There is no way we can simply eliminate stress from our lives. But we can certainly change the way we react to it. Pregnant women usually seek out prenatal yoga classes to help them with physical ailments such as achy body, fatigue, nausea and leg cramps. Soon they realize, that while enjoying all of those benefits, yoga also helps pregnant women to become less reactive. By emphasizing breath and relaxation, we teach pregnant women to create their “yoga bubble” around them to shield them from the outside world. We can teach them to flow through their daily life without reacting to stressful situations or annoying comments from strangers and coworkers. (Yes, during pregnancy everyone feels to have the liberty to give you “friendly advice” and unsolicited comments about your body, belly size, even what type of birth you should choose). Being less reactive means brushing these situations off, and preventing stress hormones from rising in our body.
Just like our body protects our baby physically from the outside world (always the right temperature, no sharp edges, no loud sounds, everything is muffled and absorbed by the amniotic fluid), our mind needs to do the same mentally. Otherwise we are exposing our baby to the stress epidemic we see out there today. Mind and body are inseparably one, just like the pregnant mother and child create one unit. You are your unborn baby continuously share each others feelings and experiences, and our baby is mostly just the helpless recipient, who cannot protect themselves from stress or sadness.
Prenatal yoga is so wonderful because pregnant women are such natural yogis. Even if they have never done yoga before, they just get it. The elusive yogic goal of “being in the moment” or “being present” becomes so natural to pregnant women. They put their hands to their belly during meditation and immediately feel so deeply connected with their baby, experiencing the miraculous process of growing a little person inside, the ancient wisdom of the woman’s body, the miracle of life. Meditation becomes very deep and profound. The respect for our incredible body and for nature becomes very deep. Our pregnant body miraculously delivers just the right amount of nutrients with each bite of food we take, and just the right amount of oxygen with every breath we take. Nobody has to teach us how to be pregnant, our body does it automatically, as if it has done it many times before. We call that the ancient wisdom of the female body, and through yoga, we can learn to channel all the ancient midwifes, doulas, and all the women who were pregnant before us and who gave birth. It is a very powerful feeling.
Prenatal yoga is so much more then a series of modified poses. It is all of the above and more. With breath work and meditation, we prepare the pregnant mother for the progressing pregnancy, labor and birth. We teach her how to be present and connected with her baby. We teach her how to appreciate every moment in her pregnancy in a society that only has us looking forward and counting the weeks to our due date.
I am holding a four hour prenatal workshop on March 26th at Buddhi Yoga in La Jolla, CA. More details and to register here