Twenty years ago last month, toward the end of my evening yoga class, we were instructed to sit comfortably for breathing meditation. I’d been taking yoga for years, and had found a wonderful class for pregnant women at the Pierce Program. My best friend was there, too. She was five weeks behind me and we’d been rubbing bellies since the beginning. Little did we know our girls (all of them) would be life-long friends.

Our class always ended with meditative breathing sessions—I love Caring Breath the best. It really helps to bring focus to the “whirrings of the mind” (from Patanjali’s yoga sutra 1.2 Chitta Vriti Nirodha. Chitta=mind; Vriti=movement; Ni=from every direction; Rodha=confine or discipline). But this time when I came up to sitting, I felt like I was sitting on a bowling ball! “Isn’t this interesting?” I thought, as I tried to arrange myself more comfortably on my cushion. “Am I sitting on her head?” I worried. My friend caught my eye. “Are you ok?” she asked cautiously. “Yes” I said, with equal caution.

I didn’t deliver in class, but maybe it was the calm vibe or the gentle movement that caused that most magical of processes to start. Prenatal yoga done in a class setting creates a wonderful, loving support structure—other women who are going through many of the same things you’ve been facing. Some are further along, providing a little window into the next several months. Others have kids at home. These experts smile knowingly and offer words of encouragement. Labor horror stories are left at the door—only personal accounts are allowed in and give a framework to your idea of what a “normal” labor and delivery might look like.

As I said, I’m still friends with my fellow yogini, who knew almost before I did that something was stirring. The bonding that happens as we breathe and move together isn’t soon forgotten, and becomes oh-so-essential in the coming weeks, months and years. And starting labor in that loving and safe environment set the stage for a peaceful, if not easy, delivery of my first daughter.

Most pregnant women who’ve been doing yoga all along can comfortably continue in their regular yoga classes, with some important modifications. But there’s something incredibly special about sharing that sacred space with other women and their growing bellies. I craved that connection when I was having my kids, and I love to provide a place for that energy to grow in my prenatal yoga classes at Decatur Yoga & Pilates. I even used yoga techniques I learned in class (both asanas, or postures and pranayama, or breathwork) during labor and delivery. I’m now trained to teach Yoga-Born childbirth education classes, which combine yoga with all the information you need for labor and delivery.

Mother-to-Mother Massage & Yoga Therapy creates a sacred space for women to explore pregnanc and motherhood in community, with nurturing and support.