Busting the pregnancy yoga and workout myths: Podcast by Mommy Workouts

I loved talking with Magdalena! After a while of shamelessly insta- creeping her account, I knew I just had to finally ask her to be on. Her Instagram, is the cutest! You see her, and her growing belly while practicing yoga with her 2 year old daughter. And it's real. Sometimes her daughter participates and sometimes she runs around. But you know thats life. And I love that Magdalena shows the realness and the acceptance of the fact that it may not be perfect but it is what it is. 

Listen to the podcast HERE

So, for this episode I wanted to talk about some of the myths and benefits of prenatal yoga. I looked into Magdalena, and she is highly educated about prenatal yoga and it's so close to her heart that I knew she could give us really good insight. Especially if we are prego and hesitant to try it. 

She is truly the sweetest and I hope you find this episode informational and helpful if you are wanting to do yoga when you have a little bun in the oven. 

Yoga during pregnancy: Beyond the physical benefits

Why am I so passionate about yoga during pregnancy? I really believe it must be the most important time in a woman’s life to practice yoga. From the moment of conception, our baby experiences life through us, our emotions and state of mind. Our little baby feels our sensory impulses, and recognizes what brings us joy and what feels toxic. Deep inside the womb, our baby feels our neurological responses to daily situations. They can feel when we are stressed, and they can enjoy the moments of happiness and contentment with us. That is because whatever emotion we experience, our brain releases the corresponding hormones into our bloodstream. Those hormones cross the placenta and travel through the umbilical cord to our baby. 

~I am holding a four hour prenatal workshop on March 11th at Buddhi Yoga in La Jolla, CA ~ 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM        

Neuroscience and yoga philosophy come together and agree on the fact that life learning clearly starts before birth, and that experiences long before birth can affect and mold personality. When a pregnant mother is at peace and harmony, the more harmonious and content is her baby’s development. To the contrary, when a pregnant mother is constantly stressed, her unborn child experiences the bouts of fight or flight stress response with her. Stress hormones act by mobilizing energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity. That used to be a life-saving reactions back in the days when we actually faced real fight or flight situations on daily basis. Nowadays, without us actually having to undergo fight or flight, stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) just travel through our body and cannibalize our health. Unfortunately, they also travel through the umbilical cord to our baby. 


Through yoga, we can become more centered, calm, content and present - and our baby enjoys these feelings being transferred to them. They literally bathe in our happy hormones, and their developing brain is absorbing our endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. Through yoga, we can help mothers get into a peaceful state of mind, so that their babies enjoy feeling loved, nourished, secure, happy and content, long before birth. 


There is no way we can simply eliminate stress from our lives. But we can certainly change the way we react to it. Pregnant women usually seek out prenatal yoga classes to help them with physical ailments such as achy body, fatigue, nausea and leg cramps. Soon they realize, that while enjoying all of those benefits, yoga also helps pregnant women to become less reactive. By emphasizing breath and relaxation, we teach pregnant women to create their “yoga bubble” around them to shield them from the outside world. We can teach them to flow through their daily life without reacting to stressful situations or annoying comments from strangers and coworkers. (Yes, during pregnancy everyone feels to have the liberty to give you “friendly advice” and unsolicited comments about your body, belly size, even what type of birth you should choose). Being less reactive means brushing these situations off, and preventing stress hormones from rising in our body. 


Just like our body protects our baby physically from the outside world (always the right temperature, no sharp edges, no loud sounds, everything is muffled and absorbed by the amniotic fluid), our mind needs to do the same mentally. Otherwise we are exposing our baby to the stress epidemic we see out there today. Mind and body are inseparably one, just like the pregnant mother and child create one unit. You are your unborn baby continuously share each others feelings and experiences, and our baby is mostly just the helpless recipient, who cannot protect themselves from stress or sadness. 


Prenatal yoga is so wonderful because pregnant women are such natural yogis. Even if they have never done yoga before, they just get it. The elusive yogic goal of “being in the moment” or “being present” becomes so natural to pregnant women. They put their hands to their belly during meditation and immediately feel so deeply connected with their baby, experiencing the miraculous process of growing a little person inside, the ancient wisdom of the woman’s body, the miracle of life. Meditation becomes very deep and profound. The respect for our incredible body and for nature becomes very deep. Our pregnant body miraculously delivers just the right amount of nutrients with each bite of food we take, and just the right amount of oxygen with every breath we take. Nobody has to teach us how to be pregnant, our body does it automatically, as if it has done it many times before. We call that the ancient wisdom of the female body, and through yoga, we can learn to channel all the ancient midwifes, doulas, and all the women who were pregnant before us and who gave birth. It is a very powerful feeling. 


Prenatal yoga is so much more then a series of modified poses. It is all of the above and more. With breath work and meditation, we prepare the pregnant mother for the progressing pregnancy, labor and birth. We teach her how to be present and connected with her baby. We teach her how to appreciate every moment in her pregnancy in a society that only has us looking forward and counting the weeks to our due date.


I am holding a four hour prenatal workshop on March 26th at Buddhi Yoga in La Jolla, CA.      More details and to register here

Why pregnant women are the best yogis

Prenatal Yoga Teacher Magdalena Patterson Shares Her Pregnancy Experience


This is me 8.5 months pregnant. Meditation becomes a second nature for a pregnant woman. 

This is me 8.5 months pregnant. Meditation becomes a second nature for a pregnant woman. 

I have practiced yoga for the last 15 years, but it wasn’t until I did prenatal yoga that I truly experienced what felt like the “real yoga.” I didn’t need a yoga mat or a set time and place to “do yoga.” I found myself in a constant state of total bliss and continually felt present in every moment. I was very connected to my breath and felt completely in-tune with my body. As a yoga teacher, this was a powerful awakening for me.


Prenatal Yoga Is Very Intuitive

Practicing yoga during pregnancy was hard at first. I was scared of what poses might hurt the baby due to all the conflicting advice out there and I got frustrated with not being able to do some of my favorite poses. I love inversions but they made me nauseous and did not feel good. Then a lightbulb went off. I intuitively started to relax into the poses in a way that felt good for my body. I stopped focusing on what my poses looked like or what I could or couldn’t do.

I studied prenatal yoga and found out that the intuition of pregnant women becomes very strong and their bodies will let them know where to go and where not to go. Meditating became second nature and I felt most connected and intuitive when I put my hands on my belly to feel the baby. I had never felt more present. Yoga and pregnancy melted together into a profound yogic experience, and I realized the powerful connection between my practice and my ability to relax and stay calm throughout pregnancy, labor and birth.

Women in Prenatal Yoga Are Amazing Yogis

Prenatal yoga is my favorite class to teach. It is so close to my heart, and seeing mommies-to-be relax, meditate and feel good after class is the best gift I can get as a teacher. I feel so blessed to teach prenatal yoga because pregnant women, even if they have never practiced yoga before, are the best yogis ever! They just get it. They are in the present moment. Being pregnant is a daily yoga practice in itself. It is very natural for women to pause and pay attention to their breath, to be in-tune with their bodies, to feel their baby kick. In prenatal yoga, we nurture this process, and we help pregnant women to listen and trust their body, relax, and enjoy their pregnancy.


Prenatal Yoga Creates a Deep State of Relaxation

It is incredible to see so many pregnant women reach such a deep state of relaxation. Especially considering the constant stress that expectant mothers can be under. They hear different opinions from everyone they meet, not to mention all the unsolicited advice they receive on a daily basis.

We live in a beautiful time to be an expectant mother and have a lot of options when it comes to birth. Some women choose to have a home water birth while others have a planned C section. In prenatal classes we create a community where women feel comfortable discussing their birth plans without judgement. It has been wonderful to see women learn more about their delivery options. Whatever you choose, be calm, relaxed and don’t stress about it. Don’t try to fulfill someone else’s agenda.

Prenatal Yoga Creates Happy Hormones in the Womb

While studying for my prenatal yoga certification, I was intrigued by the research on fetal brain development. In addition to good nutrition, what also plays a huge part is the hormones that mom’s brain secretes during pregnancy. Neuroscience and yoga both agree on the importance of staying calm and relaxed during pregnancy. If any nutrients are missing from a woman’s diet, the body is capable of creating them or borrowing them from somewhere else in the body. Emotionally our body cannot compensate and create happiness and contentment when the mother is anxious and stressed out.

The baby in the womb receives the same hormones that mom’s brain releases. If the pregnant mom is relaxed and happy, the baby bathes in happy hormones. If the mommy-to-be is constantly stressed out and in the “fight or flight” state, the baby experiences those feelings too. Most importantly, the baby’s brain is growing and developing every day, so our mission in prenatal yoga is to create and nurture the most loving and calm environment for that development. What better way for a mommy-to-be to stay calm and relaxed than regular yoga practice!


Looking back, I know there’s no better way to prepare for labor and birth then to practice yoga. I love hearing my students’ birth stories when we connect in Mommy & Me yoga after. My birth was much like a crazy long yoga class. It was very intense, but my breath and movement took me through it. I went through many different labor positions that all look like yoga. Malasana (squat), cat & cow, and puppy pose to name a few. Some of them I held for hours, but I didn’t know because I withdrew my senses and lost all concept of time. All I remember is that I kept breathing. I have never been more present in the moment or have experienced a stronger sense of yoga. Twenty two hours later I had my beautiful baby. Mother and baby going through this journey as one is the perfect definition of the yogic concept “unity” or “yoking”.

From that magical moment, I knew I had to keep sharing the gift of yoga to other mommies-to-be.

I teach prenatal yoga every Friday 10:45 am-11:45 am at Buddhi Yoga La Jolla. 

Practice Mom-Asana every day

Sweet Savasana surrender with my daughter Alessandra

Sweet Savasana surrender with my daughter Alessandra


In Sanskrit, the ancient yogi language, the word "asana" means simply to sit. So all those fancy names for poses that end in "asana" (asho-mukha-svanasana, downward facing dog for example), simple mean to "sit" in the described pose - meaning finding comfort and relaxing into the pose, breathing...even if you're not really sitting. 

Let's practice Mom-asana, relaxing into the most content self as a mom. First, we need to understand that being content is very different from being happy. Happiness is usually tied with many different conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for us to be happy. "I'll be happy when..." You fill in the blank. Contentment, on the other hand, resides into relaxing into what is. It asks us to embrace what life is offering in this exact moment. No expectations, no judgement. We already have everything we need to be content. Just try to relax into contentment with the following exercise:  

Find a comfortable seat. Place your hand on your heart. Pause. Feel the absolute magic that is in the inhale and exhale that sustain life. Then, find your child or children and notice who they are in this exact moment in time. If they are older, remember the open wonder with which you watched them as infants and let yourself see them with that purity of vision as they are today. If you are pregnant, place your hands on your belly, close your eyes and feel the magical connection with the beautiful life growing within you. Notice how beautiful this moment is, and try to forget the to do list for a moment, try to forget even what day it is and what time it is. Everything just is, and it is perfect. 

Regular yoga practice helps with finding and practicing contentment. 

Have a wonderful day!