Category Archives: Prenatal Yoga

Yoga Meditation for Childbirth

Please welcome today’s guest , Tess Jones.  Tess is a yoga teacher, freelance writer, and mother of two.  Thanks for joining us, Tess!


Meditation is a great tool to use during the physical and mental challenges of childbirth. Slowing your breath and focusing on a meditation can calm your mind and allow your body to let the contractions come.

There are many types of meditations. Some guide you to clear your mind and focus on your breath, while others have you focus on a word, phrase, image, or object. Some ask you to sit or lay still, while others may guide you to move your hands or your body. Use what works for you, trying different things until you find something you connect with that brings you to a place of peace, calm, and grounding in your body.

Once you have a few that you like, practice your meditations in the months leading up to your birth so that you feel familiar with them and can recall them quickly. Teach them to your birth partner or doula, since during labor you may not remember to try them.

Below is a short meditation to try at home:

Grounding Meditation for Pregnant Mothers –Hands on Heart and Belly

  • Find a comfortable seat, or lay on your side. Use pillows to prop yourself until comfortable.
  • Take two full minutes to relax. Breathe naturally and evenly.
  • Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Slightly tuck your chin. Fill your heart and your belly with breath on your inhales feeling them rise, and feel them fall on your exhales. Let go of any thoughts that you are holding onto. Feel a sense of inner strength, grounding down, and ultimate peace filling your body. Clear your mind as you calm your body.

If you’re looking for more meditations to try, there are two free downloadable audio meditations on my website These audio files can be added to your iphone and listened to for a quick calm-down moment during your day. I also have several other meditations in my book Yoga for Birth. Yoga for Birth is available on It features prenatal poses, meditations, affirmations, philosophy, and more for pregnant mothers and their birth partners. The book was photographed and independently produced in the greater Seattle area.

About the Author

Tess Jones is a freelance writer and mother of two who has practiced yoga since 2002. She has studied hatha, vinyasa, prenatal, and postnatal yoga teaching. Her yoga focuses on mindful movement, self-awareness, and discovering the peaceful, grounded strength within ourselves. Her books and yoga-related articles can be found on her website

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.   The second book in the series, A Killer Retreat, is available at booksellers everywhere!


Motherhood and Viniyoga

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Shelley Curtis. Shelley is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program and a yoga teacher at Whole Life Yoga. She can be contacted at


If you’d told me in my 20s and 30s that I would someday be both a yoga teacher and a mother, I would’ve giggled myself silly. But yoga – and motherhood – found me when I needed them the most.

In our late 30s, my partner (now husband) and I were quite content with being childless; watching in amusement how chaotic and out-of-control the lives of our friends with children appeared to be. But at some point we began to feel that having children would bring more joy than chaos. We were ready for a change in our lives that would bring self growth and a new perspective.

At about the same time, I injured my back and began practicing hatha yoga to rebuild my strength and flexibility.  Once I conceived, my growing belly made practicing the asanas I was used to more challenging. A friend (later one of my viniyoga mentors) invited me to come to her prenatal yoga series at Whole Life Yoga.  I didn’t know anything about viniyoga, but I was eager to find a yoga practice that I could continue through my pregnancy.

Turns out, viniyoga was the exact thing my body needed. At the time, I had no idea it was also exactly what my mind needed. I focused on the physical aspects of my practice, but little by little I began to connect breath, body and mind.

My transition to motherhood wasn’t quite as smooth.

I felt overwhelmed, isolated and I struggled with my new identity. I realize now that I was completely attached to the outcome of my actions. I measured my success as a mother by how well my child nursed, slept, ate, and behaved. I loved my son with all my heart, but my mind was often occupied by thoughts of the future and planning for what was (maybe) to come. Sometimes being in the present moment was too painful and scary.

Even though the first couple of years were a struggle at times, the joy of being parents overcame us and we decided to have a second child. My pregnancy coincided with my teacher training at Whole Life Yoga. What a gift! I loved learning about the physical asanas, sequencing and anatomy (ok, maybe not anatomy). But the real joy was learning how to quiet my mind – how to stay present with my breath and my body. As a result, my transition to motherhood the second time seemed way less overwhelming. Yes, I had done it once before, but I truly believe my attempts to internalize the principles of yoga made the difference.

My viniyoga practice made me a better mother.

The effects of viniyoga on motherhood come in many shapes and sizes. First, I am able to be in the present moment more often and more fully. Second, I am better able to practice non-attachment, which frees me (to some degree) from the outcomes of my mothering. Third, paying attention to my breath and trying as best I can to live in the present moment make me less reactive and more patient. Finally, my yoga and meditation practices teach my kids about the importance of self-care, even if they don’t know it yet.

Motherhood and yoga practice are both life-long journeys that teach me to slow down, breathe, and be more fully present. I can’t think of a better combination.


Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and join Tracy Weber’s author mailing list for updates on MURDER STRIKES A POSE, available early 2014 from Midnight Ink!

Clam Pose in Five Easy Steps

Clam Pose is a wonderful upper body twist that also stretches that hard-to-reach area behind the shoulder blades.  It’s a perennial favorite, and probably the most frequently requested pose in my drop-in yoga classes. (Well, next to Pigeon Pose, that is.)  But Clam Pose doesn’t appear in yoga books, and web searches for “Clam Pose” come up with something entirely different. Where did this wonderful movement come from, anyway?

I learned this two-pose yoga flow when I studied prenatal yoga with Margaret Pierce at The Pierce Program in Atlanta.  Margaret uses this slow, gentle, upper body twist to help her prenatal students link movement and breathing in a uniquely meditative way.  But rest assured, non-prenatal students enjoy Clam Pose as much as their expecting counterparts.  Thank you, Margaret, for teaching me this lovely movement.

Clam Pose in Five Easy Steps, with Photos Below!

  1. Rest on your right side, with your knees bent at approximately a 90 degree angle.  Place a thick pillow or folded blanket under your head, so that your neck and shoulders can relax in a neutral position.  Reach your arms straight out from your torso and place your palms on top of each other.
  2. As you inhale, reach your top (left) hand past your bottom fingers, gently stretching the area behind your left shoulder blade
  3. As you Exhale, open the “clam shell” by reaching your left arm up toward the ceiling and over to the floor on the left side of your body.  Turn your head so that your gaze follows the movement of your fingers. Mid-way through this movement, your fingers should be pointing up toward the ceiling. When you finish the movement, your left hand will rest on the floor on the left side of your body, and your head will be turned toward the left.
  4. Remain in this open position and inhale, relaxing your left shoulder down toward the floor and stretching the muscles along the front of your left shoulder.
  5. As you exhale, close the clam shell and return to the starting position, touching your palms together again.

Repeat the above flow several times, then stay for a few breaths in position 4 (open clam), if desired.  Then roll to your left side and repeat steps 1 – 5 with your right arm.

The photos below show a student in all three positions of Clam Pose.

I hope you enjoy integrating this moving meditation into your personal practice. If you’d like me to highlight other Viniyoga poses in this blog, please e-mail me at



Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!

Connecting with Your Body, Mind–and Baby–with Yoga

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Shelley Curtis. Shelley is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program, and our newest prental yoga instructor!  She  can be contacted at

I started taking yoga classes after a minor back injury, partly to heal but mainly to strengthen and stretch my body to prevent hurting myself again. I loved the way yoga made my body feel and sensed there was more to it for my mind but didn’t understand the mental and emotional benefits until I was introduced to viniyoga just before I became pregnant with my first son (now 5 ½).

After I found out I was pregnant I started going to prenatal yoga classes at Whole Life Yoga and practicing at home almost daily. This is really when I started to get the body-mind connection that yoga, especially viniyoga, has to offer. By practicing viniyoga regularly throughout my pregnancy I was able to connect with my body and my baby in a way I don’t think I would have otherwise. The breath work and linking breath and movement allowed me to be fully present and helped me to ride the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy in a much more mindful way. The same held true for labor – and motherhood. I used the same tools during my son’s birth and then again as I struggled with being a new mom.

A couple of years (and many viniyoga classes) later, my dear friend and mentor, Sharon Beaudoin, urged me to consider enrolling in Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. I hadn’t ever thought about teaching yoga but met with Tracy anyway and decided to enter the program mostly as a way to enhance my home practice. Then came baby number two! I was lucky to experience the teacher training during my pregnancy for many reasons, one of which is that it ignited in me a passion for teaching prenatal yoga.  And of course I fully experienced the many benefits of viniyoga throughout my pregnancy, labor and transition to mother of two!

Yoga is such a gift for pregnant women, most of who are getting know their bodies – and their minds – in an entirely new and different way. I feel so fortunate that I get to join them as they begin their journey to motherhood.


Please Join Shelley in her new prenatal class at Whole Life Yoga!