I recently found out that I am expecting a baby, and as a Gyrotonic® practitioner and instructor I am discovering how welcoming the system’s exercises are in relation to my changing pregnant body.
There are a some basic principles of the Gyrotonic Expansion System® that I find particularly beneficial to pregnancy.
The first is the principle of ‘Narrowing’ – which refers to an internal action that lengthens the spine lifting the pelvic region and by so doing creates greater space for the baby and provides support to the uterus. This principle is linked to the idea of creating stabilisation through contrast, which translates into finding the right balance between expanding our bodies and pulling in toward the centre or the core of the body. This creates a mobile stability as opposed to a fixed stability, a kind of jelly fish action which, incidentally is an image I have been told to be useful to visualise during labour.
Breathing patterns in Gyrotonic® are influenced and based on Yoga Breathing (Pranayama). Early on in my pregnancy I came across the book ‘Mother’s Breath’ by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, where yoga breathing patterns are explained in detail to prepare the mind to relax in labour, in order to let the body do its workings. So it seems an obvious connection to me that practicing Gyrotonic® can help with encouraging relaxation in labour.
During pregnancy, the increasing weight of the baby can easily make women assume a posture that compresses the body’s joints, particularly in the lower back and in the joints of the legs. In Gyrotonic® it is important to create and maintain space in the joints of the body. One way of creating this space is through the opposition of forces described in the narrowing above. After a Gyrotonic® session my lower back feels lengthened and my legs lighter and having more bounce when I walk, this because Gyrotonic® exercises decompress joints to aid their maximum range of movement.
One of the main movements in Gyrotonic® is the Arch and Curl, a fundamental movement of the system that is usually encouraged at the beginning of a session. This action integrates a rocking motion of the spine which encourages mobility in the pelvic region, also facilitating the natural movements of the baby inside the womb and encouraging therefore its best positioning for childbirth. In an ante-natal class taught by Lolly Stirk at triyoga she spoke of embracing the baby in curving the spine which I found a beautiful and appropriate image even for Gyrotonic® curl. An embrace is supportive, and that is also true in Gyrotonic® where we think of an embracing, scooping action of the pelvis.
As a pregnant woman I have noticed quite quickly the impact on my body in relation to increased blood supply. I feel breathless more easily and my legs can also feel more tired than usual. Gyrotonic® exercises when executed with deep breathing and fluidity encourage cardiovascular activity which helps blood circulation. This helps to ensure a healthy circulation, particularly in the legs, which can struggle to pump the blood back up when holding the extra weight. A healthy circulation prevents the emergence of varicose veins and leg cramps.
Generally since the Gyrotonic® equipment is designed around and to support the human body, it is a further advantage in pregnancy for the simple reason that as one does get progressively heavier the apparatus’ handle unit and the traction provided by the weights and pulleys will naturally support the need to accommodate the extra weight.
About Luisa Lazzaro
Luisa Lazzaro graduated from The Laban Centre in London obtaining a BA in dance Theatre in 1995. Since then she has worked for the most part in the performance sector. With a keen interest in movement and how the human body works she discovered GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS®, and was grabbed by its concepts of internal expansion and multi dimensionality.
Following a knee surgery in 2006 she began to search for a practice that would deepen her understanding of the human body in motion. The practice of GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® made it possible for her to return to performance with a healthier approach.
When teaching clients Luisa aspires to increase awareness of injury and pain prevention, connection and strength, flow and mobility, as well as enjoyment and a sense of attainability in the sessions.