If you are a yogi-mama who’s had a baby in the last, oh, thirteen years or so, you’ll likely be familiar with this month’s Teacher Feature, Barrett Reinhorn, who’s been teaching our very popular pre- and postnatal yoga classes at O2 since 2004.
Barrett started doing yoga as a teenager after wandering into the Himalayan Institute in her native Buffalo, New York. “I would take classes there a few times a month but what I really loved was their library. I took out my first yoga video there (Astanga!) and bought my first book there (Iyengar!) and got hooked on strong, powerful yoga,” she said. She took her first Teacher Training with Mimi’s teacher, Beryl Bender Birch, in 1997. Then after college, Barret completed a 200-Hour Teacher Training program in upstate New York (“While living in a tent!” Barrett said) and then wound up in Cambridge crashing on a friend’s couch as she got her teaching career up and running just two days later. “That’s right, I taught my first yoga class before I had my own apartment. That was the end of 1999 and I’ve been teaching ever since in the Cambridge/Somerville area,” Barrett said.
Interest in teaching mamas-to-be came about five years later. “Even though I was in my early 20’s, something about pregnant women in my class really focused me — I found that when a pregnant person came to class, I would watch to see how every pose affected her,” Barrett said. That’s why she hopped a plane to Seattle in 2003 to do an extensive prenatal training and from there, the passion to specialize in this teaching area was born. Barrett began working for a doula and childbirth education training program. She met with leaders in the field of birth — researchers, midwives, and educators. “It was an amazing incubator to be in while diving deep into teaching prenatal yoga,” Barrett said. Now she leads her own Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training programs, Level I and Level II. Level I with Barrett will be offered in our Cambridge Studio April 27-30. Details about the training are available here.
How do all roads lead to O2? Well, Barrett discovered our Somerville Studio right after it opened in 2001. “I loved going to Mimi’s Master Classes — I even went up to Portsmouth a few times to take class there,” Barrett said. Then in 2004, Barrett taught her first prenatal class in our Somerville Studio on a Sunday evening — and seventeen women attended! Clearly, the class was a successful addition to the schedule and has remained there ever since. “Literally a few thousand pregnant women have come through,” Barrett said.
And since many of our Frequently Asked Questions have to do with both our pre and postnatal classes, we thought we’d take a few moments to explain these specialty classes in greater detail…
PRENATAL YOGA is for women at any stage of pregnancy to attend. No previous yoga experience is required as these classes are designed specifically for pregnant women. Students who have an existing yoga practice can pick up a lot of very helpful modifications to use in their regular yoga classes, so at O2, we often recommend pregnant yogis check out a prenatal class or two as a companion practice to their regular one. These classes also contain a community aspect where mamas-to-be can talk about how they’re feeling — physically, mentally, emotionally — which adds a lovely way to connect with the other women in the room.
MOMMY & BABY YOGA (or Postnatal Yoga) is for new moms to attend with or without their babies once their doctors have cleared them to resume exercise. This class is intended to help rebuild back, pelvic floor, and core strength in a flexible environment that allows mamas to step in and out of class, as needed, should their babies need to be fed or changed or soothed. Just like the prenatal classes, there is a chance for women to share some of their experiences with the group and get to know other new moms! It should also be noted that the babies are not actual participants in the class but merely are welcomed into the space. Most students tuck their babies in their carseats or swaddle their babies to rest in a comfy spot by their mats during class. Babies are “too old” to attend once they become mobile (crawling, walking).
Pre- and postnatal classes are on their own pricing structure here at O2: drop-ins are $20 and 6-class packs are $100. These classes are transferable within pre- and postnatal class types but cannot be used for regular O2 classes. Likewise, regular O2 class packages/memberships cannot be used for pre- or postnatal classes. This is because of the specialty nature of the classes and the additional training the teachers (beyond Barrett, Devon teaches regular pre- and postnatal classes, and Jill will be leading a Prenatal New Year’s Eve class in Cambridge) have completed to have the expertise to work with both mamas-to-be and new moms. There is more information about these class types here.
We are so grateful for the addition of Barrett to our teaching staff and know how much her students adore her, too. She’s always learning more, attending trainings and lectures and keeping up to date with current trends in the birthing world. She’s also a mom herself with two absolutely charming sons, ages six and two, so hers is a good brain to pick, ladies! Thank you, Barrett, for all you’ve done to make our prenatal and postnatal yoga offerings some of the best in the area, not just by teaching the classes yourself but by training some of our teachers to lead them, too. O2’s community is all the richer for it.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“I took Mimi’s classes while she was expecting – so I learned that having a yoga practice is just about the best thing you can give yourself when you’re pregnant. I was a decade away from having my own kiddos, but seeing another teacher be strong, safe and confident in pregnancy made me know that others could too. I still remember her demo’ing a handstand while pregnant and saying, ‘Babies love to be upside down!’ And, it’s true! (No, we don’t do handstands in the prenatal class).”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
“Abhyasa and vairagya! Translated in a pithy way you can remember: ‘Never give up’ (abhyasa) and ‘always let go!’ (vairagya). For sure in my parenting this is true, but also in my own practice, teaching, work, marriage, etc. It’s a teaching I am constantly re-learning.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from another teacher?
“Beryl Bender Birch in the O2 Yoga studio many years ago said, ‘Someday you will have to let go of all the poses.’ And then she whispered, ‘But not today.’ Brilliant.”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“In prenatal yoga, Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon). Many pregnant women feel exhilarated when, just days before giving birth, they’re doing such a graceful pose. It’s pretty amazing to look around a room of twenty pregnant women and see everyone in this pose. And then the smiles after! In postnatal yoga, anything belly down like Shalabasana. It’s so good to lie on your belly again and strengthen your back – plus you can do it face to face while your baby gets some tummy time too.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Handstands, always and forever.”
What’s your “dream pose”?
Do you have a theme song?
“I almost constantly have a song stuck in my head, and 100% of the time it is a kids’ song. The downside to having a two-year-old.”
Do you play music in class? Why or why not?
“I enjoy playing wordless music, sometimes just at the beginning of class, and sometimes throughout. As long as you aren’t spending all your time DJ’ing, I think music can create a ‘bhava,’ a mood, that is conducive to students feeling totally immersed in the experience. Fun fact! Lots of prenatal babies have been born to music from our class. I write down what I play in class all the time for people to download.”