You're pregnant! However, your elation is tempered by concerns about how this will affect your exercise routine or if you really need a workout now to prepare for childbirth. Relax (really). Shiva Rea has got your aching back and all the other muscles and joints you'll need to pamper. Rank beginner or seasoned yogi, Prenatal Yoga With Shiva Rea has a routine for you.
Shiva Rea, Global Teacher
Shiva Rea was named for the Hindu deity of dance, dissolution, and recreation by her surfer dad in California. Always a devotee of an active lifestyle, Rea ended up teaching yoga as she pursued graduate studies in dance anthropology. But a series of personal tragedies and a serious accident derailed her career plans and sent her deeper into her vinyasa yoga practice to heal. Rea pursued her yoga studies in India, Africa, Nepal, Jamaica, and Bali, finished an MA in Dance and changed course, becoming a global prana vinyasa yoga teacher.
Pregnancy led to experimentation and adaption of Rea's daily asanas to her changing body and energy levels. She shared her prenatal prep with her students and discovered an under served legion of women -- practicing yogis and wannabes -- all in need of pregnancy-specific sequences and poses. Today, Shiva Rea runs workshops and trainings in her methods worldwide, teaches at her alma mater, UCLA's World Arts and Cultures Program, and is a frequent contributor to Yoga Journal magazine.
Products for a Prenatal Practice
The videos in the Shiva Rea Prenatal Yoga series cover four main areas of practice and can be used consecutively or broken up if time or energy are in short supply. They are aimed at a developing pregnancy and accommodate a rank beginner to yoga, as well. If you have a regular yoga practice, you'll probably find the system easy -- even too gentle and unchallenging -- during your first trimester when you can still handle a modified version of your customary class. However, Rea's softer approach allows you to adapt more vigorous poses to replace jumps, twists, and inversions, and avoid any stress that might lead to problems. If you're a yoga newbie, the videos invite you in without taxing your body and risking any muscle strain.
Each of the four videos on DVD -- Prana, Standing Poses, Floor Work, Guided Relaxation -- is set up like a class. You follow right along, in flow with the sequence, using one of the three demonstrators as your guide. Each yoga teacher in the simultaneous performance is at a different stage of pregnancy, from first trimester, to showing the changes in second trimester, to the expanded belly and encumbered movement of third trimester that require more props and slightly different positions.
What to Expect
Tackle a 15-minute workout at first. Build to the entire 50-minute sequence as you gain familiarity with the poses, find your comfortable modifications, and develop stamina. Rea's video sessions cover:
- Meditation and breathing exercises
- An easy warm-up
- Slow squats to open the hips for childbirth
- Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
- Standing poses to promote strength and balance (important when the growing baby makes balance a constant challenge)
- Gentle stretches to ease tight muscles and release tension
- Seated poses to work the back, hips, and hamstrings
- Strength-building poses for upper and lower body
- A guided relaxation to soothe stress and focus attention on connecting with the developing baby
Where to Find It
The DVD is no longer widely available; you might have some luck on eBay, specialist suppliers online such as Yoga Outlet, or Amazon Canada. Ready access now is through a subscription to Gaiam TV that lets you stream the videos at home or on your mobile device. The suggested props for adapting and modifying the poses are readily available: a blanket, a yoga brick or block, a yoga strap, and a chair. Use your mat or practice on a padded rug for extra non-skid grip and comfort.
Accolades From Moms-to-Be
Expecting mom commenters on Amazon who try the program tend to be very enthusiastic. They enjoyed the flow and pace and many noted it helped them feel prepared for labor and more mobile.
Shiva Rea's calming voice and the three models, one for each trimester of pregnancy, also got high points from women who appreciated the simple-to-follow stages as their pregnancies progressed.
Most critiques of the program were from seasoned yogis who found it too easy for early pregnancy when mobility is relatively unchallenged. Negative comments included:
- "Good for beginners...not so much with experience..."
- "Finding this really easy right now (just shy of 4 months pregnant), but I think it will be great in a month or two when my belly comes in..."
Shiva's Workout, in Short
If you're a Shiva Rea fan or if you're searching for a yoga program to take you through your entire pregnancy, check online sellers or your library for Prenatal Yoga With Shiva Rea and try it on for size. Your local yoga studio may offer vinyasa prenatal yoga classes based on Rea's method, or even taught by a Shiva Rea-trained instructor. Always check with your healthcare provider before adding any exercise program to your pre-baby schedule. But do explore what a gentle, focused yoga routine can do to lower stress and improve your fitness in preparation for the big event.