NYC’s Best Prenatal Yoga Teachers Share their Favorite Moves
A portrait series and prenatal vinyasa sequence that will leave you breathless.
There’s so many incredible benefits of prenatal yoga, for both the body and mind. Practicing yoga throughout pregnancy can not only keep you centered as a mom-to-be, but yoga poses for labor can also help you prep for birth, and create a strong foundation for motherhood.
Luckily, here in New York City, we have some of the best prenatal yoga teachers out there. We asked the very talented photographer and birth doula Laura Vladimirova to document some of those prenatal yoga teachers in their favorite prenatal yoga poses. Below, find Laura’s beautiful portraits, ordered in a very special prenatal vinyasa sequence you can do at home. Namaste.
- Neelu Shruti, Love Child YogaPose: SquatWe do squats because it’s the widest position for our pelvic floor. It’s why we go to the bathroom in a squat. Not only are we building flexibility in our pelvic floor but we’re also building strength in our glutes and our quads to help carry our belly more efficiently. This way we can avoid hip pain, low back pain, climb stairs and go to Italy even when we’re 80!
- Mia Borgatta, Lila Yoga, Dharma & WellnessPose: Goddess PoseThis goddess pose is from a partner intensity practice that we sometimes do in class. Intensity practices have the intention of familiarizing us with our reactions to physical challenge and discomfort. The exploration of this edge helps uncover responses that involve inner resources such as breath, focus and movement. Each woman is different, and prenatal yoga classes help her discover her innate powers and also introduce more tools for coping. Birth challenges us to uncover who we can be and find new levels of acceptance for who we are.
- Sage Caprice Abowitt, Prenatal Yoga CenterPose: Triangle PoseAll standing poses that are appropriate for a prenatal class can be useful in building endurance and confidence during pregnancy and labor. Additionally, Triangle Pose offers so much for the pregnant body: lengthening of a compressed spine, an opening of rounded or tight chest, sides, and ribcage, and a stretch for tired or achy legs. Triangle is also a pose that is easy to flow into other wonderful standing poses. Vinyasa is the basis for our classes at Prenatal Yoga Center, so I love including Triangle in the flow of class for our students.
- Shahar Lion, Kula Yoga Project Williamsburg, 14th Street YPose: Warrior II PoseWarrior II is a pose that demonstrates how beautifully the body and mind can work together. This pose strengthens the muscles of the legs, lengthens the inner thighs, stretches the pelvic floor muscles and stabilizes the pelvis. The posture naturally boosts the mama’s confidence and sense of empowerment. It can be done in all three trimesters and may be easily modified when needed.
- Lara Kohn Thompson, Bend and Bloom Yoga , Kula Yoga Project, Integral Yoga Institute Pose: Spinal Twist from Table PositionThis gentle spinal twist is a wonderful way to open the chest and create extension all the way through to arms, wrists and fingers. It Increases the feeling of length in the spine as she twists, all the while providing stability and strength. It can be done in a flowing sequence with breath and is wonderful to fit within a warm up sequence.
- Keiko Niccolini, Yoga Shanti Pose: Seated Spinal TwistAlways stability over mobility for my ladies! I believe that self care is a necessary method of motherhood which begins during pregnancy. I use the postures of yoga to teach women how to practically and safely strengthen and carry themselves through the transitions of gravity. I use these same postures to help women access the inherent, embedded wisdom which resides deep in the body to nurture and build confidence in the emerging mother-to-be. I love this posture, it offers gorgeous rotation of the spine which helps with back stiffness, it broadens across the collar bones, opens the heart offering relief to the shoulders and neck, and is very precise in its seat. Proper arrangement of your hip joints and the use of your pelvic floor to support your structure is the name of the game for lower back care, ease, and safety during pregnancy and postpartum. Comfort, confidence, security, ease and an open heart – this is what I want for all brand new mothers and mothers-to-be.
- Kasia Sanvee, Golden Bridge YogaPose: Keep-up ExerciseThis is an exercise to build your mental stamina. You will feel increasing discomfort and burning sensation in your arms after about a minute, and your negative mind will tell you to drop your arms. Just observe those thoughts coming through your mind, bring your focus back to your breath and KEEP UP. You are stronger than what your mind is telling you. Say to yourself that you can do it, that you’re strong, that there’s just a bit longer to go, that you’re already doing it and that you’ve come so far. This exercise is excellent in preparation for labor and birth. It is helpful in building strength of mind and character. Done every day, it will make you stronger and prepare you for the mental challenge of labor and birth. You will find your own ways of coping and of overcoming the dialog your mind naturally goes into at first. This exercise in Kundalini Yoga is also known for extracting fear from your body, it will help you break through fear when it threatens to overwhelm you. It is excellent at any point in pregnancy and in labor.
- Hess Kim, Yoga UnionPose: Prone SavasanaI love being able to offer this variation of savasana to bring respite to pregnant women that have been unable to lie on their abdomens or backs. As a doula, this also gives me easy access to the back so that I can apply additional comfort massage. The bolster over the sacrum acts as counter pressure and helps neutralize the often hyperlordotic spines of pregnant women. The pose can be adjusted to accommodate all body proportions! A great add on is the forehead facing the bolster and resting on a blanket to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and quiet the mind.
All portraits by Laura Vladimirova for Well Rounded NY.