The aim of this prenatal yoga class with Jen Fleisher is to prepare moms-to-be for a positive birth experience. The class teaches breathing techniques to facilitate core strength and aid in labor as well as pelvic floor toning excersizes for a quicker postpartum recovery. Emphasis is placed on the breath and constant awareness and connection with baby. Included with the audio practice is a detailed Asana Sequence Guide (pdf) with clear photos for each movement.
This 53-minute yoga class is designed for expectant mothers. Given this, instructor Jen Fleisher makes frequent references to “babe,” with statements such as “look towards babe” or “move babe towards the right.” A wall is used at times for added support, and at the end of the session, Fleisher has the participants rest on additional props, including two bolsters, a blanket, and two blocks. This audio practice is accompanied by a full-color photographic guide to the postures, making it easier to follow along (although there were a few times when I found it difficult to match up the audio with the asana guide).The audio jumps right into the first posture without any setup: students are seated with their backs against the wall, legs crossed, supported on a bolster. From here, Fleisher has the class come to their hands and knees for spinal stretches, a neck stretch, a variation on bird-dog, and then full bird-dog (alternate arm-leg balance) adding a “ha!” breath. After a brief rest in child’s pose, the participants transition to standing in a wide semi-squat or goddess pose. As the students hold this position, Fleisher cues rocking from side-to-side, hip circles, and pelvic tilts, all the while keeping the focus on “babe.”A long sequence follows. It begins with a slight standing backbend, curving the upper body back while reaching the clasped hands back and down. Next, the students come down to the floor for a wide squat (Fleisher sometimes refers to this posture as “Mama’s Pose” and sometimes as “Camper’s Pose”; the asana guide did not make a clear distinction between the two). From the squat, Fleisher has the class come into a low lunge, adding a twist and then moving into lizard pose to stretch the outer hip and groin. A cat/cow series provides the transition back to standing into a flowing goddess pose with arm movements, and then the entire sequence is repeated on the other side.The finishing postures are all performed at the wall. The first is a very nice stretch for both the hamstring and upper back, but the setup can be a little tricky, so users will need to listen closely to Fleisher’s instructions as well as to consult their asana guides. Next, Fleisher has the students set up two bolsters in a reclined position against the wall, and the class performs lotus prep (aka tailors pose) while leaning back against the bolsters. Fleisher’s version of savasana is called “couch potato”: still leaning against the bolsters, she has the participants place a rolled blanket under their thighs and blocks under each arm. After a mostly silent rest (about 6 minutes), Fleisher brings the class back to seated to conclude the practice.Although I have never been pregnant myself, I have no doubt that this class is likely not only to be accessible to expectant mothers but also to provide much-needed relief and restoration. In addition to her references to “babe,” Fleisher frequently refers to individual differences in pregnancy—e.g., she will say that if your lower back is bothering you, this pose might help, but if your hips are giving you problems, you might need to back off a bit. Even without being pregnant, I found this to be an enjoyable practice providing some nice therapeutic work for my hips and low back; any woman looking for a fairly gentle restorative practice might enjoy this class.