Yoga is a system of techniques for balancing the body, mind and spirit through relaxation, exercises, postures, breathing and meditation. As well as these four basic areas, Integral Yoga also addresses lifestyle issues such as diet, home and work environments, and relationships.
Yoga also teaches the importance of awareness and self understanding through developing sensitivity to the subtle forces within ourselves and the world. This can help to bring out a new strength and calm – which will definitely be needed as you face the many challenges of motherhood! It doesn’t matter what stage of pregnancy or level of fitness you are at, every woman can gain from the simple yoga techniques.
Getting in touch with your baby (through relaxation, visualisation and meditation) as early in the pregnancy as possible helps to develop a closeness for life. These techniques can also help to resolve past traumas which block many women’s ability to conceive and labour easily. Labour complications can be greatly reduced by increasing your flexibility, strength and stamina, combined with an ability to relax during the roller coaster experience of birth. Pregnancy yoga is so beneficial for expectant mothers!
Yoga is also very beneficial to help break habits which are harmful to our babies such as bad diet, smoking, insomnia and the effects of everyday stress.
Energy Balance During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are always complaining about having their energy messed with by the baby! Sure, but what about the poor baby having its energy messed with by you! Energy always cuts both ways. I can’t help thinking of this poor sensitive little bundle of cells, clinging on for his dear life to the inside your uterus whilst you: indelicately climb off the bed every morning after a rotten night’s sleep, make breakfast, vomit it up, climb into the car, drop the kids at the bus and hubby at the station, play a game of tennis with some friends, scoff down a few cream buns with a coffee for morning tea, vomit it up, climb into the car, drive home, wash the dog, carry the washing out and hang it up on the line, make a quick sandwich for lunch, vomit it up, climb into the car, go out to a school meeting, pick up the kids, push the trolley round and round the supermarket aisles and then out to the carpark, climb into the car, go home, go for a bike ride with the kids, make dinner, vomit it up, put on another load of washing, read a few bed time stories, vacuum the house, have a quick cold shower because all the hot water’s run out, fold up the washing, remake the bed, make a cup of tea, climb onto the bed with nice book, phone rings, climb into the car, pick up hubby from station because there’s no taxis, come home again, climb onto the bed, try to drink the cold tea, vomit it up, lie down, try to sleep. What a life for the little bugger. No wonder he can’t sleep at night!
Wouldn’t the best idea be some sort of partnership. “You let me sleep for 8 hours and then I’ll take for a walk for an hour – deal? But even better still would be a natural harmony – an unspoken in-tune-ness where there is no clash. How could such a utopian ideal ever be brought about?
Well, first you’ve got to give some serious thought as to whose needs are the greatest at any particular time. I know, you thought I was going to say that you are the boss and the baby follows your lead. But no such luck. Sure, its not a matter of everything going the baby’s way, you have a life to lead after all, but surely a certain amount of lifestyle compromise from his point of view would be nice.
Looking after yourself is equally as important as looking after your baby – you are a team, a partnership, a symbiotic organism of shared energy. In different trimesters you will need different areas of energy management and so will the baby.
Since the physicality of pregnancy is focused mainly in the lower body, with a bunch of side effects in a few other places, I think this is why so many women do not understand the importance for an expecting mother to have a balance in her life regarding all areas of her energy. Ideally, one needs to balance both the inputs and outputs of energy in all of the areas of yourself as the pregnancy progresses.
Think about all the different ways we commonly describe our energy. High energy, low energy, scattered energy, focussed energy, a loving energy, a sexual energy, an angry energy, nervous energy, a stable energy, a peaceful energy, a mental energy, a physical energy, an emotional energy, psychic energy, a cruising energy, a manic energy, an intense energy, a weak energy a strong energy, a happy energy, depressed energy, a crazy energy. Sounds like the average pregnant woman’s weekly diary!
All those terms are simply the manifestations of our body, our moods, or our minds at any particular moment. Please don’t just think that it’s “just the hormones”, “par for the course” and that there’s nothing you can do about that. If you want to change the quantity or nature your own energy any at any particular time then, hey presto, there’s a way. According to yoga, each of those expressions of energy is related to one of the chakras and its corresponding pranic system and its interconnections with your body, emotions and thoughts.
Through practise you can learn to have immediate control of your energy or you can effect a gradual change in your constitutional and habitual energy patterns. You can also affect the way your baby’s energy is working and you can effectively programme a lot of how your baby’s energy system if formed in-utero. We can learn to managing all forms of energy through yoga postures, breathing, relaxation and meditation. These are the tools I teach in every pre-natal yoga class.