Why Prenatal Yoga: A Q&A with Briohny Smyth
Inspiring yogini Briohny Smyth offers some advice for expecting mothers—and how to connect with their beautiful bellies and the beautiful lives inside them.
Two things changed Briohny Smyth‘s life for the better: yoga and motherhood. In her teens, as a pop star with a platinum album in Asia, Smyth struggled with anorexia and bulimia. But since she found yoga in Thailand in 1999 and later learned to connect with her pregnant body, she has become a world-renowned yogini who practices and promotes a positive and healthy attitude. During her second pregnancy, Smyth worked on “Beautiful Belly,” the first multiplatform prenatal yoga program recently released as a standalone iPad app (free for the first trimester!). We asked this lovely yogini to offer some words of wisdom for all you expecting mamas.
Thank you for sharing some of your favorite poses from “Beautiful Belly.” For those who have never tried it, what are the benefits of prenatal yoga both physically and emotionally? Why yoga?
Yoga gives pregnant women the opportunity to care for themselves. A lot of times, they are taking care of other kids and family. It’s really the beginning of self-care. It also keeps the body physically feeling good. Pregnancy isn’t easy on the body. Things change all the time and the body compensates for those changes, but yoga keeps you feeling energetic and connected with your body. When you’re connected with your body and practicing self-care, you’re trying not to freak out about things changing—you’re embracing changes. It’s such a great thing about yoga, realizing that this present moment is most important. A lot of times you get lost a bit, and you can’t do this and you can’t do that. (Yoga) helped me personally get out of that train of mine when I was younger.
Each pose has a specific benefit through the body…A lot of prenatal yoga revolves around the exact area that needs to be strengthened for birth. Also, when you’re moving your body or staying connected to it, you’re less likely to just follow your temptations to eat everything.
You spoke about how a great thing with yoga is the way it connects you to the present moment. How has your yoga experience grounded you in the present?
I worked and traveled a lot during my pregnancy, and my emotions were very easily changed. One minute I’d be happy, the next minute I’d be hungry or in a bad mood. It happens—emotions aren’t that stable when you’re pregnant. Anytime I got to practice, I just felt more capable of being strong for myself so that I could be a better person for the people around me…We’re all human and we all have moments that we’re not proud of, but it’s not wrong to have moments like that. Just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself so that you can be the person that you want to be for your family.
What are some of the biggest challenges of practicing yoga when pregnant?
I’m going to speak to two kinds of moms here: For a yogi who was practicing yoga before pregnancy, the biggest challenge is, “I used to be able to do this now I can’t,” but really it’s the biggest gift. It does teach you how to be patient and accepting. Life is constantly changing, you as a person are constantly changing, although you sacrifice what you can or can’t do. Pregnancy leads to the best gift ever. It just takes a little bit of sacrifice.
For moms who find yoga through pregnancy…the biggest challenge is judging yourself, how strong you are or how weak you are, sometimes even just learning the posture is hard. Yoga isn’t easy, it’s a very challenging process. Learning it so it doesn’t hurt your body and building a practice is a true challenge.
Make time for practice. You always make time…Going to practice will guarantee that you feel better physically and mentally…You can practice in the privacy of own home, at your own pace. It was key to filming while pregnant, because of constantly practicing, I can then create something that would help pregnant women get into the practice.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with moms-to-be?
Yeah, definitely. Remembering that you’re exactly where you need to be, it’s such a hard thing…Your body is changing. But know that this is yours and through dedication you can make it through your pregnancy in a healthy way. After your pregnancy, yoga is there for you as well. After that, there are tons of things you can do to practice yoga even while you’re caring for your baby. Be patient with your body and know that your pre-baby body is achievable through patience.
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