Pregnancy is really about discovering how far out this new body can stretch. (Pun intended.) And what better way than to try it at yoga?
I called Sheila –a Yoga instructor in Westlands referred to me by a friend. “Sheila, I feel as sexy as a loaf of bread. What can you do for me?” Sheila tells me to join her prenatal yoga classes. The charges per class are 1,000 bob. But I can sign up for the package of 10 classes and pay 9,000 bob instead. “In installments?” Yes, she said. In installments. Not bad, eh? The 10-class package includes a post-birth session where the new mums come in with their newborns. Isn’t that adorable or what? Sheila tells me each class runs for one hour and three times a week: the Sunday one is from 9.30a.m, the Tuesday class is at 5p.m and the Friday one at 10a.m. It is best you do yoga three times a week. If you have kids here are tips to introduce them to yoga.
“So what do I need to come with?” Sheila says that all I need is a bottle of water and comfortable clothes.
The only other thing you need for the class is a yoga mat. And they will give you those at the studio. Although some women still prefer to carry theirs for the session. (You know, I have always found it sexy when I see those young girls with lithe bodies carrying a yoga mat in those kitengee-print bags. It seems so eccentric. Like you’d stop her and ask her what she’s about.)
Acacia Studios is on the third floor of Viking House.
Viking House is right off the Westlands roundabout. You can’t miss it. The yoga room is actually a studio. Think dance studio, with mirrors lining all the walls from floor to ceiling. To our backs are sliding windows which pour out to the eyeball of Westlands. There’s light soothing music playing in the background. Some Enya or Lisa Gerrard or someone. Incense burns from the back of the room.
I am at 24 weeks pregnant at this first yoga session.
It’s a class of four. I would later learn that my pregnancy is the most progressed. Though it doesn’t really count for anything; I suppose I was just looking for an excuse to falling behind the class.
The class kicks off with each of us sitting on our yoga mats facing Sheila – legs are crossed with your arms on your knees, thumb and middle finger touching in a relaxing pose.
Or so Sheila says it is. She tells us to focus on the light in the middle of our heads. It seems so… theatrical. Do you know how we see this on TV and you imagine it’s a joke? Well, guess what. It isn’t. This is how it really goes. We warm up for a few minutes; we twist our necks and roll our shoulders back. Easy peasy. Then we stretch our backs like a cat – hands flat on the mat with your toe nails digging in, bottom is high up in the air and your head turned in to look at your belly button. Again, easy peasy. I begin to wonder what the fuss about the strain of yoga is all about.
Until the tempo and intensity is turned up, and the real workouts begin. Goodness.
Sheila bellows the instructions and we move to as she moves. It’s like a choreographed dance; we dance along as she shows us. It looks practiced and fluid from the outside, but from the inside, it’s grinding teeth and shortness of breath. Everything is given its fifteen seconds of fame – from my arms to my shoulders, to my thighs and calves and ankles. Even my toes. We stretch, twist and bend. Squat and pump.
Sheila shoots the instructions in quick fire, “Right leg forward, left knee bent and arms spread out.
Now slide down to the warrior position and hold, sink in deeper, hold, sink in deeper, hold. Now release.” I am sweating. My thighs and legs are killing me. All that bravado has been flung out the window. I want to groan out in pain. My face is a contorted mask, as if I am already in labour, hehhe. But Sheila calls this out, “I don’t want to see any tight faces. Smile! Smile! Let me see those beautiful smiles. It’s easier when you smile.” And you bloody better smile. Even though you are just about ready to call it quits, you better bloody smile.
At one point her voice lowers several notches to a caressing whisper: “Now put your hands over your belly to hold that beautiful life inside of you.
Rock gently from side to side as you imagine that beautiful soul.” It’s very intimate then. Very galvanizing.
I am settling into the mood when Sheila raises her voice again “Now squat to your knees.
Left leg back, right leg back…” And on it goes. On and on and on. There’s even a sexy twisting of your hips with your hands on your waist. Shakira style. Sheila later tells me this twisting is good for it positions your baby in the final weeks to delivery.
The hour slips by so fast.
Five minutes to the end of the session and we all lie on our left with pillows tucked between our thighs. Sheila covers each of us with kikoys and turns the music a notch higher. We nap. Or atleast I did.
We close it off with a “Namaste, namaste.” (Hehhe. I swear, is this for real?)
I won’t lie – I can’t wait for next time.
Before the class
- Get there in good time to start the class off with everyone else: the stretches are important warm-up
- Have a light meal or snack, and hydrate: going in hungry or thirsty can make you dizzy and lightheaded
- Wear comfortable clothes: a sports bra, stretchy tights and a vest in breathable cotton. No need for trainers. Or socks
After the class
- Take a cold shower, not warm or hot: your body may heat up instead of breaking into a sweat as you yoga. The cold shower lowers your temperature and eases the aches.
- Rest then have a good meal: just because you feel a jolt of energy doesn’t mean you work yourself tired afterward
- To ease the aches and pains, walk for at least thirty minutes every other day. Combine this with a rigorous climb up and down a flight of stairs
- Make yoga regular so you, your baby and your body can benefit from it
Have fun while at it. Lots of it.
Please see our Mumsvillage Resources center for lists of Nairobi’s Top Yoga Instructors.