Naturopath and Holistic Pelvic Care™ practitioner, Kate Smith shares with Jenna Lynne Roberts about the upcoming Prenatal Yoga Class that she is co-teaching with Natalie Gildersleeve.
What inspired you to do the upcoming prenatal series at Yoga Union?
We have a lot of pregnant ladies in our Yoga Union community right now. Several women had inquired with us about adding a prenatal class to the schedule. Being pregnant myself has really heightened my interest in prenatal yoga and made me aware of the need for this offering for our pregnant community.
Natalie and I collaborated on putting this 4-week class series together. Natalie has extensive training in prenatal yoga. We feel like combining her skills with my naturopathic, yoga and Holistic Pelvic Care™ background will be a good combination for a prenatal yoga class.
Is this your first pregnancy and how long have you been pregnant?
Yes, I am at 28 weeks, so just at the beginning of my 3rd trimester. I’m due May 20th. My husband and I are both born in May, so it looks like we may have a 3rd Taurus in our family soon. We are both so excited, and I am really loving being pregnant.
How has being pregnant affected your yoga practice?
For me, it has been more about how yoga has affected my pregnancy. Yoga is one of the great loves in my life. The practices of yoga have helped me to find strength, balance and connection over the past decade since I have been practicing. I feel that doing yoga on a regular basis through my pregnancy is having a great impact. I am feeling stronger as my pregnancy progresses, I feel centered, balanced, and connected to this life that is growing inside of me.
This pregnancy has been an exploration of my yoga practice. I am so excited each time I find a new variation of a pose that helps to support my ever-changing body and my rapidly growing daughter. Pregnancy definitely has inspired creativity, and a greater sense of awareness in my yoga practice. I feel really enthused about sharing these aspects of yoga with other pregnant women.
What are the best prenatal yoga practices?
Practices that help with building strength and stability, while allowing for safe and gentle softening of the joints is key. During pregnancy, hormones rapidly increase, and cause the ligaments and joints to relax to make room for a growing baby. One of the biggest causes of injury while practicing yoga during pregnancy arises from women feeling hyper-flexible and going too deep into poses and injuring themselves.
I also believe yoga is a wonderful way to develop your connection with your baby throughout your pregnancy. Yoga practices such as breathwork and meditation are a great way to deepen your connection with your new love that is coming into being.
What yoga poses should pregnant women avoid doing?
It depends on what trimester. Once you’re into the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you don’t want to be in belly down positions. Doing too many inversions later in pregnancy isn’t advised.
It also depends from person to person, but, usually past 24 weeks, you don’t want to spend much time lying on your back because the weight of your baby can compress some of your arteries and then decrease blood flow to your own heart.
A pregnant woman doesn’t want to do any twisting that is compressing her abdomen, but you can do twists in a way that are more upper-body twists, keeping the belly open and spacious. You want to gain more length and opening through your torso during pregnancy as you make space for your baby. So creating space through safe twists is actually really beneficial.
If you had a really strong yoga practice before pregnancy, you can continue doing a lot of what you did pre-pregnancy, but it is not a time to drastically advance your practice or greatly increase your exercise load. The best advise to pregnant moms about their yoga practice is to listen to your own body. You possess great wisdom and your body will let you know when you are doing something that does not feel safe or could be harmful. Continually checking in with yourself in each pose and through each transition will help create the best yoga experience possible.
What benefits does this Prenatal Yoga Class offer?
It’s a 4-week series, and each week we’re going to focus on the health and specific alignment of different parts of the body. This series will help women create more strength and flexibility during pregnancy, to prepare them for birth and beyond.
Each week we’ll lead women through an asana practice with modifications they can then take into any class that they’re participating in. Our hope is that our prenatal classes give pregnant women tools so they can have a positive, prenatal safe class in any yoga class.
After each class, we will have a half-hour where students can have tea and ask questions and share in a conversation about pregnancy. This will be a time where students can ask more detailed questions about their yoga practice, discuss health concerns, etc.
You’re also a naturopath, how will that inform this Prenatal Yoga Class?
A big passion of mine is women’s health and helping women balance their hormones and fertility issues. There was a time when my husband and I were concerned about fertility, and were unsure if we would be able to get pregnant. My own experience took me on a journey of delving into Naturopathic medicine to work on my own health to help us bring this little girl into the world.
Both the practices of Naturopathic Medicine and Holistic Pelvic Care™ were an integral part of what helped me get to where I am now with my health. I feel that Naturopathic medicine and Holistic Pelvic Care ™ practices are so helpful to creating health before, during and after pregnancy. I hope to share some of this wisdom with the women taking our prenatal series.
How did you come to focus in Holistic Pelvic Care™?
Holistic Pelvic Care™ is physical and energetic medicine that is used to assess and then restore balance to the pelvic space of the woman’s body. It addresses health imbalances on physically and emotionally.
I had a really severe low-back/ sacral injury a few years ago and found Tami Kent, who is a holistic pelvic physical therapist who pioneered the techniques of Holistic Pelvic Care™. This work helped me to heal physically and emotionally. I was so moved by the work that I completed Tami Kent’s practitioner training program and I am now a certified Holistic Pelvic Care™ practitioner. I feel like this work was helpful in getting me to the place where I was able to get pregnant. It has become a big part of my Naturopathic women’s health practice, and I love it.
I feel such gratitude for yoga, Naturopathy, and Holistic Pelvic Care™, which were so helpful for me in my own healing process to get pregnant and now through pregnancy. I feel inspired to share this wisdom with the women participating in our prenatal class series.
Sign Up for Yoga Union’s upcoming Prenatal Yoga Series HERE
See the Schedule to take Restorative Yoga with Kate Smith HERE