What My First Prenatal Yoga Class in England Taught Me

My family and I have recently moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Bradford-on-Avon, England, for a year. Our mission: try out life at a slower pace. In my new series Brooklyn to England, I’ll write about the weekly adventures of living in the English countryside with my British husband, our three-year-old daughter, and my baby-bump (I’m due in September!). Come with me as I go from strollers to prams, diapers to nappies, and whatever else it takes to raise a family abroad.

It wasn’t until moving to Bradford-on-Avon, England, that I realized what an aggressive New Yorker I have become. Not in a loud-mouthed, neurotic-and-unfriendly kind of way (which are clichés, anyway—we’re not f*cking like that!), but when I got here, I guess I just wasn’t ready to stop and smell the roses, no matter how stunning. Nope, I kept my eye on the prize. In order to fit in, to make friends, to know my way around BoA, I’d have to strategize; roll up my sleeves and get to work.

My game plan? Yoga. Odd, maybe, but some of my closest friends are those I met while pregnant with Trixie, so I thought a prenatal (I mean antenatal, as the Brits say) class would be just the ticket. We’d been in England for 10 minutes when I started e-mailing every yoga practitioner in town. That’s right, both of ‘em. One teacher never wrote back—she must have seen the desperation in my font and deleted the e-mail instantly—but the other teacher got back pretty quickly. Bad news though: It turned out Julie’s pregnancy yoga class was full. A normal person would accept that information and move on. Me? Not so much. I hit reply, spreading manic ‘new girl’ charm like marmalade on toast. I told her how badly I wanted to take her class, how helpful it would be in making friends; my urge to stretch and ommm and sink into child’s pose and—nope, still no room at the inn.

Back at the drawing board, I uncapped my highlighter and began to skim the local listings. Lots popped out at me, from Jane Austen Dancers to the Secret Garden Festival and Back to Netball, but my hawk-eyes zeroed in on Hatha yoga (kind of a menopausal version of prenatal yoga) taught by the same teacher, Julie. Right away I e-mailed her—(Is it Zen to stalk a yoga teacher?)—begging to join hatha, if pregnancy yoga would not have me. I ended my e-mail by thanking her for putting up with my, shall we say, persistence, to which she emoj-illy replied, “Yes, you are definitely one of the more persistent persons I’ve ever come across!”  But she sounded amused. Ish. Hatha turned out to be as tame as I thought it would, but my perseverance  paid off. Our face-time at Hatha got me on Julie’s radar, and she soon told me I could take pregnancy yoga while one of her regular students went on holiday for two weeks. Yes! I beat the yoga system!

The following Monday, as I inched down the Mount Everest-like hill toward town, I reminisced over prenatal yoga in Brooklyn. I was still picturing my old class—crammed with twenty preggos, each of us with a different worry, a different goal—when I entered a bright, airy, carpeted room at the local chiropractic clinic … and saw three women. That’s right, three. The class that was too-crowded-for-one-more-student held a total of four pregnant women and their yoga mats. That’s, like, smaller than a Brooklyn kitchen.

The class was great though. As I posed and pranayama’d I felt my stress melt away like tar on a rooftop in July. It dawned on me that there was more to being there than a psychotic New York zeal to get ‘in‘. In fact, it was the first time in weeks I’d had an entire hour to focus on my unborn baby. Because, oh yeah, that’s happening. And it felt good to be reminded. Afterward, while the four of us caressed our bumps, chatting over tea and digestive biscuits, I could enjoy their company without feeling like a shark in a teaspoon of water. Our banter felt natural. Fun. In fact, I must have done something right, because one of the girls even offered me a ride home to save me another trek up Mount Everest.

Today’s lesson? Maybe, sometimes, being an aggressive New Yorker isn’t that bad.

Photo: Getty