Fitness Expert to the Stars Kristin McGee Talks About the Benefits of Yoga For Moms — Exclusive!
Kristin McGee knows yoga. She’s appeared on everything from Good Morning America to The Tyra Banks Show. For years, she’s been training celebs on how to attain and maintain exceptional fitness levels, and recently Kristin sat down with Loop du Loop to tell us why every mom — and their kids! — needs to try yoga.
Loop du Loop: You’ve worked with a lot of high profile moms — Tina Fey, Bethenny Frankel — do you have a lot of moms who seek out yoga?
Kristin McGee: Definitely, for a lot of reasons. One: Sometimes it’s hard to find classes that are active enough — that there are a lot of prenatal yoga classes that are are sometimes too slow, especially for moms who are already active, who already do yoga, who feel like they can still move. It’s not like I need to sit there and cradle my legs for 30 minutes, you know? So I work with a lot of moms and even a lot for fertility clients who are trying to conceive. I do a Yoga for Fertility class at the Reproductive Medicine Clinic in Manhattan. Because I feel like there’s more than three trimesters, I feel like there’s almost five — there’s pre, there’s the three, and then there’s the after you have your baby. I feel like people don’t even talk about how demanding and how different that can be as well, because your body is going back and dealing with all the changes it’s been through.
What is it about yoga that you think is particularly good for moms? What are some of the specific benefits?
The number one is stress reduction. I feel like yoga has such an immediate calming effect on our minds and our bodies, because it's about uniting with ourselves. Yoga is such a great way to comfort ourselves and connect with ourselves, and put ourselves first and foremost. So we can only breathe for ourselves, no one can breathe for us, and so when we start to work with the mind, the body, the breath, and that nice low impact movement I think it really helps moms get into a nicer mental state — doing something that is great for their bodies that’s low impact.
In yoga so many of the poses you rely on your own self to support and your own body, and I think that even, just for instance, when someone is in Warrior II — you get that strength and that confidence and you are holding yourself up and supporting yourself with your legs. You’re strengthening yourself from the foundation up, which is really important for moms because of the imbalances that can be created during pregnancy, and then once you have your baby and the way you carry your baby. I think yoga works on so many different levels because it’s strength, flexibility, posture, breath, stress reduction, and it’s safe and low impact enough. Despite the fact that pregnant women tend to have looser joints, they just have to be careful that they don’t over stretch. It also helps sleep, and I know that both during and after pregnancy sleep can be so affected.
What are some of the misconceptions that you find people have about yoga? That it’s not going to be enough of a workout. I think a lot of people feel that. I think that people just think that it’s going to be too slow, or too boring, or it’s not really going to help them stay in shape. I think sometimes mothers worry about “how is it going to help me stay in shape” or “how is it going to help me get back into shape too,” and that really it’s a whole lifestyle change, so it helps you stay in shape throughout your pregnancy because you are so much more connected to yourself. It’s all about you uniting. It’s about you uniting your body to your breath. So you’re more in tune with your hunger cues and with physical sensations in your body.
The practice for me — and I’ve been practicing over 20 years now — it really helps you become your own best friend and learn more and more about your body. You get so in touch with your body that it also helps you discern, ‘Oh, this doesn’t feel right,’ or “Maybe this is something I do need to ask my doctor about,” or “That’s OK, that’s a little cramp,” or, “That’s a little pain. I’ll be fine — I’ll do this instead.” So I think it’s just that hyper awareness or that total body awareness that helps us so much through the yoga practice, and then the strength and the relying on using your own body to hold yourself in these postures can be very physically demanding and can actually really help you stay in good shape.
A lot of our readers have kids ages 2 to 12, do you find that kids that age can benefit from yoga as well?
100%. I have a yoga DVD called Bendigirl Yoga and it’s for kids. I find moms and kids love to do it together. I think that getting to know your body from a young age is so important. If more children had that kind of peripheral perception and self awareness from a young age, I think that it would help them so much with balancing themselves out — balancing emotions and learning how to breathe. Yoga is so fun — there are so many poses that make you feel like a kid again if you are adult and as a kid are so fun to do.