I was in such a state of astonishment when I discovered I was pregnant that I don’t even think I believed it until my son was born. Like many mothers, I found that no matter how much (or how little) I planned and prepared, motherhood came as a shock. Cultural and social narratives told me about the bliss, the “glow,” the falling-in-love-with-your-baby parts of the journey, but they didn’t mention the struggle, pain, discomfort, grief and loss that I felt during pregnancy and certainly during the first months and years of motherhood. It was socially acceptable to complain of morning sickness, heartburn and fatigue, but I seemed to get a deaf ear to anything less than ecstatic joy about my pending child. The truth was, I found pregnancy and motherhood to be extremely emotional journeys, and when those emotions fell in the negative end of the range, what followed was often shame and isolation.
Yoga has taught me to honor and accept a full spectrum of emotions, to recognize that both positive and negative ends are natural and important parts of the human experience, and to steady myself in this recognition and acceptance. Yoga, during pregnancy and throughout motherhood, can be a grounding force — a practice of healing and self-care that gives permission to feel it all and to continually reconnect to ourselves and each other in a way that supports personal and family well-being.
Signing up for a pre- or postnatal yoga class connects women who are on a similar path. The Asana practice builds strength, increases energy and flexibility, reduces pain and discomfort, prepares our bodies for labor and childbirth, and helps us to heal and recover our bodies postpartum. Yoga gives us permission to be supported, both physically, with props, and emotionally, by sharing experiences and learning from others. Yoga classes are also great resources in our community for support through pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood.
For me, yoga has been just that — a means of accessing support as I continually approach the ever-changing realities of a life as a mother. Yoga and the community I have found through the practice have helped me find my bearings and glimpse joy even in the most mundane moments of motherhood. And although the anxiety and worry still clutter my mind, I know in my practice, there is always a path home.
Pre/Postnatal Yoga and Fitness
Birthfit: Prenatal, postpartum and “Before the Bump” programs subscribe to four pillars — fitness, nutrition, chiropractic and mindset — to support a woman through the transition to motherhood. Undisputed Fitness, 1221 Flagman Way B1, Santa Fe; santafe.birthfit.com/or undisputedfitness.com/events/, or contact Jen at email@example.com. (505) 231-5790.
Mama + Me Yoga: Open to moms and babies, Tuesdays at 10 a.m., by donation. Participants must sign up online to reserve a space. Railyard Fitness, 703 Camino de la Familia, Santa Fe; www.railyardfit.com/classes/. (505) 983-7909.
Postnatal / Mama + Me Yoga: Six-week series, open to moms and pre-crawling babies, Sundays at 4 p.m., beginning June 3. Sign up for the series, or drop in. Santa Fe Community Yoga Center, 826 Camino de Monte Rey, Suite B1, Santa Fe; www.santafecommunityyoga.org/class-schedule/. (505) 820-9363.
Prenatal Yoga: Sundays at 9 a.m., by donation. Santa Fe Community Yoga Center, 826 Camino de Monte Rey, Suite B1, Santa Fe; www.santafecommunityyoga.org/class-schedule/. (505) 820-9363.
Yoga for Pregnant and New Moms: Mondays at 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10 a.m., free. United Way of Santa Fe County Early Learning Center, 3164 Agua Fria Street, Santa Fe, www.uwsfc.org/events/. (505) 982-2002.
Groups for Pregnant and New Moms
Birthing the Journey, A Group for Pregnant Mothers: Free, ongoing support, two Wednesdays per month, 10 a.m. to noon. Las Cumbres Community Services in Santa Fe, 1911 Fifth Street, Suite 100, Santa Fe; www.lascumbres-nm.org/news-events. (505) 955-0410.
Childbirth Preparation Classes: Four-class series offering parents practical knowledge to prepare for birth at home, hospital or birth center. Learn about the stages of labor, coping skills, partner support, and build confidence as new parents. Offered from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays beginning May 24, Wednesdays beginning July 11, and Tuesdays beginning Aug. 21. The Birthing Tree, www.thebirthingtree.com/. (505) 552-2454.
Healing Hearts: A free group for mothers to gain support and explore the challenges of motherhood, positive body image, self-care, and maintaining a relationship after birth. Ten-week series, Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon; check website for dates. Las Cumbres Community Services, 1911 Fifth Street, Suite 100, Santa Fe. www.lascumbres-nm.org/news-events. (505) 955-0410.
Mom Support Circle: Open to all mamas, no matter what phase of this journey, providing connection, tips, and help as you navigate the challenges of motherhood. $25 per session, one Saturday per month. See website for schedule. The Birthing Tree, www.thebirthingtree.com/. (505) 552-2454.
Postpartum Recovery and Breastfeeding Classes: This stand-alone class offers expectant parents a way to adjust to life as a family while healing from the birth of a new baby. Learn how to care for your changing body, breastfeed, and ease postpartum transitions. Offered from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., June 21, Aug. 8 and Sept. 18. The Birthing Tree, www.thebirthingtree.com/. (505) 552-2454.
Ten Good Reads
Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga,by Sally Kempton (Sounds True, 2013)
Birthing From Within,by Pam England and Rob Horowitz (Partera, 1998)
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth,by Ina May Gaskin (Bantam, 2003)
Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond,by Nancy Bardacke (HarperOne, 2012)
Pelvic Liberation,by Leslie Howard (Leslie Howard Yoga, 2017)
Preparing for Birth with Yoga, by Janet Balaskas (Element Books, 1994)
The Fourth Trimester,by Kimberly Ann Johnson (Shambhala, 2017)
Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit and Joy in the Female Body,by Tami Lynn Kent (Atria Books, 2011)
Yoga Mama: The Practitioner’s Guide to Prenatal Yoga,by Linda Sparrowe (Shambhala, 2016)
Yoni Shakti: A Woman’s Guide to Power and Freedom through Yoga and Tantra,by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli (YogaWords, 2014)
Lisa Roach teaches yoga at Santa Fe Community Yoga and yoga and cycling at Santa Fe Thrive, and is a mother of two kids. Carolina Portago, a yoga teacher, Master’s student at St. John’s College and mama of a 2-year-old son, contributed to this article.