Prenatal Yoga | Empowerment & Presence for Pregnancy, Birth, and Beyond
Here my top 5 ways my yoga practice influenced my children’s entrance into the world.
1. Breath - throughout labor & giving birth, I was able to regulate my breathing in a meaningful way (ujjayi). In yoga, that moment you want to come out of a pose is when true yoga begins. While giving birth, there are so many moments of resistance, so many moments when you want to stop, but you must stay in it and you must stay present. There's no better way than to Breathe into the resistance; learn to find ease in moments of struggle. A regular meditation practice helps cultivate this skill.
2. Meditation - this is the practice of being truly present. Learning to slow down and take notice. Notice the sounds, the smells, the light around you, and check in to the self. Babies and mamas (and papas) need mindfulness in such an intense and life changing moment. Meditation allows us to recognize our emotions and thoughts in order to better respond, rather than react. I even use this practice when nursing, and even now as my little girl sings to herself while she colors. I use it when I am hating my commute to take in the color of the sky, the smell of rain on hot cement... It's a way to remind ourselves that 'You may have more time, but you'll never have this moment again.'
3. Asana - giving birth is a marathon whether you give birth for 18 hours or 20 minutes. It is the most intense feat you could undertake and it REQUIRES endurance. Yoga is a practice of balance between strength and ease -- sthira sukha. Holding postures then releasing mirrors contractions (about 1 minute long) and the time in between contractions (about 5 minutes). When to power up and when to rest is vital in both yoga and birth (and life).
4. Inquiry - part of a Baptiste yoga practice is self inquiry. Asking self excavating questions that allow for reflection and understanding of who you are. Becoming a parent does a number on your ego and identity. It’s humbling and empowering. It is fearful and courageous. It is isolating and yet you're not alone. We must take time for ourselves both during pregnancy and after giving birth. Try to understand your feelings on your own terms in order to be more present in the here and now. To find compassion for and nurture the SELF (not just your little one).
5. Focus (dristhi) -. when I was giving birth, my main point of focus was the date (River's birthday) written on a white board directly across from me. This intense gaze reminds me most of finding dristhi in Eagle pose, a balancing posture. During contractions, when pushing, and in those early months with new baby - you must have focus and find steadiness and equanimity. Put your eyes on what you want to have happen and be for it!
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