As a longtime studier and practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of movement, Alan Questel came to realize that pregnant women would best benefit from his teachings. ”They were really the ideal population to interact with about this, in that they’re carrying a new life in them and they’re at a time when their bodes are changing radically, from week to week to week,” he tells PEOPLE.
Thus, Questel created Pregnant Pauses, a video series in which he instructs expectant mothers how to master movement as they move through the different stages of pregnancy via repetitions of movement termed “pauses.”
“I was looking at very concrete ways that could help pregnant women learn to do everyday efficient things, like getting in and out of a chair, rolling over, reaching for things, carrying something,” he says. “How to help alleviate the pain that comes to them in different stages of pregnancy, how to improve their breathing, how they can have more energy.”
The program’s DVDs feature Questel demonstrating six different pauses, both by himself and with the aid of a pregnant woman so viewers can mimic the movements at home. He also provides a brief background on each movement, and the theory behind its usefulness.
“What they’ll be physically doing are very, very small, gentle movements,” he says. “They do them in a way that I direct their attention to different parts of themselves. When someone is starting to roll, I can help orient them towards the relationship with the floor, towards more what they’re doing in the center, towards what they’re doing in the arms and legs. Pauses are structured in such a way that they result in a completely different form of moving that’s much more easy, much more effective, and much more efficient.”
“It’s about thinking about your muscles differently,” adds Elizabeth Robinson, a colleague of Questel’s who is in her third trimester. “There’s something that happens when you think about engaging specific muscles, and firing them in a certain way that makes that movement more successful and less painful.”
In addition, Pregnant Pauses can also be utilized as a companion activity to prenatal workouts.
“You’re not going to be working up a sweat doing the pauses,” says Robinson. “But it complements those traditional exercises because it’s really focused on helping you figure out how your nervous system connects and on creating a relationship between your skeletal and muscular system. Once you have that knowledge, you’ll able to do any other workout more effectively.”
And unlike traditional exercise, Questel says women can use Pregnant Pauses as sparingly or as religiously as they see fit.
“Some women do it once a day; some will do it once, twice, maybe three times a week,” he says. “I recommend to do it when they’re feeling less comfortable in their body.”
– Kiran Hefa