“When a mother is pregnant, the kind of soul she can accept depends on her mental attitude. And then there is another beauty that within the realm of your belly, which is your pregnancy, you can totally transform the soul. The soul is pure and has nothing to do, but the subtle body carries the karma of the previous life. A mother can totally purify the subtle body of the new child.” ~Yogi Bhajan, Women’s Camp 1976
The journey of pregnancy and giving birth can be one of the most empowering experiences of a woman’s life. It is an experience of transformation that requires more strength than we know as our bodies change from something we recognize and hopefully are comfortable with into something completely new as we house a little being who is entirely dependent on the way we nurture ourselves for 9 months to ensure their survival. Everything we eat, say, and do affects our pregnancy and the development of our sweet bundle. Practicing yoga is one way a mother can feel stronger and more confident in her body during pregnancy and labor.
I first discovered yoga when I was pregnant with my lovely daughter, Sadie Faye, over 22 years ago. I was a 21 year old wannabe hippie girl living in the Santa Cruz mountains who found a book full of hippies from the 70’s sharing their stories of natural child birth. I had decided I too would have my baby, ala natural. And guess what! I did! One of the gifts they shared was yoga. I followed the pictures and did some yoga whenever I felt uncomfortable which toward the end of the pregnancy was often. I also practiced breathing techniques these wise hippie women shared. When it came time for my little lady to arrive I was so glad I had practiced yoga. I felt like I had some wisdom within me during this final stage.
The most valuable things I learned were to take it slow, to breath long and deep and to move around. I hung out in cat and cow tilt for awhile. I hung out in a squat for a long time in the shower with my socks on (the nurse asked if I wanted them off before I got into the shower and I said no because my feet were cold…haha) where I rapidly dilated and was ready to push.
During the half hour it took to push little Sadie into this world I was calm and relaxed; almost falling asleep between contractions. I didn’t want my lady part to tear so I took my time and was given a perineal massage with almond oil by my midwife. It was definitely no trip to the day spa but I was relaxed as a girl could be without drugs while pushing a 7 lbs. human out of my tiny body. Any sound I made was low and long. My breathing was deep and calm. My mantra was: “Remember how ancient we are.” I was surrounded by a loving group of women. I felt safe, strong and confident. I was owning my body like I had never done before. I knew what I was doing even though I had never done it before.. I was in control. It took 7 hours to bring Sadie into this world without drugs and without my body tearing. I was wide awake when she was given to me. Taking in her features, checking her limbs, counting her fingers and toes, staring into her slate colored eyes that looked back with recognition. From the moment I saw her I felt like I already knew her because I did only now she was outside of me.
Finding that hippie book and discovering yoga were a blessing for me. Of course I was 21 so I had youth on my side but I now have over 20 years of yoga experience with me and I plan on living as long as the people in the book of Genesis so if my eggs are still good, have a solid partner in my life and move to a different planet I might do it again in a hundred years. I know my body a lot better than I did at 21 and think I could beat my previous labor time by at least 1 hour. LOL
Some of the benefits of prenatal yoga according to the Mayo Clinic and hippie chicks:
Improve sleep. Reduces stress and anxiety. Increases the strength, flexibility and endurance of muscles needed during childbirth. Decreases lower back pain, nausea, carpal tunnel symptoms, headaches and shortness of breath.
So if you have a wee one growing within give yoga a try, listen to some wise women around you and own your body. Make the story of your babies birth one that empowers you and others. Good luck. It’s gonna hurt like a mother f—– but your powerful body will release the love-drug oxytocin while your stare into the eyes of a little being waiting for your love.