Congratulations on your pregnancy and for making a commitment to yourself, your health, and your baby by practicing yoga during pregnancy and motherhood. There are many benefits to a consistent yoga practice during pregnancy. Rather than just taking my word on this though experience and embody these benefits within yourself. Roll out your mat and devote 5, 10, or 20 minutes a day or every other day to your practice. Yoga is meant to be a living practice not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. I guarantee you with some dedication you will experience first hand the beauty and grace yoga has to offer us.
1.) Relaxation Skills: through physical movement, breath, meditation, and mindfulness practices you will expand your capacity to slow down, breathe, and bring more awareness to the present moment. With increased demands on women and families, pregnancy often becomes an experience of “doing” more (prenatal visits, gift registry’s, preparing a nursery, classes, etc.). Prenatal yoga however beautifully invites you to practice “being” in addition to the demands of life. “Being” includes practicing softening, receiving, and allowing yourself to go within and notice sensation, emotion, and breath. It’s definitely a practice though and prenatal yoga provides a much needed invitation to slow down and receive.
2.) Self and Body Awareness: During pregnancy you are much more connected to your intuition (higher self, inner voice, greater pulsation of energy) than other stages of life. Your intuition will guide you in making the many decisions inherent in pregnancy and motherhood. Your intuition will guide you in how to care for your body physically. Your intuition will guide you in deciding where to receive your prenatal care and deliver your baby. Your intuition will guide you in navigating shifts and refinements that naturally occur in relationships both during pregnancy and post baby. Your intuition will certainly guide you with navigating any complications that might arise during your pregnancy. And it will guide you in setting up your prenatal and postpartum support system. The practice of yoga will serve to strengthen your connection with your inner voice. To begin to hear the whispers of your intuition. To trust your gut feelings and honor a greater knowing that is often awakened during pregnancy.
Physically there are many shifts that occur in the body both during pregnancy and postpartum. Through the practice of yoga we bring awareness to common movement patterns that profoundly influence how your pregnancy unfolds. How are you sitting? How are you standing and walking? How about getting in and out of bed, showering, holding your toddler, etc.? The practice of prenatal yoga will naturally bring more awareness to these everyday movement patterns and slowly make shifts to bring your body more into alignment.
3.) Deeper Fuller Breath: the further along you get in pregnancy, the harder it is to take a deep, full breath. Your diaphragm will often become more constricted and there is just less room for your lungs to expand fully. That combined with common patterns of chest breathing versus deep diaphragmatic breathing contribute to a shortness of breath. Through the practice of prenatal yoga you will learn how to sit or stand in alignment to support your body’s natural breathing patterns and the synergistic relationships between your diaphragm and pelvic floor. Once students practice and embody alignment in sitting and standing postures, more advanced breathing exercises can be incorporated to invoke different states within the body.
4.) Present Moment Awareness: lets be honest! How much of life are we living in autopilot mode? How often do we go through the rhythms of life, but not really being fully present with any of it? How often do we pause and connect with ourselves or fully see others around us? How often do we fully connect with this beautiful soul growing within us? Inherent within the practice of yoga is present moment awareness. Awareness of both your inhalations and your exhalations. Awareness of the pause at the top of your inhalation and at the bottom of your exhalation. Awareness of this moment as your entire life has led you to the here and now.
5.) Empowerment: it is our birthright as women to be beautiful. To be powerful. To be pure grace and abundance. But often like the layers of an onion we lose sight of our own inner strength. We lose sight of the bounty that lies within. Yoga becomes a practice of slowly peeling back those layers to tap into the sweetness that has always and will always be there. Yoga becomes the invitation to connect with not only your physical strength but also a mental, emotional, and spiritual strength that is just waiting to unfold within you.
6.) Community: motherhood was never intended to be done in isolation. It is within our collective being to be surrounded by women (mothers, grandmothers, sisters, doulas, etc.) during pregnancy and other divine rites of passage. But so often women find themselves working long hours, tending to the home, dealing with external affairs and struggling to develop the supportive community she needs. Through open dialog and group discussions (with seated supportive movements weaved into these discussions) women are able to share and support one another on their individual and yet collective journeys of motehrhood. They are able to share from an open heart and feel heard and seen and then hold this space for others. It is powerful medicine to know you are not alone, you are held, you are seen, you are supported and loved just as you are.
Welcome to prenatal yoga!!! May you continue to reap all the benefits of yoga during this sacred journey of pregnancy, labor/delivery, and your postpartum journey.
Sara is the lead yoga instructor at the mama’hood. She leads several weekly yoga classes in addition to our prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher trainings, our mother daughter yoga and date nights, and our birth story healing circles. To learn more about Sara and her offerings visit www.begraceyoga.com or email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.