Desi Bartlett is a prenatal yoga and fitness expert and founder of the popular Mothers into Living Fit program. She shares her 3 +1 Total Body Philosophy in her book ‘Your Strong Sexy Pregnancy: A Yoga and Fitness Plan’.
Don’t be put off by the title, this book is exhorting you to be strong and confident in your pregnant body, celebrating the changes and helping you to connect with your baby as you exercise.
The 3 +1 philosophy is a combination of prenatal yoga, resistance training, cardiovascular training and good nutrition, recognising the overlap between different exercise practises and the benefit of eating well during your pregnancy.
Staying strong and fit during pregnancy has so many recognised benefits for both mother and baby: Desi explores and encourages a deeper connection with your unborn baby as you practise yoga and stay active, focusing on how your moods, thoughts and movements will impact on your baby. She exhorts the value of mother’s intuition and being aware of what works and feels right for you – in a time where there is so much confusion it is good to recognise that there is not always one correct answer, tuning in to your own energy system and listening to your body, mind and heart can help guide you to do what is best for both of you.
This book takes you through each trimester with a programme of yoga poses, resistance exercises and strength training practice that will work, strengthen and energize your whole body. Each pose or exercise is explained in detail, with clear instructions, not just about how to adjust the pose and how it will benefit you – but also encouraging feelings and visualisations, recognising your pregnancy, the changes in your body and the connection you have to your unborn baby.
Desi reminds us, ‘You are heroic. Strong. In all poses that have hero energy remember that you are very much a hero to your baby. Making healthy choices and speaking up for what is right are examples of this energy.’
‘Downward Dog is a gentle inversion’, writes Desi, ‘and often feels fantastic during pregnancy. Allow yourself to connect with the energy of Mother Earth and feel her rising up to support you and your baby.’
Meditation during pregnancy
Taking time to meditate can help to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, it’s worth finding a few minutes each day to stop, visualise and connect with your baby. Desi recommends a seated meditation, with your legs crossed in Easy Pose. She says ‘Close your eyes while bringing one hand to your heart and one hand to your baby. Slow your thoughts. Slow your breath. Imagine that each breath is a little slower and deeper than the last one. Gently allow your attention to drift to your heart centre.
As you connect to your heart space, invite the feelings of love and compassion with each breath. Each time you inhale, imagine the feeling of love growing in the heart space, like the rays of the sun and let this love radiate out with warmth and light. Imagine a beautiful silver cord of light originating in your heart centre, softly extending and connecting to your baby’s hear centre, sending messages of love to your baby.
And allow yourself to be the receiver of communication, noticing any thoughts or feelings.
Close your meditation by envisioning both of you in a beautiful bubble of white or golden light and flutter your eyes open when you are ready.’
The book doesn’t stop at birth, Desi also takes you through postnatal exercise and recovery, with postpartum exercises and yoga practice you can continue with your baby.
There’s good sound advice here for all women who would like to enjoy a fit, strong pregnancy, preparing for the special moment when you meet your baby for the first time.