What an amazing time, to be both carrying the miracle of life AND be discovering the amazingness that is the practice of yoga. I wanted to share with you some helpful ideas and insights to make your journey into pregnancy yoga happier, healthier and more empowering.
I’ll provide you with some general safety info, but more than that, I want to encourage you to learn the skill of listening within during this sacred time. There is no more powerful a force than a mother’s ability to follow her own gut and intuition. Pregnancy is the perfect time to begin harnessing these capabilities and yoga is the perfect practice to help you expand into all of these extraordinary parts of yourself.
Physical Safety & Your Body
Most things in pregnancy seem to revolve around the physical: doctors visits, baby’s growth, scans, eating well and how to stay safe while practicing yoga. The physical is, of course, important. We tend to understand ourselves first and foremost on the physical level because it’s the most tangible layer of the Self.
Your body is a treasure trove of information while you’re pregnant, and learning to pay close attention and listen within is one of the greatest skills you can cultivate.
Your body will tell you when it’s time to rest, time to move and time to eat. Your body will be a great sharer of wisdom and insight. Your job then is to learn to connect with the inherent wisdom of your physical form. Think about it: your body is clever enough to create and grow life! You don’t need to plan in your diary how to grow your baby, it just happens. It’s time to develop reverence for your body and to respect its wishes, wisdom and rhythms.
Learn to Slow Down
When you first begin to practice yoga, it can be challenging to really feel into your body, especially if you’ve been disconnected from it for some time. The best tip is to SLOW DOWN! You don’t need to be whipping through fancy poses or learning anything advanced while pregnant. Your top priority right now is developing a relationship with yourself and your growing child.
The easiest way to do this with your practice is to move mindfully, to really pace yourself and to truly inquire as to how the practice is making you feel. This is the key to staying safe while practicing yoga during pregnancy. There’s plenty of time post-pregnancy to become a fancy yogi. Right now, your top priority is experiencing your body and beginning to understand the nature of your mind.
Take it slow. Be mindful. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Heed what it has to say.
While you’re practicing, become a loving investigator of your physical form. Notice how different movements make you feel. Do some movements feel exceptionally yummy? Do other moves feel not so good? As you learn to bear witness to your body’s desires, you become the captain of your own vessel.
You develop the power to recognize what is right for you and what is not. This is not only helpful on the mat, but a superpower when it comes to navigating the info-saturated world of pregnancy and birth. Yoga is much more than staying active while pregnant. It is a practice that brings you into communion with the truest layers of who you are so that you can lead your life with integrity, kindness and strength.
The Nature of Your Mind
Your beliefs, your habitual thoughts, and thought patterns play an integral role in the shape of your life. This is magnified while pregnant as beliefs tend to become reality. Think about it: when you focus on the goodness of life, life usually delivers more sweetness. When your mind is caught up in a pessimistic sink-hole, life seems to follow.
Pregnancy is an extraordinary time to explore your beliefs and to understand the way your mind works. This will benefit you as your pregnancy unfolds, as you move into the world of birthing your baby and as you transition into life as a fierce and powerful mother.
Now is the time to begin a journey into your mind. This happens as you practice yoga, pairing breath with movement and developing the skill of witnessing the mind’s fluctuations.
Meditation and Mindfulness
I know, the idea of meditation can seem totally daunting, however, there is no richer time in life to dive into the practice than right now. Your meditation practice doesn’t need to be a big ordeal. It needs to be simple and consistent and can accompany your yoga practice or be something you do on its own.
There are all sorts of benefits to embracing meditation: stress-reduction, improved sleep, increased bonding between you and your unborn baby, just to name a few.
The greatest reason to meditate is to tap into the art of stillness, and within this stillness, begin to connect to your Higher Self.
We each have a Higher Self, a part of us that is divine and human and totally centered in love.
When you connect to this part of yourself, especially while pregnant, you begin to tap into a power that links you to a long lineage of powerful mothers. You develop more self-trust, can move through fears and anxieties with more ease and heal parts of yourself that need tender mending.
Your mindfulness practice can also take roots in other aspects of life. Begin noticing when you feel most positive and connected to yourself and your baby. Begin paying close attention to what sets off negative internal chatter.
Once you start to develop and strengthen the Witness aspect of Self, you can begin to step back and take a broader perspective on everyday situations. You can learn to react less, be more patient and ultimately, to develop more love for yourself, benefiting not only you but your sweet little growing babe.
It's All a Journey
Yoga, pregnancy, life — it’s all a journey. There’s no place to arrive at. Pregnancy can often feel like a big lead-up to birth. Changing this perspective and embracing pregnancy as its own journey will help you to enjoy the ever-evolving and shifting landscape that is growing and carrying life.
Yoga is the same way. It’s a way of life — a practice. It’s not something you need to master, but instead, something you dedicate yourself to as a way of becoming grounded, expansive, and more YOU! It’s one of the best tools to embrace at anytime if life, and happily for you and your baby, you’ve come to it while pregnant.
Your dedication to yoga will be the thing that determines how much you benefit from the practice. Dedication doesn’t need to be intimidating. Instead, view your commitment as a loving desire to better yourself, your baby, your family, your community and the world at large.
I know, that makes it seem kind of huge, but the truth is, yoga is a practice that transforms us and everything we touch. You might have thought you were just coming for a stretch, but if you invite yoga in, it will do much more for you than lengthen your hamstrings!
As you venture through your pregnancy, invite your yoga practice to be the companion that helps you to better understand who you are. Continue on with your practice after birth. Let it become a foundational part of your life; a commitment that elevates your relationship to yourself and your relationship with your growing family.