The whoosh of heavy breath grew stronger as a class of about a dozen women in various stages of pregnancy bent, rolled, and stretched their way through the motions: triangle pose, warrior two, warrior one, plank, four pushups.
“Positive energy moms. Stay focused. You’re coming to the crescendo of class,” said yoga instructor Sarah Longacre. “Beautiful. When you’re done, tuck the toes, meet in downward dog.”
Longacre is the founder and owner of Blooma, a studio at 44th Street and France Avenue in Edina that focuses on prenatal and postnatal yoga. It also offers massages, acupuncture and chiropractic services, educational courses for moms and couples, daycare, products, and yoga classes for kids and families.
Blooma combines Longacre’s experience as a doula — someone who accompanies and supports a woman through childbirth — and as a yoga instructor who has taught at multiple sites in Minneapolis.
Other studios offer yoga for moms, but none make it their top priority, Longacre said. So far, it’s been a hit with women from all over the Twin Cities.
“This gives moms a time to sink deep inside of themselves and have that time alone with that connection of their baby and their body and their breath,” said
Longacre, who teaches classes along with several other instructors.
Longacre doesn’t have children of her own, but considers herself a surrogate mother of more than 350 children she has birthed as a doula.
Pregnancy and early motherhood can be a hectic, stressful time for women and families, she said. Blooma’s yoga classes help moms slow down, find their breath, and relax. They also give moms the strength and confidence to make it through childbirth.
Women of all yoga levels are welcome, from beginners to experts Longacre said. The classes are anything but intimidating.
“There’s no judgment here, there’s no stuffiness. It’s very laid back,” she said.
Yoga participant Talia Jackson, 30, of Bryn Mawr, found Blooma a few months into her pregnancy.
“I didn’t feel like I was able to get exercise anywhere… and I wasn’t able to do any of the old things that I used to do for exercise so I was so glad to find a place that completely focused on mamas to be and their bodies,” Jackson said.
She had son Nadav in March and said Blooma and the people she met there made her pregnancy and childbirth much easier. After a February class, when she was eight months pregnant, Jackson called Blooma the best part of her pregnancy.
“It’s this energy that Sarah creates that you get to carry with you throughout the week and it helps you with strength and preparing for birth,” Jackson said.
Jackson said she would continue to take yoga classes at Blooma, possibly with Nadav.
Blooma has developed a reputation as the place to go for prenatal yoga, but its postnatal sessions are just as popular, Longacre said. Relaxation and abdominal workouts are often a focus of postnatal sessions and the studio offers classes that allow new moms to practice yoga with or without their babies.
Longacre said the baby yoga, called Bring Your Own Baby (BYOB) is good for the little ones’ digestive systems and helps them eat and sleep better, something some participants have noticed.
Allison Pankratz, from Eagan, said she brought her son, Gus, to yoga six weeks after he was born. After the first session, he slept all day, she said.
“He was a little fussy the first time, but now he’s gotten used to it,” said Pankratz before taking part in a February class.
Sitting near Pankratz was Susan Lundquist, from Kingfield, who brought her two-week-old twins Beatrice and Laura for the first time.
“Today I really wanted to get out of the house and with twins it’s hard to get out,” she said.
Getting moms out of the home is another big part of what Blooma does, Longacre said. And if mom wants to do yoga without the kids, the studio’s daycare program can make that happen.
“If [daycare] was not here, I would not be coming,” said yoga participant Nicole Kohorst, who has a two-year old son, Max, and a baby on the way.
The $5 daycare program has a limit of nine to 10 children and there is a waiting list for some classes.
Blooma also has separate classes for children, split by age level, and offers family classes once a month.
With less than a year of business under her belt, Longacre said Blooma’s popularity has already got her thinking of expanding.
“We are already bypassing what we ever thought possible,” Longacre said. “It’s been absolutely fantastic.”
Jake Weyer is a reporter for the Southwest Journal.
Blooma, a business specializing in prenatal and postnatal yoga, wellness and education
3919 W. 44th St.