Pregnancy Health Yoga Book Explores Bump, Birth and Beyond

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I was contacted to review this new book that is out in March.  I received no compensation and all opinions expressed are my own and given freely.

Let me start by saying I wasn’t impressed by the introduction that states you can start the book after your “12-14 weeks scan” after clearance from your
“doctor”.  I was under the impression that the UK was more midwife friendly, in turn meaning less intervention friendly and anyone into gentle natural birth I had assumed would keep propaganda such as this out of their book when a simple, “12-14 weeks pregnant” and “care provider” would suffice.

With the introduction out of the way I could focus on the bulk of the book which was very impressive.  Full color photos accompanied many if not all of the postures, each section started with affirmations for the expectant mother (something I have become very fond of in my own practice) and very detailed instructions.  I was familiar with all of the postures and found them to be well explained.  With any book you can always find subjective points to take issue with.  As I have progressed as a yoga teacher and doula over the last decade I have been made aware of some flaws in my past thinking and teaching.  One such flaw that I had was the need for all pregnant women at all times of pregnancy to “tuck the tailbone under” as shown on page 54.  After a recent training in prenatal education an interesting point was brought up about birth position, fetal position and pregnancy posture.  The optimal birth position is a supported squat that allows the tailbone to move away from the pubis and create space for the baby’s head.  Too much tucking during pregnancy can have a deleterious effect on what is actually a natural change in the body.  Weight does shift forward and create a slight anterior pelvic tilt for a reason, to place baby in the optimal birth position. I agree that lengthening the spine can alleviate lower back compression, but pregnant women should not worry about tucking the tailbone all the time unless they are experiencing pain symptoms.

I also thought the example on page 105 of leaning into the hands could be a little too much for some moms to handle.  The women in the photo is in a pose similar to ustrasana (camel pose) by the last frame, a more appropriate pose that would lessen the compression of the lower back that you can visibly see would be a tabletop (shown in the postnatal section) with the hips lifted, knees bent, feet on the floor firmly – it would accomplish the task of “leaning into the hands” without the possibility of overstretching the ligaments and bands in the front.  Sadly I speak from experience on this one, I do not recommend anything close to back bending unless it is fully supported during pregnancy.

After more than a decade teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga I have not found a more complete and user friendly guide than Pregnancy Health Yoga.  After baby there is a small postnatal section in the back of the book. It also comes with a 30 minute supplemental restorative yoga DVD that follows the outline provided by the book. You can use this to help you better visualize what the book outlines, or to prep you for your first prenatal yoga class. Had I not been a yoga instructor during all three of my pregnancies I would have definitely enjoyed a book such as this, it even contains brief “birth stories” in the margins.

Lee and Attwood have created this accessible guide and DVD of key practices that takes moms-to-be through every stage of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.  They explain breath work and provide guided meditations and visualizations; illustrated step-by-step routines; a directory of postures that target common pregnancy-related ailments; and exercises to get back in shape after giving birth. This is a definite baby shower gift or congratulations on your pregnancy announcement present.

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