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Aquatic Yoga

Title: Aqua Yoga: Harmonizing Exercises in Water for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond by Francoise Barbira Freedman
ISBN: 0754-80745-2
ISBN 13: 978-0754-80745-2
Publisher: Lorenz Books

‘Aqua Yoga: Harmonizing Exercises in Water for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond’ by Francoise Barbira Freedman is a beautiful, instructive, concise volume for pregnancy and new moms. It is presented in large format with detailed photographs of each aquatic Yoga asana sequence. The text is simply written and no explanations or descriptions are left hazy or wanting.

The book opens with asanas and swimming techniques for the pregnant mother that aid in muscular-skeletal alignment and breathing. The pelvic bowl is given special consideration and of interest is the attention paid to floating relaxation and anti-anxiety techniques.

I must admit that as a male without children I wasn’t expecting a section on actually giving birth in water, complete with preparatory exercises focusing on labor pains and opening the pelvis.

While photographs of mother and infant practicing Yoga in the water together are clearly instructive and not creatively artistic, I was touched by the concept of an intimate sharing of the aquatic experience.

The after-birth section includes complete sequences for healing and bringing the body into a perfect state of fitness.

The book, at a slim one hundred pages, is designed in six sections: Introducing Aqua Yoga; Antenatal Aqua Yoga; Antenatal swimming; Antenatal breathing and relaxation; Preparing for a Waterbirth; and Postnatal Aqua Yoga and Swimming.

The forward is penned by Dianne Garland who lectures worldwide on the use of water in the birth process, and childbirth pioneer Michael Odent, the founder of Primal Health Research Center in London, England.

The author, Francoise Barbira Freedman, is a medical anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, a Yoga teacher and founder of the charitable trust, ‘Birthlight’, and a lecturer for England’s National Health Service. Ms. Freedman has held a deep interest in childbirth since her early studies in the Amazon. Her Yoga technique is known for its focus on ‘vinyasa’ – timing asana sequences to the breath – and for adapting Yoga asanas specifically for the requirements of pregnancy and after-birth health and reproductive fitness.

Yoga is a lifetime commitment to learning and exploration, and after practicing Yoga on multiple levels and utilizing numerous approaches, I am amazed at how much I do not know and how fascinating Yoga remains to me. ‘Aqua Yoga: Harmonizing Exercises in Water for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond’ by Francoise Barbira Freedman taught me a great deal about a specialized field within Yoga. I hold this book by Ms. Freedman in highest regard and recommend it to all pregnant and new mothers as a must read.