Pregnant women in Michigan use yoga to relax

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BY SHERI MCWHIRTER
Traverse City Record-Eagle
AP Member Exchange
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A group of pregnant women gather each week to get Zen together and practice yoga with their soon-to-be-born babies.
Yen Yoga & Fitness in downtown Traverse City offers a multi-week prenatal yoga program for pregnant women who seek to build strength, reduce stress and improve both body and baby awareness as they approach their due dates. The course is taught by certified prenatal yoga instructor Naomi Cole who said the experience is meant to help women cope with the effects of pregnancy.
“It’s designed to help women with normal pregnancy aches and pains,” she told the Traverse City Record-Eagle .
Cole said prenatal yoga classes include several helpful postures, including hip and pelvis openers, butterfly poses and goddess squats. Also part of the class is restorative postures to enhance blood flow to the baby, she said.
“We build strength and increase energy and flexibility. It aids focus, decreases stress and decreases or eliminates discomfort,” Cole said. “It promotes circulation, good alignment, proper posture, body awareness and bonding with baby.”
Erika Corcoran of Traverse City said she’s taken Cole’s prenatal yoga class during both of her pregnancies, including her current one now in the third trimester.
“I liked how it gave me special time away to focus on myself and my mind with all the changes taking place with my body,” Corcoran said.
Classes take place in a darkened room at the yoga studio’s annex facility in downtown Traverse City. Breathing exercises learned in the class even became quite helpful when actual labor happened with her first daughter, Corcoran said.
The program was so helpful, Corcoran said she happily registered again during her second pregnancy.
“I think it’s even better the second time around because this time, almost all my time is focused on my daughter,” she said. “For an hour I stop and think about the new baby.”
Corcoran said she highly recommends the prenatal yoga workshop series through Yen Yoga & Fitness to other pregnant women, especially those who could benefit from a slower-paced, relaxing and reflective experience with a focus on awareness and breathing.
Cole is certified to teach prenatal yoga through the Yoga Mamas program of Yoga Tree San Francisco. She also is a trained and certified birth and postpartum doula, and even teaches postpartum yoga classes.
“The fun thing is if the moms have done prenatal, a lot of the babies know my voice and settle right now when (postpartum) class starts,” Cole said, laughing.
A new prenatal yoga series will begin Wednesday, though only a few openings remain available. Additionally, Cole in February will teach a prenatal and postpartum yoga combination class at Table Health at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.