Monday, 22 August 2011

Featuring The POD: Prenatal Yoga Class

Going home to my hometown Davao City always means one thing – gaining extra weight! Moreover that I am pregnant, the license to pig out has never been so much fun!

On hindsight, it did worry me to gain almost 5 kilos for just a week and a half stay.  The last thing you want for a drug-free natural birth is an oversized baby!  That’s why I was elated when I found out about the opening of The POD at Plaza del Carmen, Barrio Obrero, which offers prenatal yoga classes.

A cozy place that instantly puts you at ease
Class size is small so ample attention is given for proper yoga poses

According to doctors, when paired with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking, yoga can be an ideal way to stay in shape during pregnancy.  This ancient practice keeps the body limber, tones the muscles and improves balance and circulation, with almost no impact on the joints.  More significantly, yoga helps to practice deep breathing and relaxation, which prepares the body on the physical demands of labor, birth and motherhood.

So I eagerly tried it out and had a blast! What makes it more enjoyable is that the yoga teacher, Alex Hao, a dear friend of my sister who shares a breastfeeding advocacy group Mommysense, is already an acquaintance of mine.  She is the classic sanguine, who loves being around people and is just full of energy.  Here, she shares some of her thoughts on pre-natal yoga, natural birth, and motherhood.

Christine: How did you get into prenatal yoga? What caught your interest?

Alex: I have been teaching childbirth class since 2004 and prenatal yoga is an excellent and complimentary thing to do.  Childbirth class has less exercise than a prenatal yoga class. Prenatal Yoga has no lectures, its just mom and baby together with other moms and babies. I enrolled in Prenatal Yoga teacher training with Dr Jean Byrne thru Yoga in Asia in Singapore last December. I saw the course a year earlier and saved up for it.

Christine: How does prenatal yoga helps mothers-to-be in childbirth? What are the benefits?

Alex: By spending time moving from one pose or asana to the next, moms get to feel how the body works and compensate. Holding some of the poses in prenatal yoga is like riding through a contraction. Also, chanting OM at the end of class is a great way for mom to hear herself in a deep relaxing sound that can be most useful in labor - specially for young moms who have watched a lot of screaming birth scenes in TV shows or movies. And working with one’s breathing calms most moms. I can see that a lot moms start the class breathing faster than at the end of class. Also, since prenatal yoga is an all women class there's less inhibition in the group.

Christine: The POD offers not just prenatal yoga but childbirth and Lamaze classes too. Tell us more about it.
Alex: I don't like to call the classes Lamaze as the class is not Lamaze Certified. I am a Lamaze international member but I am not Lamaze certified. I just call it childbirth preparation class. We discuss the 6 healthy Birth Practices of Lamaze International and the Department of Health Protocol "Unang Yakap", along with breastfeeding. And individually, moms ought to answer the question “what do I want - really really want”? It does not have to be a practical answer, just what she wants.

Christine: Did you give natural birth to all your four beautiful kids? If so, what made you commit to it?

Alex: Yes, I gave birth naturally to my 4 children with my partner by my side. My original plan back in 1997 was to give birth via Cesarean Section as the thought of going through labor alone was too scary and inhumane for me. But my OBGYN wouldn't do a c-section with out any complication. She said I was young and fit so she referred me to a Childbirth Educator, Gamay Dacanay. And so my husband and I attended her class. I've been an advocate ever since, telling strangers in the grocery to go and attend the class, and all my friends, and friends of friends. It was a beautiful birth. Looking back, my first birth could be improved, but that’s the thing with birth it only happens once. I am most grateful for my birth experiences though. I am so happy for my family.

Christine: Lastly, I know plenty of friends who cringe at the thought of giving birth drug-free. Why do you think natural birth is not a popular choice nowadays?

Alex: Here in Davao, there could be a chance that we have more drug-free births than in Singapore. I think this is mainly due to the fact that drugs have cost. Some moms come to class declaring that they will definitely need an epidural or can't imagine not having an epidural but end up not having any. This could be a matter of orientation or fear, or the mom is just unaware of the benefits of natural birth. I think the following plays a part in moms having sedatives or epidural: the length of labor, her mobility and the support she gets in her birthplace. A woman in labor is not in a position to defend what she wants, even with the fact that she has thought of and identified what she wants beforehand. The ideal situation is that she be allowed to go through labor and be encouraged to cope naturally without a fight. And this is where the rules and restrictions of her attendants or doctor and birthplace come to spell or spoil the birth experience. I do not know for sure why women would choose a medicated birth as oppose to a natural birth (I am sure the reasons will be as varied as the women) but when I was pregnant with my first I was scared to go through labor alone (my mom, aunts, cousins- gave birth alone). I'd rather have a major abdominal surgery back then. So in my case, I was sure I can't go through labor alone, more so natural birth because of fear plus it could be too much of a fight with an invisible opponent and the possibility of an inattentive birth attendant and all the other what ifs I could imagine.

The POD is located at Door 4 Plaza del Carmen Loyola Street Obrero, Davao City. Opening Time is 1:30pm to 6:30pm, Monday-Saturday.  Contact Number is (+6382)3022737.

Could not resist buying this wooden roller that works wonders on your feet


  1. Mec, thanks so much :) it was great having you in class. Hope your be here for the summer.

  2. para saan yang wooden roller? ^^ parang foot massage?

    magkano? kung sabi mo ok, gusto ko subukan. hahaha

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