For more than 27 years, Vista resident Liza Janda has worked as a fitness and yoga instructor, but her true passion is mentoring pregnant women.

The Baltimore-bred mother of two teaches prenatal yoga classes twice a week at Babies in Bloom Birth Center in Vista, and for more than 20 years she has been a Bradley Method natural childbirth instructor.

Janda said she feels the process of natural childbirth is both empowering and immensely gratifying for the mother and her family.

Q: How did you end up in the fitness industry?

A: It took me a long time to find my way. After I graduated from Loyola University Maryland I went to work for Westinghouse’s defense division and I hated it. Then I went to a Club Med on a vacation and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I spent three years as a general organizer with Club Med in the British West Indies, Mexico, Haiti and Tahiti. Then when I was 28, I moved to California because I couldn’t see going back to Baltimore. First I sold Donnelly Yellow Pages advertising and then I got a job at the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa doing office and fitness work. Finally I got a job at the Golden Door Spa where I taught fitness classes. I got married to my husband, Bill, while I was working there. I was 33.

Q: How did you become interested in natural childbirth?

A: When I was pregnant with my first child, my 22-year-old daughter Chloe, I was in total denial and terrified out of my mind. I wasn’t planning to take a childbirth class at all. Then at the beginning of my seventh month, three people told me about the Bradley Method and I signed up. It completely transformed my whole experience. I went from a place of fear to ‘oh my gosh, I can do this and I’m going to do this.’ Chloe’s birth wasn’t perfect but it was natural and it was extraordinary. I couldn’t believe I had done it. I realized I have a passion for birth and I wanted to empower other parents, so two years after Chloe was born — and two years before the natural birth of my 18-year-old son, Dickson — I got certified in the Bradley Method.

Q:What is the Bradley Method?

A: We advocate natural childbirth, active participation by the coach or partner, excellent nutrition, avoidance of drugs and breastfeeding at birth, among other things. I teach about five 22-hour courses a year with eight to 10 couples each, so I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of students over the past 20 years. Not every couple is successful having a natural childbirth, but I give parents the education to create their own vision of their best birth. For some that might mean a Caesarean or an epidural, but I try to answer all their questions so that they can trust themselves, their instincts, their body and their baby when the time comes.

Q: You’re a strong advocate against the over-use of Caesarean surgeries. Why?

A: The World Health Organization says that the ideal C-section rate should be 10 to 15 percent. In America, our rate is at 32.7 percent. In some communities, it’s over 40 percent. The risk of death for the mother is up to four times greater with a C-section than a vaginal birth. There are also studies that show the labor process is good for the baby. The contractions stimulate their circulation, hormones and immune system and they pick up beneficial bacterial as the move through the birth canal.

Q:When did you become a yoga instructor and what’s the difference between the two styles of yoga you teach, Vinyasa and Hatha?

A: When I was 42, I realized I didn’t want to be bouncing around on aerobics floors anymore so I decided to get certified as a yoga teacher. Vinyasa is the marriage of breath and movement. As you inhale, you put your arms up. As you exhale, you fold forward. Hatha is slower moving. You may hold a pose for a longer period of time to get deeper into the pose. It’s all really to calm your mind and body so that you can sit quietly to meditate or pray or appreciate the moment and acknowledge yourself.

Q: What do you love about yoga?

A: I love to move. It helps to take me out of my head and out of my body, calms me down and grounds me. One of the things I love most is that it doesn’t matter how many classes you take, you will always learn something new about yoga or yourself every time. You’re always growing and always learning.

Q: How are prenatal classes different from regular yoga classes?

A: Most of my prenatal students are first-time moms, so my classes are designed to help them be more comfortable during their pregnancy. I use poses that can prevent or alleviate back pain, can stretch and balance muscles, ligaments and bones, and I help moms get their babies into the right position before labor begins. Most importantly I teach them to focus on their breath. If they do, they’ll relax in the early part of their labor, get into a rhythm and tune in to other parts of their brain to find a balance between effort and ease.

Q: What’s the best advice you ever received?

A: It was to not take myself so seriously but to relax and enjoy. If I’m enjoying what I do, my students will also enjoy themselves.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

A: I have no filter. I have a problem not saying what I’m thinking.

Q: Describe your perfect San Diego weekend?

A: My ideal weekend includes a hike or something outside and a couple of drinks or a meal with friends. In the summer, I love swimming in the ocean when it’s above 70 degrees with my friends and my husband. I also love spending time with small groups of friends.

Q:What do you love about Vista?

A: I love the weather, the Moonlight Amphitheatre and that the hiking trails at Calavera Hills park are just five minutes away. And I love the small town, community feel of the city.