Prenatal Yoga: An interview with Deb Flashenberg, Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center

We sat down with Deb Flashenberg, Owner and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center in New York. Deb has taught yoga for over ten years and is also a DONA certified labor support doula; she brings a wealth of knowledge in teaching and supporting women during pregnancy and beyond. The Prenatal Yoga Center is an ever popular yoga go-to for women in New York, boasting 5 locations in the city and offering yoga classes for prenatal, postnatal and additional classes about birth, breastfeeding, baby massage and more. Deb has created a haven for women to practice yoga safely during pregnancy and beyond while also growing a community of pregnant and new moms who can learn from and support each other.

How can prenatal yoga help to improve a woman’s pregnancy and birthing experience? Prenatal yoga helps alleviate a pregnant woman’s bodily aches and pains. It also provides a woman with confidence and familiarity with the body that can translate directly into labor. Through yoga, a pregnant woman can create a sense of stamina and endurance that can help her as she moves into labor and delivery.

What are the most common concerns for women during pregnancy that you find in your yoga practice? I think pregnant women are often uncomfortable because of the phyisical changes to their bodies happening on a daily basis. They are also concerned about what they can safely do. Many women are scared about their upcoming labor and some (mostly postpartum) are scared of losing their identity once they become mothers. If they had any career before, they are either on hiatus or have decided to step back, and being a full-time mom can be overwhelming to some.

What is your favorite pose for pregnant women? I really like internal rotation poses to help stabilize the pelvis and counterbalance all of the external rotation of waddling.

What can women expect when they attend a class at the Prenatal Yoga Center? We use a three-pronged approach to our teaching: 1) Physical comfort: help to manage daily aches and pains, 2) Childbirth education: Interweave childbirth education themes and current birthing trends, 3) Community: Create a community where women can give and receive support both during pregnancy and postpartum

What inspires you and your yoga practice? Learning. In my own yoga practice, I go to teachers from whom I can learn.  When I get inspired by my teacher, I’ll work that into my class themes and into my blog.

What is the greatest challenge you face in teaching yoga to pregnant women? Sometimes they’re kind of moody! The moodiness aside, the biggest challenge I have is working with a student who had a relatively strong practice before getting pregnant. They have to recognize that their asana practice isn’t about them anymore; it’s about honoring their pregnancy and their baby. I don’t want them to hurt themselves and I encourage them to surrender.

What is the greatest reward? There are so many! Hearing the stories about what we taught them and how it served them and gave them a new confidence. Or if they started to approach their birth from a new place by learning they can make choices in their childbirth and approach it from a place of power.

How do you live a natural lifestyle? My lifestyle tends to go towards chemical-free. I think the less foreign objects you can bring into contact with your body, the better. It is important to be really mindful of what you incorporate into your life.

What is your top tip for pregnant women? Do prenatal yoga. And educate yourself!

What is your favorite Nine Naturals product? I like the the shampoos!  They are light and I like knowing they are chemical free!

For more from Deb, you can check out her YouTube Channel for beneficial yoga exercises during pregnancy.