Monday, May 23, 2011

DVD Review ~ Yoga for Your Pregnancy

Yoga for Your Pregnancy featuring Kristin Eykel and published by Yoga Journal & Lamaze is a well designed, well presented, and well thought out production. The lighting, color and photography is superb.

The DVD offers two main practices for prenatal (30 minute Rejuvenating and 15 min Relaxation) plus an additional 16 minute postnatal practice. Other bonus tracks include Pranayama (7 min), Guided Meditation (5 min), Yoga in the Birthing Room (5 min), Lamaze philosophy overview plus interview with Carol Penn-Erskine (5 min) and a meet the teacher section (5 min).

The two prenatal practices showed variations for propping including using a chair but did not always offer alternatives if a pose was impossible in the body. For example, one of the poses offered was Camel. Now, as a therapeutic yoga teacher, I can say that maybe 1 or 2 of my 100+ students can do this pose without pain in the knees or the sacrum. Most of the folks I teach do not have the flexibility required for propless, high-test poses like Camel.

If an option for setting up blocks by the feet were presented, or an option for sitting on the chair and clasping the hands behind the back or at the chair-back while back-bending over the chair were presented, I would feel more comfortable recommending the DVD. But as a therapeutic teacher,  I felt very uncomfortable with a few of the omissions.

On the other hand, I know that the focus was on yoga for pregnancy and not every option can be covered in one DVD. The teacher seemed very knowledgeable about pregnancy, had been through a pregnancy herself and the other demonstrators on the DVD were pregnant themselves. I enjoyed learning more about Lamaze and since the teacher has a Kundalini background, I enjoyed the Kundalini-Hatha hybrid she presented.

One other curiosity: not once was Mula Bandha or the pelvic floor mentioned - not even in the postnatal practice. After birthing, I know pelvic floor exercises are a must-do to regain the tone required to avoid incontinence and to keep all the organs in place. I don't know a lot about pregnancy yoga so maybe someone can help me out here. Shouldn't a prenatal yogi practice Mula Bandha (kegel exercises)? Or is that too much upward energy before giving birth?


Laurel and Noah said...

Our birth class is having us do 200 or more Kegels each week to prepare. This is a very helpful review, Sara, thank you!

Laurel and Noah said...

Sorry, I meant 200 Kegels daily.

Sara said...

200 a day?! Wow. That's great. Well, maybe the DVD producer is assuming that if you are doing yoga for pregnancy then you are probably learning other pregnancy related stuff from other people and would incorporate pelvic floor awareness into your practice.

But still, I would've liked it to incorporate more pelvic floor awareness and exercise and more SI joint issues.

Amber said...

Hi Sara,

I think pelvic floor awareness is hugely important in pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The pelvic floor has to be so strong to support the added weight of the baby during pregnancy and it has to be so incredibly flexible, relaxed and resilient to allow passage of the baby and then return to its supporting role. Kegel exercises are important, but I have appreciated, and found better results from the subtlety of the core work of therapeutic yoga, emphasizing both the need for strength and the need to be able to let go.

Also, I learned a great modification of camel pose in a prenatal class. We sat on our heels with our knees spread out wide, leaned back to put hands on the floor and then lifted hips and bellies up to the sky. It was so beautiful to see a room full of pregnant mamas doing this together, and nobody seemed to complain of sacrum or knee pain!

Thanks for the review,

Sara said...

Hi Amber - Thanks for the comments. I agree with your statement of needing both the holding/ strengthening and the letting go.

Also, it is so interesting what you said about how to do Camel. This DVD started Camel the same - hands behind on the floor - but also offered the option of walking the hands to the backs of the heels.

For me, and for many of my students with knee issues, this is still not an option. But sounds like for pregnancy it is commonly taught?

What about your SI joints in this version of the pose? How do they feel?

Amber said...

Hi again, Sara! I typically don't have issues with my knees...but have occasionally. I suspect that I overstretched ligaments in my knees and SI area during pregnancy and have lingering instability for it. This would have been true in the camel pose, but also in lunges and other standing and seated poses...Did the DVD talk about the risks of over stretching during pregnancy? There is a lot of the hormone relaxin in the body to help the body expand, loosen, open up, and my understanding is that without careful attention to stability, the ligaments can stretch and then not return to their original length. Does that help? I like the online dialogue!

Sara said...

Hi Amber - I don't recall if the video talked about relaxin and over stretching. Would you be interested in seeing the video? I'd be happy to send it to you.