Prenatal with Lisa Kazmer, Bija Yoga
The word Bija means ‘seed’ in the Sanskrit language, a beginning point of potential and awareness, which is a perfect description of pregnancy. Sanskrit and its sounds are a focus at Bija Yoga, a beautiful new studio located in Union Square. Shining low on the chocolate-purple walls strings of white lights line the practice space and altar, while the high ceilings beg for some deep chanting. Babies seem to love chanting and baritone voices so Lisa invited us to prepare the ground with three low-pitched OM’s.
Tonight it was just Lisa, myself, and Veronica (the studio’s owner and non-pregnant participant) sitting in our comfy seats breathing with sound. We deepened our awareness as breath moved from root to crown Chakra with micro retentions at top and bottom. Then Lisa had us recall that soft-spot at the crown of the head we all had at birth. Borders became porous as we drew the breath in through this remembered opening and extended it out beyond pelvic floor, everything fluid.
As we transitioned onto hands and knees, Lisa pressed play on her ‘goddess’ mix, which included traditional yogic music and to my delight one passionate Mexican Ranchera. Clearly this is a space where sound is enjoyed as much as movement. Lisa encouraged us to let our bodies, ‘get a little moon’ as we moved with the hips and spiraled the spine. We flipped the script leaving sun salutes for another day, opting instead for a very intuitive stretch I call the pinwheel series.
Taking a wide straddle we bent one leg in towards us, heel close to pubic bone, and the other behind us, heel towards seat. Lisa had us gently rock forward over the front bent leg and then back, bringing the hands to the floor behind us. We moved for a few breaths getting the back leg involved by gently lifting the knee away from the mat as we tipped back. Then keeping the legs fixed, a chest opening was added by sweeping the arm up and opening it behind us as our other palm supported the lean. After that we brought our palms to the floor behind us or came down on forearms and leaned away from the legs, letting the breath audibly flow out of an open mouth. There is nothing like the intense and satisfying stretch in the hip flexor and the groin, which we altered by walking the torso to different positions. This series felt incredible and hit all of the muscles in the legs that become tight from the body shifting and fixed sleeping positions.
After we were loose we took small Vinyasa’s starting on hands and knees. Moving forward to a half push-up, we then walked hands back to stand on shins for a small Camel pose with hands at the lower back. Careful not to over encourage the stretching of ab muscles, Lisa responsibly reminded me to make sure I wasn’t overdoing the back-bend in the upper ribs.
By this time we were really warm and feeling comfortable so we got a little more ‘moon’ with our movements. From hands and knees we brought the top of our bodies to Chatturanga arms and inched forward. Then we fluidly rounded our backs moving the body towards a child’s pose with the hips really lifted. Staying low, we started the movement forward once again. Lather, rinse, repeat, then reverse the cycle.
Lisa had us imagine that the baby is like the cork in a wine bottle that needs to be eased out, a metaphor she uses while assisting mothers in labor as a Doula. Thankfully all corks managed to stay put, but the primacy of the movements conjured our inner animal which is also helpful in labor.
To stretch the muscle of the pelvic floor that attaches across the sitting bones, we came to a wide Anjaneyasana (Crescent lunge) with blocks and traced a circle on the wall behind us with the sit bone of the bent knee. This one felt as good as the pinwheel series, leaving me with the sensation that I had breathed a little more space into the hip sockets. After all of that juicy and rhythmic stretching Lisa gave us a standing sequence that contained as much creativity as the seated.
In Warrior I we interlaced fingers, palms pressed overhead, and brought chin to chest. Lisa deepened the neck and shoulder stretch by gently drawing our arms back away from our ears. We then found comfort in a Warrior II, Peaceful Warrior flow, ending in a full Parsvakonasana where we circled the top arm in both directions to release the shoulder and open the chest. With the palm at the sacrum, we straightened the front leg to a half-bound Trikonasana, which focused the opening at the shoulder.
We ended the class with a Parvritta Janu Sirsasana, which we didn’t take too deep. Instead, with hand behind the head we focused on the breath and opening the chest as the elbow reached for the ceiling and then released the upper back by letting the elbow hang towards the floor. By this time the goddess mix had slowed and the breath became quiet as the overhead lights dimmed.
The string of lights were left on, illuminating the floor on which we were to lie in a half-moon surrender. We took a side lying Savasana with one leg supported from ankle to knee, resting on two blankets stacked on top of two blocks. Lisa nudged a blanket under my full belly, a place often neglected. After a sufficient rest we once again found our easy seat, inhaled deeply and let out three ground hugging OM’s. Then we sat in the glowing space together to share a few more sounds.
Class information may not be currently offered. Please visit LisaDevi.com for most current class schedule