A Journal On How My Movement Pratice Changed During Pregnancy


The time I realized that I was pregnant, I was in Israel to perform at the Small Dances Festival in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This was around christmas 2016. My body was suddenly full of tiredness and I was highly sensitive to smell and taste. Outside the rehearsal and performance times I mostly rested. I could feel that my body was going through a very big change.
When I arrived back to Berlin and had a meeting with the doctor, I told her with slight worry that I am a dancer, movement practitioner and teacher. I had no idea how the pregnancy would alter what I did physically and was scared to loose the daily routine of training, rehearsing, teaching. Before the pregnancy I moved between five and eight hours a day, developing my dancing, working on my strength, flexibility, balance and much more.
The simple answer of my doctor was: „Everything you did before being pregnant, your body knows, and you will still be able to do. There will be some things that will filter themselves out naturally by the time passing and your body will tell you how to react.“
She was right. Not at any moment was I unsure of what I am capable of. I trusted in my physical sensitivity and awareness and knew that I could not do anything wrong if I only listen well enough to what my body is telling me.
During January and February my practice stayed the same as before the pregnancy, including strength training and handstand work.
Towards the end of March I realized that upper body strength exercises, especially when concentric (Pull-ups, Muscle-ups, Front Lever Pull, etc.) did not feel good anymore. The first pull initiation needs a very strong activation of the abdominal area, something that I realized I could not fulfill anymore. It made my stomach become as hard as a rock – a safety mechanism by the body, meaning, this is too much. So I altered the exercises to either static holds (Front Lever hold, Ring Support) or eccentric only.
With the additional weight that was added slowly, I started to have back pain. I realized my back was not strong enough to support the new weight and my posture became very poor.
Two main things that I did to take care of my back:
– Having constant awareness of my posture by visualizing the
belly not in front of me but inside me, as the center of mass.
– Strengthening my lower back and legs with little weights
Split squats with 20 kg
Good Mornings with 10 kg
In April I was working in Lübeck with TanzOrtNord. We had around six hours of rehearsals a day. I had to add regular afternoon sleeps to get through the rehearsal process.
For my own training I kept the strength work of the previous month and spend a lot of time in different squat positions to ensure my hips to stay open.
For my dancing practice I was working on the idea of moving from the center – something I learned from Shai Faran. When working with this idea, every movement is connected to your core. There cannot be a movement exclusively in the extremities.
This was so connected to my personal situation, since my center was so present with all its changes and the movement of the child inside me, that it was a beautiful task to work with.
In order to ensure my torso to keep moveable I did circles and waves in the spine.
In May, my training changed further. I dropped to use weights and only worked with my own body weight. I became tired more quickly and started to search for calmer movement practices. Feldenkrais has always been a field I wanted to explore further, so I found a great place in Berlin feldenkrais mitte. Every single class was a treasure. Funny enough the main subject in the classes was the pelvis.
I also did an Iyengar yoga workshop with Alexis Simon, who taught me very helpful ways to bring space in my abdomen area and hips – supported back bends, side bends and headstand.
June was already month eight, another month with daily Feldenkrais lessons, dancing with connection to the center and more passive stretching. As I could feel my muscles and ligaments becoming more soft, also all movement practices I did were soft and calm. It was time to give in to what my body was preparing for. I was working with a soft and adaptable mindset.
It happened frequently that the plans I had for the day were altered by how I felt. Often I had bigger plans but realized I didn’t have enough strength to fulfill them. To realize it is not about my personal wishes and desires but that I have to adapt to an external ‚force‘, was an important preparation for the birth and I guess also for the time after.
In July I had to drop the circular and wave movements in the spine as it made me feel nauseous and exchanged it with static holds such as forward, side and back bends as well as circles in the pelvis only.
From this month until the end I did the exercises you can see in the video and some more, to open the hips (in the squat mainly), stretch the psoas, creating space in the abdominal area (supported back bends on table or bridges), rotations and bends of upper body in sitting position. I also started to swim.
From July onwards I didn’t do anything that would require any amount of strength, force or speed. I adapted to my softening muscles and ligaments and encouraged this development with very soft and smooth movements.
To keep a bit of excitement in my practice, I was balancing on rails to challenge my awareness and sense of balance. Again, in a very soft way. Once you start to feel another body inside you, it makes you be much more careful of doing dangerous things. So I only stayed with tasks I knew I can do, lets say 70 % of the normal practice.
The month of August was pretty much similar to July in terms of my movement practice. I started to prepare more mentally and practiced breathing exercises from Frédérick Leboyer.

For a detailed plan throughout the months: https://www.facebook.com/annika.dorr.52/posts/1826669014013202

The video you see was filmed 33 hours before the birth of our son. It was my last dance with him inside me. Now I am looking forward to dance with him in the real world.

Recommended Readings:
Frédérick Leboyer „Die Kunst zu Atmen“, 1983
Frédérick Leboyer „Das Fest der Geburt“, 2008

Music by Nufa – In Arkadien

During Pregnancy

For a detailed plan throughout the months: My Facebook

The video you see was filmed 33 hours before the birth of our son. It was my last dance with him inside me. Now I am looking forward to dance with him in the real world.

Recommended Readings:
Frédérick Leboyer „Die Kunst zu Atmen“, 1983
Frédérick Leboyer „Das Fest der Geburt“, 2008

Music by Nufa – In Arkadien