During my first pregnancy, I went to antenatal yoga classes once a week and really enjoyed them. To date at 28 weeks pregnant, I have yet to go to any, mainly for financial reasons. As much as I saw the benefit to attending the classes, particularly in terms of the breathing practice which I found invaluable during labour; the cost this time around has proved too significant to justify. With a toddler at home, and a partner who travels with his job, it’s also been challenging to commit to a particular day a week that I can attend consistently.
When I was given the opportunity to review an antenatal yoga DVD this felt like a great solution. Something I could do in the comfort of my own home, wearing whatever I liked without fear of being embarrassed. No travelling times to and from a venue – simply turning on the TV and getting involved once my daughter has gone to bed.
About the DVD
Yoga & Mindfullness for Pregnancy and Birth is a two part antenatal yoga DVD collection aimed at every stage of your pregnancy from 14 weeks up until the birth of your baby. Suitable for beginners and all levels, there is not a requirement to have participated in yoga previously. Nadia Raafat is a yoga and mindfulness teacher, a practicing birth doula and birth educator. She is the cofounder of Batthersea Yoga in London where she has been teaching for 10 years. As if that wasn’t enough relevant experience, Nadia is also a mother of four, having home birthed 3 of her 4 babies! This DVD was filed whilst Nadia was 8 months pregnant with her fourth child.
The DVD is split into 5 manageable antenatal yoga chunks or practices, all between 40 and 50 minutes long.
- Yoga: Flowing with the Breath (47 minutes)
- Breath awareness and moving the body in harmony with the breath’s natural rhythm.
- Yoga: Gentle Strength, Soft Power (46 minutes)
- Strengthening poses to help with present moment mindfulness.
- Yoga: Open your Body, Open your Mind (53 minutes)
- Encouraging flexibility in the shoulders, hips and pelvis in preparation for birth.
- Yoga: Support and Yield (40 minutes)
- Using the chair to explore positions and movements which can be used in labour to facilitate progress and encourage descent.
- Yoga: The Birth Dance (41 minutes)
- Encouraging you to move freely and trust your body, this class culminates in a liberating and energising birth dance.
I have been using the DVD for almost three weeks now and am really enjoying it.
I was a bit unsure what to expect when I first put it on, and wasn’t sure if I would have the motivation to “do it alone” but I have genuinely enjoyed the classes within the DVD.
I love the variety, as depending on the mood I am in or how my day has gone, I chose the class accordingly. For example, if I have had a particularly busy day at work or am feeling stressed or tense, I would chose the first or third sessions, as I found these the most relaxing. On days where I am feeling a bit more energetic, I really enjoyed the 4th and 5th sessions, and felt that at the stage of my pregnancy, these were valuable skills to build, particularly the one that helps encourage active labour. The 2nd session is probably my least favourite out of the 5, for no other reason that I found it more like “traditional” yoga and therefore I found it less applicable to the third trimester of my pregnancy.
Nadia is clear and easy to follow, and the pace of the classes is just right. You don’t feel like you need to rush to catch up. Her instructions are straight forward, and watching her mirror the movements in front of you really helps. The different moves and exercises flow very smoothly from one to the next, so it doesn’t feel stunted or contrived in any way. At times I have been known to not take yoga very seriously, and found myself sniggering at the bits that are supposed to be calming, however I didn’t get a fit of the giggles during this DVD – the majority of the exercises and techniques appear fairly natural.
At the end of each antenatal yoga session there is a Mindfullness session, helping you relax and tune in to your mind and feelings.
The biggest challenge I found with this DVD is finding the physical space in my lounge to do all the moves. Whilst it doesn’t require a massive space, we have a relatively narrow living room as well as a three year old, and as such our space is somewhat limited. Our living room therefore isn’t quite the ‘zen’ experience I might have had in a traditional class setting, however it was a lot easier to be able to pop it on when I felt ready, rather than being committed to a class every week at a particular time.
I have found the breathing exercises particularly useful, and am practising these regularly in the hope that they will help me to feel more relaxed and calm during labour. With my first labour, I almost hyperventilated at one point from breathing so fast, so need to tune in to this technique to reduce tension and keep my muscles calm and loose! Wish me luck!
I will continue to use the DVD over the next few weeks, particularly once I have finished work and commenced maternity leave.
I would recommend this DVD to any mum to be who prefers the comfort of exercising in her own home.
You can learn more about the DVD and Nadia Raafat here.
*I was sent a copy of this DVD free of charge in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*