Debra Flashenberg founded the Prenatal Yoga Center in 2002, where she continues to teach a hybrid style of vinyasa flow with an Iyengar-sense of alignment. Having studied with Shiva Rea, Cyndi Lee, Genny Kapular, and Carrie Owerko, her prenatal classes are also heavily influenced by her background as a certified labor support doula and Lamaze childbirth educator. Here, she tells YogaCity NYC why she likes Half Moon, demonstrated by a student:
YogaCity NYC: What pose did you chose and why do you like it?
Debra Flashenberg: I chose to work on Ardha Chandrasana. I mainly work with the pregnant population and this pose offers the pregnant body a chance to feel very light and very open across the chest. Many women also express feeling quiet and balanced in this pose.
YCNYC: Describe the anatomy of the first pose and body parts engaged.
DF: The first picture (of my pregnant student) is staged for a very supportive version of Ardha Chandrasana. For the pregnant body, balance can feel rather precarious since the center of gravity is changing and the exaggerated curves of the spine and looser joints can lead to instability. By introducing the pose fully supported against a wall, the student can start to explore the fundamental alignment and intention of the pose without much concern of balance. The main alignment focal points here would be stacking the shoulder and revolving the chest open, as well as feeling solid on the standing leg. The direct feedback of the wall can allow the student to draw both shoulders against the wall and press the back of the top hand into the wall.
YCNYC: What body parts are engaged in the second pose?
DF: The second picture is staged to highlight the importance of the back leg. We are pressing the foot into the wall to help establish the point of reaching through that foot, as well as feeling the leg lift the inner thigh and inner arch. There is also focus on the pulling up of the quadriceps of the standing leg. I also find it very helpful to focus on elongating the tailbone to help create stability in the core and pelvis. Again, for the pregnant body, using the assistance of the wall helps with balance.
YCNYC: What is the overall effect of the third pose on the body, and what does this one add to the understanding of the pose, and mind?
DF: This third picture is taking all of the pieces of the first two pictures and tying them together. We are simultaneously reaching through the crown of the head and back foot, rooting the tailbone, pulling up the front thigh and revolving the rib cage upwards. I do recommend for the pregnant mom to keep her focus downwards to help her balance. A focus upwards tends to be more challenging for balance and we do not want any mamas falling out of the pose. Balancing poses tend to help quiet the mind since they require sharper attention to the present moment. Usually, when the mind wonders in balancing poses, the student loses his/her balance.
Flashenberg's upcoming workshops include "An Exploration of Prenatal Yoga For Teachers and Students" April 30 at West Hartford Yoga. In March 2016, she will also lead Prenatal Yoga Teacher Trainings at the Prenatal Yoga Center.
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