-How long have you been practicing Bikram Yoga? I took my first class early in 2009. A friend of mine told me I had to try it. I came twice with her and thought I would never come back. I remember thinking, these people are crazy... 105 degrees? My hands where? But once I turned 30 I decided to take my health more serious. The gym never suited me. I didn't see the point to running and I always got shin splints. Then, I saw a Groupon for Bikram Yoga. I decided for $40 why not give it one more shot. Even if I only go to 3 classes I practically got my moneys worth. When I started back and something was different. I found myself coming 5-6 days a week. On the days I wasn't at the studio I felt like something was missing in my day. I was practicing for about 6 months non stop and then I found out I was pregnant. I didn't find out until I was 6 weeks along. I remember coming home from a Yoga class and I passed out on the couch without a shower. When I woke up the next day still on the couch, still without a shower, I took a pregnancy test.
-You practiced the whole way through your pregnancy, do you think it helped in any way? Absolutely. I was nervous my doctor wouldn't agree with me keeping up with my practice. Luckily, he didn't see any need for me to stop doing what my body was already use to. He told me just to make sure my teacher knew. So, I told all the teachers I was pregnant before I even told my parents. I couldn't believe how accommodating everyone was. I immediately got my spot by the door (aka the breakfast nook). I started the pregnancy series right away even though at 7 weeks it isn't necessary to do it that soon. I will admit, I wasn't sure exactly what I would get out of my practice during labor, but I figured it couldn't hurt. I knew I wanted a natural childbirth and hoped all the work in class could help me through it without any medical interventions.
Around 9 weeks I got sciatica, a shooting pain down my left side. I told the teachers and we made a few adjustments to my series. After the first class with those adjustments I immediately felt better. After a few classes, the pain was completely gone and never came back. Some women have sciatica their entire pregnancy. I thank Bikram Yoga I wasn't one of them.
My last class was ten days before Mila was born. I went into labor on February 11th around 1:30. I arrived at the hospital around 4:30. Since I was doing a natural childbirth, I hired a Doula to help me through everything. When she was looking at the monitor and watching the contractions she thought I was handling them very well and asked me what I was thinking of when I was breathing through them. I told her, every time a contraction comes, I close my eyes all I can see is my spot in the Yoga studio. I just imagined myself in the hot room and all the support my Yoga friends had been giving me. After 6 hours of labor in the hospital, Mila Alexis arrived in perfect health without medical interventions.
-How do you feel after having the baby? Amazing. I was out and about 1 week after giving birth. I felt like my normal self (other than the lack of sleep) after 1 month. I started coming back to the studio after 6 weeks when I got the all clear from my doctor. The pounds dropped off immediately. Some might argue that is because I was so fit before pregnancy. Maybe they are right, but I was so fit because of Bikram yoga, not beating my body up at the gym.
-Any words of wisdom for other expectant mothers practicing? First, my husband and family's support has been most important to me. But, I can't tell you how much it has meant to me to have support from my fellow yogis. I never even expected it. 2 different yogis told me I was an inspiration to them. One said, "its hard enough for me to get here and do what I do, I admire you for getting here." Another said they thought it was amazing that I am sharing my practice with my daughter. She said its such a great thing to share with her and I'm already taking such good care of her. I remember Sherie always telling the class, "If this Yoga is so good for us, imagine how good it is for your unborn baby."
Will practicing Bikram Yoga guarantee a natural childbirth and healthy baby? We all know there are no guarantees but I do know my pregnancy and birth were perfect. I wouldn't change a thing. Even if you are having an epidural, all the hip opening exercises are sure to help. I would practice through my next pregnancy (if there is one) and would recommend anyone that has a regular practice keep theirs up as long as their body will let them throughout pregnancy. This yoga truly is amazing.
I just want to say thanks to Zeb, Shannon, Danielle, Maggie, Sherie (wherever you are), my 10am friends and everyone else at the studio for helping make my pregnancy so special.