When we think of prenatal yoga most initial thoughts and imagery go straight to the physical, that is, the physical or asana practice. Mums-to-be start the hunt for a suitable form of pregnancy exercise that will keep them moving, strong and help to alleviate some of the common discomforts that can be associated with pregnancy. Yes, prenatal yoga definitely offers all of the above (if practices with support, care and good guidance), but it can also offer so much more:
A group of women all experiencing this life changing event at the same time. A group of women who really understand what your moving through and are also ‘feeling ALL the feels’. Generally the mums-to-be coming to class will all be at different stages of their pregnancy, some experiencing their first pregnancy while others on their fourth. There can be the opportunity for shared knowledge and experience as well the chance to build genuine friendships as you navigate this time together.
Of all the feedback I receive from students after birth, breath practice and breath awareness is by far the most positive. The likelihood you will be practicing a series of specific asana through labour is low (although certainly not impossible), however having a good breath foundation can be a phenomenal tool to utilise while birthing. Your breath is also something that you can’t leave behind or forget to pack if you are birthing in hospital or a birth centre. I often tell women that they might accidentally leave their stress balls at home but you bring your breath with you everywhere.
Dharana - One Pointed Focus
When you practice prenatal yoga you are training dharana, that is, the ability to look within, strip away external stimuli to find focus and flow. In class I encourage students to move with and follow their breath, using it as an anchor that they can continually come back to. This ability to concentrate on one thing (the task at hand) trains our minds and creates neural pathways which can be accessed during labour. A womens ability to move out of her problem solving/thinking mind and into her more primal brain can be fundamental to a successful natural birth. There is always the chance that she will be required to come back to her ‘thinking brain’ while birthing, but if she has been regularly practicing dharana she will have greater success and ease in drawing herself back into her birthing mind space.
Pregnancy and birth can be hard work, but just because something is challenging doesn’t mean that it has to be a negative and unrewarding experience. Taking time to “check out and check in” provides space and opportunity for positivity during your pregnancy. During class, time is given to settle in and see where you are at on any given day; positive association is created through movement, breath, sound and stillness. For mothers in subsequent pregnancies this time can be particularly important in providing the chance to connect and bond with this baby, when life at home is busy caring for older children
All in all, attending a prenatal yoga class can be an amazingly wholistic experience where you, your baby and your relationships with other can truly blossom and grow.
With Love and Light
Yoga Teacher, specialising in Prenatal Yoga and Postnatal Yoga