Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On pregnancy

I am reading the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, because…Well folks, I’m pregnant! Today I am 15 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I have had so many happy times in my life lately, but this one trumps them all. It just seems to be one happiness on top of another for the past 2 years. This life of mine continues to spin in a direction I never thought it would have 5 years ago. But thankfully, I have found peace with myself, strength in my mind and a sense of balance in my spirit. Who knew that walking into a Bikram yoga studio 6 years ago would have begun the series of events that have gotten me to where I am now? Life works so mysteriously.

Back to my point… this book I am reading is full of a lot of great information. When I’m feeling a little lightheaded, I turn to the book to see why it’s happening and if it is normal. When my heart starts racing a little more than usual because I’ve eaten too much, I turn to the book and find out what is going on inside my body and why. It’s a really great resource for a newly pregnant woman who has never done this before. However, there is one item I have just gotten to that talks about working out and exercise while pregnant that really made my jaw drop. Here is the except:

“Stay cool. Any exercise or environment that raises a pregnant woman’s temperature more than 1.5 degrees should be avoided. So stay out of saunas, steam rooms, or hot tubs, and don’t exercise outdoors in very hot or humid weather or indoors in a stuffy, overheated room (no Bikram yoga).” p 218

I do actually understand that we don’t want our internal temperature to rise too much, if at all. I get this. But who is to say that our temperatures are actually getting higher just because we are sweating in the hot room? Has the author of this book ever even taken a Bikram yoga class? You should see the “exercises” they are suggesting to women! I don’t know that I would call them exercise. They are laughable. I suppose, if the reader is someone who has never done a thing in her life, then perhaps these exercises would account for something. I mean, at least it would get you up and moving. But I can’t see what moving my neck from side to side four times, then sitting Indian style and reaching up toward the ceiling, then doing a shoulder stretch, where you grab your elbow and pull it to the other side of your body would actually do for me. Are these exercises really going to prepare my physical strength and mental stamina for child birth?

I have been practicing Bikram yoga for 6 years, so yes, I am someone who knows my body and my limits very well. I am certainly not saying that a woman who has never done Bikram yoga before should decide to take it up for the first time in the middle of her pregnancy, but you know what? You could! The pregnancy series is actually quite brilliant. Now that I am doing it, I have an even greater appreciation for the modifications and breaks that are built in. The breaks that we take are where we create a lot of compression to our baby-bellies. So it’s Standing Head to Knee, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee and Rabbit pose. Think about what happens at this point in class… our heart rates SKYROCKET. Standing H2K, this is HUGE cardiovascular work out happening. So we take it off (because of compression to the belly, but I’m making a point here). THEN after Triangle – yowsah! Our hearts are pummeling through our chests right now. So you get a break for Standing Separate H2K. Same thing for Camel Pose… it always feels funny and gets my heart racing, so we get a break after that for Rabbit. There I times I really wish I could keep going, because I’m already starting to miss some of my old friends, like Cobra and Rabbit, but these modifications to the 26 and 2 are so well timed, I have to wonder if it was thought out intentionally back when Bikram created this series. (I sort of doubt it, and feel like it was just one of those wonderful coincidences.)

So I for one, will continue to practice my Bikram yoga as often as possible. When I am in that hot room now, I have a whole new sense of myself. I walk out of that room feeling so good for me, and so good for the little being growing inside me. I know it is making me physically strong and mentally powerful. I am more aware of everything that is happening with my body and with what I am feeling, because I have someone else to take care of now, besides just myself. My ego is no longer in that room with me. I’ve got a new sidekick cheering me on… I can feel it.