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Powerful Prenatal Yoga

Desi Bartlett, a pre- and postnatal yoga and fitness expert, is the mother of two boys (six-year-old Cruz and 14-month-old Nico) and a big believer in the strength of a fit pregnant body. Her new DVD, Gaiam’s Prenatal Yoga Workout with Desi Bartlett, proves it, offering two different workouts and modifications for all three trimesters. We chatted with her about the project.

The Development

My intention for the DVD was to focus on strength on the days when we feel amazing—the Strong Mama workout—and flexibility and maintaining strength levels on the days when we might feel like we need to take it a little easier—the Cool Mama sequence. I have been in the fitness industry for over 20 years, but started to specialize in prenatal yoga and fitness seven years ago when I was pregnant with my first son. I know firsthand that labor and delivery are comparable to running a marathon: We need strength, endurance and mental stamina to feel empowered and successful.

Lessons Learned

Each woman’s pregnancy is different. With my first son, my body asked for more gentle movement: restorative yoga, swimming, walking. With my second pregnancy, I had a surge of power that allowed me to continue to enjoy a very strong yoga practice and easily work with the resistance of my growing body. It is important to honor our inner guidance, as well as the feedback of the little one within.

Expert Advice

Don’t Forget to Breathe: There is a myth that we are “eating for two” during pregnancy. What I prefer to teach is that we are “breathing for two.” Oxygen is carried across the placenta to the baby and is vital for development. Breathe deeply and drink plenty of water.

Work Out for Five to Ten Minutes and See How You Feel: If after your warm-up you are feeling great, work with your energy and continue. If you are feeling not so great, take it easy. Pregnant bodies are extremely busy constructing the body of the baby inside. Some days we feel like goddesses and other days we don’t. Stay open and honest with yourself.

Squat: Squats are my single favorite exercise during pregnancy. In the DVD, I included 40 squats for the 40 weeks of pregnancy, broken up into sets. Squatting helps to increase lower body strength and provides the opportunity to specifically strengthen the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor strength is associated with more productive pushing and easier recovery after birth. Additionally, a woman can deliver in the squatting position if she and her care provider deem the position suitable.

Work Out Smart

A woman’s body is truly miraculous. The body’s signals are quite clear. Pregnancy is not the time to walk it off or to get overwhelmed by expectations that we might have set when not pregnant. Don’t ever feel like it is a bad thing to rest when you need to. Your body is making a baby and that is a lot of work. Working out should be a source of empowerment. Let it be an opportunity to bond with your baby, to feel great about your powerful body and to reaffirm that it knows how to do this. You are a strong, powerful mama!


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