The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

In this 24/7 have-it-all era, mums-to-be often carry extra stress that inhibits healthy childbirth.

We used to rise at dawn and work with our sisters, hunter-gatherer style, aligned with the natural rhythms of our bodies and the days, content just to subsist. Today we’re less attuned to instinct, intuition and our natural healing power. There’s no time even to be sick; grab some analgesia and “soldier on”.

As renowned yoga teacher Judith Lasater puts it, we’ve lost our “tribe”.

The mind-body-breath connection and wisdom teachings offered by yoga regain some ground by providing an interior prenatal journey.

“It’s so important during pregnancy to connect on a deeper level than just the physical in order to be involved, empowered and active throughout the process and birth,” says yoga therapist and mum, Kelly Davis, from Agama Yoga Centre.

“Everything you need to manage the process is already there. You just need to know how to tap into it.”

Pre Natal Postures

There are postures that are best avoided or practiced during the trimesters so a general group yoga class is not ideal. Prenatal teaching is a specialty that requires further training. Experienced teachers create a community of mums-to-be and a journey of self-exploration and empowerment that prepares you not just for birth, but motherhood.

Body Prep

Prenatal teachers understand that you need to develop arm strength for breast-feeding and carrying, thigh strength and pelvic floor control for birthing (and post natal recovery), and a strong back and pelvic stability for comfort during pregnancy. They can provide relief for back and joint ache and find space amid cramped organs.

How to Hunker Down

The practices of grounding and resilience to hunker down in the grit of labour are invaluable. These are explored through endurance postures, finding your thresholds and moving past them with the breath, mindfulness and visualisation. Other practices cultivate a deep, reassuring awareness of your steady ‘centre’ to allow you to surrender during the intensity of the birth experience. You’ll receive helpful tricks like relaxing the jaw to promote pelvic release.

Breathing

We’re all familiar with the huff-puff drama of television births. Yoga’s breath work is far more intimate, gentle and powerful, and is a game-changer for labour. Because the body understands the language of breath, it responds directly to it, giving you more control within. Breathing techniques are used throughout pregnancy to restore energy, release fear, and to cool the internal system which is in overdrive during creation.

Your breath is also your most intimate connection with your unborn child, its most comforting rhythm and messenger.

Subtle Tools

“Subtle tools like chant, reflection and meditation focus and calm the mind, building strength on a deeper layer, which in turn empowers and supports the process of change, encouraging acceptance and the ability to be a part of the birthing process with openness, strength and clarity,” says Kelly.

“Chant is one of yoga’s most powerful tools. It trains the breath to be long and smooth and is also used to communicate with your baby through specific tones and vibrations. By 20 weeks, your baby can hear you.”

Rite of Passage

Our individualistic society hardly prepares us for the life change from “me” to “we”.  The overwhelm of motherhood in these have-it-all times is no secret. Yoga’s wisdom teaches acceptance, self-compassion and mindfulness to release unhelpful expectations and beliefs that cause so much unnecessary guilt and grief. We move from delusions of perfection to acceptance of what is, and learn to work at our responses to life.

Because the yoga journey to childbirth is one of personal development, the support you find within a prenatal yoga group is likely to be very satisfying and real. Find your tribe and relish the support you deserve.