth that was 3 weeks early – I learned from you.
It’s a beautiful girl with a full head of hair. No name yet. I’ll see you soon!”
“Laura, I finally had my baby! She was born April 5th, after an half an hour of pushing in the birthing position. Thank you for all the practice. Your prenatal yoga classes were the highlight of my week.”
I came to the practice of Prenatal Yoga during my first pregnancy in the fall of 2009 when, after deciding to birth with Alma Midwifery, I asked if they were looking for another Prenatal Yoga instructor. Laura Ericson welcomed me into the livingroom of the Birth Center on Ankney and 16th. It was a small but beautiful space to be pregnant and practice yoga and the class would sometimes be filled with the noises of a laboring mama in the next room or upstairs. Being close to pregnant women, birthing women, midwives, doulas, new mothers and opening ourselves up to life itself, I knew that I had found more than a Midwifery center, I found a space for that empowered and respected the feminine spirit during this crucial time of growth. I focused on studying and gaining proficiency in the most important Hatha/Iyengar poses that best support the back and hips while the pregnant belly is growing, as well as appropriate strengthening poses, hip-openers, awareness of posture, breath work, and don’t forget the all important squats. I focused on creating a Prenatal Yoga class that is challenging and effective with the ultimate goal of increased physical comfort and confidence in the bodies ability to carry, birth and nurture a baby.
Alma has since grown and now includes the Alma Midwifery Education and Movement Space, located at 1233 SE Stark, just a few block from the Birth Center. After I took some time off, traveled the country and had another baby, I came back to Portland in 2011 and contacted Alma to see if I could come back to teach Prenatal Yoga. I was once again welcomed and now had the experience of two very different births and recoveries to help guide my yoga regimen. I was thrilled about having a bigger studio and amazing props, but I was even more thrilled to have such a huge network of birthing professional sharing such a beautiful space. The opportunity for education and community is a vision that I believe most birthing professional share, and the Alma Space is one the closest realizations of that vision.
My understanding of Prenatal Yoga has grown too. I am able to adjust the routine to the level of the practitioners and their specific needs. I have come to realize that there are yoga poses you can do when you are pregnant and there are yoga poses you should do when you are pregnant. My class focuses on what healthy and capable pregnant women can do to not only maintain physical fitness during pregnancy, it also gives women the opportunity to become stronger. I strive to create the most open group possible where pregnant women from a variety of philosophical and physical backgrounds can come together to talk, share and support each other in this very important time while gaining the benefits of a thorough yoga practice.
I’m so fortunate to have many students come back for Active Postpartum Yoga and Baby & Me Yoga and I especially love it when second and third time mamas come back to Active Prenatal Yoga for their new pregnancies. I strive to make the birthing years for my clientele a time to connect deeply with their bodies and their babies in a very real way through the healing arts of yoga and meditation. Namaste. And thanks to all who have shared their time and feedback.