Ante-natal yoga class (part one)

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I intended on going to my normal yoga class for as long as possible. I wanted to be that woman that makes everyone nervous by being so heavily pregnant that they won’t put their mat down too close, just in case… Unfortunately my yoga teacher had other ideas and disappeared off to spend six weeks with one of her teachers (I’m filled with both pity and envy for the class when she comes back brimming with new knowledge. It will hurt). My plan had less to do with commitment and grim determination, and more to do with the fact that I’m very very comfortable in my class.

Personally, I think that yoga has a lot to offer to a lot of different people, it’s just a question of finding the right class with the right teacher. If you end up at a session that’s not right for you (see Hels’ experience during Juneathon) or with a teacher that you don’t gel with, inevitably you’ll not enjoy it as much as you should and I’ve known it to put people off yoga for good. I struck lucky with my teacher and it’s been kind of interesting to see how her practice has developed over the nearly five years I’ve been with her. I’ve always gone for a fairly physical class (though not as physical as her power yoga) but have been doing a slower class while I’ve been pregnant (stretchy pregnancy ligaments mean that it’s not safe to hold postures for as long).

This all meant that I was faced with the prospect of ante-natal yoga. I was dubious about ante-natal yoga. I was even more dubious about going to a strange class with a new teacher. I took a deep breath and emailed my teacher to find out (a) if she knew of any local classes and (b) they weren’t all going to be whale music and visualising my placenta were they? Luckily she knew exactly what I meant…

Work and anxious procrastination got in the way for a couple of weeks, but a couple of weeks ago I girded my loins, finished work a bit early and drove to a strange class at a leisure centre that I’ve never been to before. After not being able to get into the room and having to stand at the doors, rattling the handles and flapping my hands at whoever could see me, things improved from there.

Obviously, it was a class full of pregnant ladies and weird as this might sound, I’m still a little unnerved by being in a room full of pregnant ladies. At work and at home I am generaaly the only pregnant lady in the room, rock up to anything ante-natal (or Mothercare) and there’s bloody loads of us waddling around…. Anyway, I had had a long debate with myself about whether or not to take my own mat. On the one hand, I didn’t want to turn up with no mat and have to do the yoga equivalent of doing PE in your knickers and vest, but on the other hand I didn’t want to turn up with my mat and look like I was going “See, I do yoga me. I have a mat. And a mat bag. I am Serious About Yoga…” (this is why I tend to stay in my comfort zone). I ended up with my mat (mainly because it lives in the boot of my car) and explained to the teacher that I usually go to a normal class, but my teacher is in France for six weeks. Immediately she knew who I meant, which was a strange relief to me, and said “you’ll find that this is a lot more gentle than you’re used to”.

And she was right. For starters, we had cushions to lean on. I wasn’t so keen on this because I have a tendency to sit with a lazy slouch unless I pay attention to my posture and I’m still comfy enough sitting on just my mat. We did some relaxation breathing, focussing on being an “observant witness” to our bodies (handy if I need an alibi for the last two Monday afternoons). The postures were all familiar (if a little slower and more gently done than I’m used to) and there was no whale music to speak of (though we did get into a bit of a battle with our sitar and chimes trying to compete with the banging tunes from the fitness class next door). The only visualisation that we did involved seeing an emerald light enveloping our bodies and I did try to focus on this, but kept being distracted by thoughts of Lord Percy’s nugget of purest green in Blackadder II…

I enjoyed it enough to go back for a second week…


Waddle, waddle, splash

I appreciate that pregnancy is a binary state – you either are or you aren’t, there’s no being ‘a bit pregnan’t – but over the last week or so, I have felt Very Pregnant. Certain movements, bending forward to reach something when I’m sitting down for instance, are somewhat hit and miss and are often accompanied by a chorus of ‘ooooofs’, ‘bloody hells’, or sometimes even ‘ooooof, bloody hell’.

It’s a bit of a cliche, but one of the times where I feel slightly less lumbering is in the swimming pool. Just as the penguin is a bit ungainly and waddly on land, but sleek and gymnastic in the water, I am a bit ungainly and waddly on land, but a bit less ungainly and waddly in the water. I am still managing a nice 20 lengths on my trips to the baths, albeit a bit slower than before, and am now 65% escaped from Alcatraz. I think I would like to complete my daring swim to freedom by my due date.


Me at the pool

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve also been looking ahead and doing some forward planning (conveniently ignoring the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, the actual birth and the first couple of months with a newborn baby). This has partly been triggered by other bloggers (particularly the inspiring words of I run because I love food) and hearing about Australian cricketer Sarah Elliott, who was back in the gym after six weeks and scored a Test century in between breastfeeding. I will concede that it’s probably a bit late in the day for me to contemplate an international sporting career and if I’m totally honest, at the moment the concept of running for a bus is as unimaginable as running an ultra. However, there’s only me that can make it happen when the right time comes and so I’ve been pondering my return.

My ultimate goal is an autumn half (to keep up my ‘half-marathon a year’ that I’ve done accidentally for the last three years). This might be helped along by the Lancaster Race Series Wagon and Horses 10 miler. We were up in Lancaster a couple of weeks ago when we saw the organisers setting up this year’s race, and I’ve always got time for an event that starts and finishes at a pub…

The other news that’s made me a bit excited is that I have a new local parkrun at Cuerden Valley. The inaugural event was last Sunday and I did consider having a waddle down, only to fall asleep instead. I’m not sure how the route works, but it looks intriguing and I assume that it will be somewhat undulating. Either way it’s a lovely setting for a run (it’s where I did one of the Badger 10k seriesĀ  and I last ran there in the snow during this year’s Janathon) – country park rather than municipal park, and it’s handily close to the M6 for all you parkrun tourists out there.

Counting down – the effect of looming deadlines

I’ve had another of my “similarities between running and pregnancy” moments.

Just as Jogblog wrote last week, I love training plans. They fill me with optimism as I visualise myself sprinting gazelle-like during my interval sessions, watching the mileage clock up on my long runs and this time definitely sticking to the plan so I finally reach my sub-<insert possibly unrealistic time here> distance. I love looking at all the similar but different plans on the internet and filling in apps with my previous times to predict my finish times and training paces. And then there’s the joy in ticking off the perfect first week’s training.

Unfortunately training plans tend to have a deadline and to quote the wise words of Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”. At the end of the plan is usually a race and this fills me with panic and dread. It’s not unknown for me to sabotage myself by simply abandoning running for a couple of weeks because I’m so freaked out by the whole thing. It’s the counting down that gets me. One minute the future race is a tiny elephant in the distance and then the clock starts ticking and before I know it, there’s a whiff of dung on the air and I’m being poked in the bum by a tusk.

I’m finding that pregnancy has a similar effect on me. It doesn’t seem five minutes since we found out and since then it’s been one countdown after the other. First midwife appointment, 12 week scan, next midwife appointment, 20 week scan, next midwife appointment, four weeks between midwife appointments, three weeks between midwife appointments, antenatal classes… Chuck in the usual counting down to paydays, holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Athons and the new series of CSI:NY and time flies by in a terrifying way.

I am writing this the night before the countdown flips over into single figures – 9 weeks to go and apparently this is one event where I can’t defer til next year.