Yoga for pregnant women offers specialized training


Wanting the best for their babies, pregnant women Kim Dittu (36 weeks) and Trish Ward (due in October) take Yoga For Mamas, which differs from traditional yoga.

"I encourage women in the second and third trimester to really come to a prenatal class, or meet with an instructor who's had a baby, because we understand how to modify correctly," says yoga expert and author Desi Bartlett, who teaches the class.

Bartlett, who is newly pregnant, says she sees a lack of education in training pregnant women.

"I've heard about trainers who have held women in forearm plank for as long as they possibly can during second trimester, and there's no reason for that," says Bartlett.

Deep twisting poses? Also inappropriate.

"Twists are all about expelling. That's the last thing we want to do," says Bartlett.

The idea is to prepare for the big event. Just like those getting ready for a marathon, they need tips on how to relax some areas and strengthen others for labor and delivery.

At this time of a woman's life, the front of her body, the rectus abdominis is expanding. This is not a time to tighten up. Rather, to expand. This is when they'll want to focus on the side, or oblique, muscles.

"What we want to do is we want to start to strengthen the side body, the obliques, and also the lower back," said Bartlett.

"As the baby is growing, the belly is pulling forward and the low back is compressing, and you get sort of that 'Donald Duck' posture," says Bartlett. "So what I teach my gals is to press the tailbone down and that will automatically draw the belly up and in, safely."

Bartlett also watches for diastasis recti: a separation of the abdominal wall muscle that stems from improper exercise, lack of it, or too much weight gain. But it can be alleviated with a trained instructor or physical therapy.

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