Community Spotlight: Prenatal Yoga

By Paulina Julian (RYT500 / RPYT)

Prenatal yoga community

It takes a village

Long before prenatal yoga classes, the image of a village surrounding the birth and growth of a baby has always been essential.  It is so natural to want to gather, to share the news of our babies’ arrivals with loved ones, to seek support in their growth and development, to yearn for the loving presence of people we are close to for support in the transition into parenthood.  

Of course, times have changed, and with so much globalization and movement, many times we  become parents away from our birth and family place.  I think when it is the first child, it is tempting to think that “we got this”, or “we can do it alone”.  But the need for interconnectedness and support during the transformative years of raising a child is vital. Community gives meaning to our new role as parents, and prenatal yoga is one way to access this kind of community. It is a true refuge.

How I found community at Yoga Garden SF

Yoga Garden SF has provided a space for parents and young children to be in community with each other for many years now. The building itself used to be the owner´s home, so it has had the homelike environment that we crave as parents. The prenatal and postnatal yoga programs offered at YGSF provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment throughout a mother´s journey from conception to her postpartum stage and beyond. The physical space of the studio has provided an opportunity to gather together with other mothers and babies, to breathe, move, study, share, and assimilate during those months of such profound transition. This has been an offering from YGSF to many families, with a most beneficial and lasting effect.

I first attended Yoga Garden 7 years ago, after practicing yoga for many years, and having just moved from Mexico to SF.   At that time, my husband and I were considering starting a family, although it was a tough decision as we had no family close by to hold our hands in this step.  I happened to see a flyer for YGSF’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training and instantly decided to sign up.   The training was a wonderful way to empower myself, and to learn more about the process of pregnancy from many perspectives: physiological, anatomical, mental, and through the lens of yoga. It was an essential piece in helping me feel ready to embark on the journey of motherhood. I soon began to teach prenatal and postnatal classes at the studio, and soon after became pregnant and continued to teach throughout my own pregnancy. In this way, I created a community of mom friends with whom I was to share the path of motherhood for years to come.

Building Community in a COVID world 

Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves in the midst of a huge global crisis. The COVID pandemic has shifted the way in which we can support each other through this journey.  We don’t have the physical shared space, the closeness of those who can hold our babies, the park gatherings of mothers with newborns. But we do have the resiliency and adaptability that is and has always been our blessing as humans. We are urged to find new ways to connect with other families, to build villages, to share the growth pains and joys of parenthood.   

Yoga Garden has adapted to this new reality without missing a beat.  First and foremost, we continue to offer a refuge for young families, through a number of weekly prenatal and postnatal yoga classes.  In each class, we get to “be in each other’s homes” through the little Zoom windows, sharing a peek into our nurseries, living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens: our new makeshift yoga studios.  We get to show up for each other and our weekly growing bellies, share what week of pregnancy we’re in, the questions and insights of each stage. We all get the rush of oxytocin (the love hormone) when new babies are introduced via the little Zoom screen squares. We continue to move and breathe and practice together, just like we always have. Perhaps even more meaningfully now, when we are urged to undo isolation, and reach out to receive and offer each other the gift of the village.

Some recent feedback from our students:

“Yoga Garden’s weekly classes have provided me with the confidence that I am seen and heard, and that each class is geared toward the needs of the women in class that day.”

“I see the difference between women who are so stressed about birth, and those who have been practicing yoga throughout their pregnancy. I feel that through these classes and community, I am ready for the birth of my twins!”

“I love the compassionate way we each show up for each other. Many times what other moms share on a given week, helps me to figure something out about the questions that come up in the weeks of pregnancy.”

“It’s a relief that I can bring my baby to class, whether he’s sleeping, crying, or just hanging out. I mute my computer microphone, and I just show up and practice as we are that day. I always feel better after.”

“Many times I think, today I don’t think I’ll make it to class. I have so much to do. But still, I do, I take the time to practice and show up for myself and other moms. And every time, I feel better afterwards, and I know it’s the best way to support myself and my baby.”

Join our community!

We don’t know what the future holds in terms of socializing and being with each other. But what is true and has always been, is the deep desire for interconnectedness. It’s in our blood, it’s in our essential needs as humans. It is our responsibility to reach out and find spaces where this need can be translated into reality. These babies are the future generation, coming bright and strong into the world that so urgently needs their pure, fresh light. Together we practice, and, as my teacher says: “we live like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters.”

Yoga Garden’s Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training starts October 17, 2020. Enroll today!

Prenatal and postnatal yoga classes meet several times per week. Find the class that fits your schedule HERE. We can’t wait to meet you (and your little one)!