Review of Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga

I recently went to a prenatal yoga class at a local studio, and while the place was nice and the instructor was friendly, I was a little surprised when she explained that their philosophy is to do the same vinyasa flow as in their regular classes. The only modifications were to move the leg around the belly when going from downward dog to a standing position, and to do shavasana on the side. Frankly… it was a bit tiring, and moving my leg so awkwardly led to knee pain in the following weeks. Maybe I would have really enjoyed it had I been a hardcore yogini with a regular practice, but I was really just a pregnant woman with a body that changes every day, and I’d sort of been hoping for a practice tailored to my condition.

Note the three levels of modification!

Enter Shiva Rea’s Prenatal Yoga. I hadn’t really worked with any of other videos, since they tended to seem a little difficult. The prenatal workout is really accessible, however, with just a slight bit of challenge. Moreover, it really seems to be designed for pregnant women — there are gentle warm-up movements and exercises specifically for stretching and strengthening the pelvic area. Many of the standing moves are done with a chair, which makes the stretching more relaxing and less strenuous. It really is a gentle, relaxing hour-long yoga practice that you simply want to repeat.

What most impressed me, however, was this: Shiva Rea has two other women, in their second and third trimester respectively, doing modified versions of the positions next to her, but you don’t even have to look at the screen to know what modifications you need to do. With every move, she also explains out loud how to modify it in case of discomfort or if your pregnancy is advanced. She even tells you to move your block to the other side of the mat when necessary. I’ve always found it a bit perverse that yoga videos will show modifications, but then force people to squint at a little body in the background of the screen. A woman in her third trimester can actually use this video without having to look at the screen — now that’s smart.

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