Given my demographic and interests, it was no surprise when I was pregnant that I signed up for prenatal yoga. At nine weeks, already stretching out regular workout pants, I proudly brought my purple yoga mat, water bottle and crabby self to yoga.
I live in one of those towns that’s always ranked in the Top Ten of something, so I assumed the prenatal offerings would be the same. Well, not quite.
Upon the start of class, our instructor asked us to form a circle. Uh oh. And this is coming from someone who teaches a fairly free-spirited movement form. A circle. And this wasn’t a workshop. I dutifully formed the circle, crossed my legs and waited for the instructor to start. It appeared she wanted us to share our feelings. Our feelings? I didn’t know these people and wanted to get some sort of workout, having already maxed out my “big” pants but battling excruciating round ligament pain.
Like what I’ve seen on TV interpretations of AA meetings, we all went around and stated our name, that our problem was pregnancy and how long we were in the process. “My name is Sally, I’m 21 weeks pregnant and I feel really good.” “My name is Franny, I’m 37 weeks, and I’m really ready for this baby to be born.”
My turn. “My name is M. I’m eight weeks pregnant and I feel gross. My boobs hurt too much to sleep on my stomach and I feel really puffy.” Crickets. Stares. What – I wasn’t marveling at my changing form?
My good friend, E, a few weeks ahead of me in the pregnancy game, also joined me in suffering. We just couldn’t wait to exercise.
Eventually we did, dutifully moving on our mats like bloated dolphins, hoping to magically expand our hips (for birthing, the spreading had already taken over) and learn breathing techniques to ease our child birthing process.
E and I couldn’t take the trust circles and feelings. Pregnancy had made us sympathetic, but not exactly patient.
Fortunately we found another class. No circles. Just two rows of bellies doing sun salutations and hip openers with a fantastic teacher. Happy, E and I attended each week, smiling as we slowly but surely found ourselves able to do less and less range of movement. Large squats turned into humongous sits on blocks. Legs started to move farther and farther apart to make room for stretching bellies. “I think my baby is going to fall out,” E said during one class. We were both toward the end, and with her second one inside, she knew the rumblings better than I.
As I think back to my pregnancy, I often marvel at the whole process, but I always think fondly of E and I and others grunting over non-skid mats, breathing in and into various poses, growing a life inside while living on the outside.