Yoga for Birthing Blog Post -
This is the second in a two part blog series about how yoga can be infused into the birthing space. In this particular post I delve into the effective use of sound in birthing and lastly, but definately not least, the importance of breath awareness. As a non-medicated asthmatic (I have pretty much not needed medication since beginning the practice of yoga) and person who has suffered anxiety to different degrees throughout my life, the most amazing gift yoga has given me is breath awareness and training. If nothing else, training your breathing through pregnancy will be one of the best tools you can take into your birthing space!
These posts are of course a reflection, and a selection of things that I have either noted from yogini mummies sharing their birth stories or from my own two birthing experiences. Feel free to share on with other mummies 2 be that you think might find use and guidance from these words.
Chanting and the effective use of sound -
The practice of chanting and certain pranayama practices such as Bramarhi (Humming Bee) breath can also be amazing assets in the birthing space. When I teach chanting in prenatal class, I keep it very simple, generally we work around the universal sound of Om, broken down into 3 components Ahhh, Ouuu and Mmmm. I encourage ladies to get used to making a bit of noise, but most importantly effective noise. If we pare it back to simple logics, high pitched noise in any circumstances does not induce a calm state of mind. When the urge to make noise during birthing occurs the most effective thing to do is to guide the noise down to a deeper more guttural sound. The first stage of birth works with Apana Vayu, the downward movement of energy, so it makes sense that we need to bring our sound down to assist in moving a baby down and out. If the sound becomes high the energy moves up into the head and can be anxiety inducing. Remember to keep the breath flowing while using sound, breath is movement and birth requires movement. Bramarhi or Humming Bee Breath can also be extremely effective in labour. It works on sound vibration within skull and brain helping to release tension and stimulate the parasympatetic nervous system (rest and digest). When used through surges it not only assists in calming the mind but also keeps the exhale long, smooth and steady.
Learning Constructive and Steady Breathing -
Breath is so deeply reflective and relative to our state of mind and nervous system that awareness and training it through pregnancy can be one of our greatest assets.When the breath is rhythmic, slow and steady the mind will remain the same, the nervous system will stay settled and continue to allow the body to do it’s important job of birthing a baby. When we loose focus on breath and it starts to become erratic, sharp and short, the mind will again follow suit kicking in the fight or flight response in the nervous system causing an adrenaline dump too early in labour assuming we need to run away from a threat, which would be very useful if the perceived threat was a lion and not the action of birthing a baby. Adrenaline is needed in the process of birthing babies, but not until transition when mothers move from the first to second (pushing) stage of labour and need to get bub out. Ujay Breath is an effective pranayam that can be used to help keep the mind and body calm while moving through surges in the first stage of labour. It is particularly effective when practiced on an exhale through surges, helping to lengthen and steady the breath. As the labour progress to the pushing stage (which should be involuntary) we need to keep working on that smooth and steady breath, the breath can be visualised to be moving right down and out the birth canal (vagina).
Until it is complete, there is no way of know what journey our birth will take us one. Every single birth has its own complete and unique story. The best that we can do is to take the time that is given to us during our pregnancy and use it effectively in preparing our body, mind and soul for that which lies ahead. I hope these reflections and taste can help those about to embark on this journey, or at least awaken a curtiosity which will call you to look deeper into some of the ideas presented.
with love and gratitude