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When it comes to prenatal exercise, sometimes mother knows best. That’s certainly the case for “Baywatch” lifeguard Gena Lee Nolin. When the actress’s mom, Patricia Nolin, a Duluth, Minn., yoga instructor, heard news of her 25-year-old daughter’s first pregnancy, her immediate response was, “Great, let me fax you some exercises and help you find a good yoga teacher in L.A.” The teacher they found was Hollywood-based Gurmukh, who has taught yoga to celebrity moms Madonna, Annette Bening and Rosanna Arquette. Here, Gurmukh shares some of the exercises she teaches at the 90-minute prenatal class Gena Lee takes three days a week, and — still “Baywatch”-beautiful at seven months along — models and endorses them: “[My body] is tight and uncomfortable in the morning, but these stretches and poses really do help,” says Nolin, who’s married to video producer Greg Fahlman. “Yoga makes me feel good all over.”
Nolin, a former beauty-pageant winner and a model on TV’s “The Price Is Right,” always has been athletic, playing basketball, volleyball and softball in high school. (As the tallest girl, she was much in demand.) Before her pregnancy, Nolin did step aerobics and light weight work and walked on her home treadmill, in addition to yoga. She continued shooting “Baywatch” until she was 31/2 months along and posed for her 1998 calendar at almost four months. “I really didn’t begin showing until then,” she says.
Back to the beach. Of course, getting back to “Baywatch” shape might be a little more challenging, especially because she’ll be on the set the first week in August — two months after giving birth. She plans to take Gurmukh’s postpartum yoga classes and do cardio exercise. “I’ll ask for a lot of close-ups and chest-up shots for the first eight weeks on ‘Baywatch,’” adds Nolin, who plays tough-as-nails lifeguard Neely on the show. When she is ready physically, Nolin will add weight work and ab crunches back into her routine. For now, yoga’s the ticket. The nine moves that follow are designed to provide a total-body stretch-and-strengthen routine and to help ease pregnancy discomforts and prepare you for labor and delivery. Yoga is safe for pregnant women as long as they observe a few cautions, says Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D., author of Back Care Basics: A Doctor’s Gentle Yoga Program (Rodmell Press, 1992). “There are three [things] to avoid while pregnant: Don’t overstretch; avoid supine positions in the second half of pregnancy; and don’t do inverted poses such as headstands and shoulder stands,” Schatz says.
The younger Nolin is no yoga newcomer herself. As an 8-year-old, she watched her mother teach the art; Gena Lee’s Tree Pose is testament to her early balance and flexibility. And her baby, Justin Michael (due to make his appearance June 5) almost certainly will be on his own yoga mat before long; his mother insists that he has been enjoying her workout in the womb. “We sing at the end of every class, ‘May the longtime sun shine upon you,’ and I can feel this thump, thump, thump from him,” she says. “He loves it!”