My midwife says, “You can’t be expected to sit around and peel grapes during pregnancy anymore. You must move your body.” I couldn’t agree more!
There really hasn’t been much of a struggle to stay active during my pregnancy. I teach yoga three days a week and practice at least another three. I feel so lucky about that! I feel that the instant us ladies become pregnant there is a sudden moment of caution. Don’t lift anything heavy, be careful running, don’t strain yourself, or eat deli meats due to the possibility of ingesting listeria bacteria which can damage the fetus. The list of don’ts goes on and on.
But, what we aren’t really told is to listen to our bodies, that inner wisdom that is instilled inside of each of us, that guides us through life and helps us make important decisions. It’s the gut feeling that tells us how to be great.
Yoga has made that inner wisdom even more present, especially when I teach prenatal yoga. Pregnant women begin a transformative rite of passage that progresses us from the selfish me individual into a caregiving maternal role. For many of us this journey is so scary. How can it not be? We literally birth two new lives: the one that has been growing inside us for 40 weeks and the one that now unconditionally loves this little being. Following our inner wisdom throughout this process can allow the journey to be even more joyous. And yoga helps us tap in to this inner wisdom.
Yoga brings breath. You must breathe to live, and you must really breathe to give life. The birthing process is a series of deep muscle movements in the pelvic floor combined with breath work. Having a prenatal yoga (or regular yoga) practice helps get you connected to this type of breath strength.
Yoga brings endurance. Strong legs, glutes, and back are essential for giving birth. All that pushing comes from somewhere, right? A regular yoga practice helps build that endurance. The physical endurance of holding poses builds strength in the body and also in the mind.
Yoga brings stillness. Quieting the mind and gaining a meditative focus and awareness helps broaden our lens from a self-centered perspective to a holistic one. We gain greater compassion for ourselves and for each other.
Prenatal yoga classes cater to the unique requirements of the moms to be. Physically speaking, the poses really create opening in the body. Each trimester brings different concerns to the floor, but the benefits of practicing become apparent the more you get on the mat.
Hip openings are a gift during a prenatal class. Some hips become very tight, some hips are very open, depending on the trimester. Some hips are suffering from sciatic nerve pain, some become unstable from the hormone relaxin, that is meant to relax the muscles and ligaments around the hips. So, there is a unique balance of opening and stabilizing the hips during prenatal class.
Shoulders and chest muscles crave extra attention. As mommy-to-be starts growing, the front body gets heavy. The breasts are the first to grow and then the belly. This extra weight starts to tighten up the shoulder and chest muscles. We focus on opening up the shoulders and chest in a gentle way.
Our center of balance is off. And I mean way off!! Once we hit the second and third trimesters the center of gravity shifts and stumbling here and there becomes normal. A simple tree pose becomes more complex and sometimes frustrating. No worries! It’s all part of the journey!
Giving your body the OK to rest when you need it- yes, that’s yogic awareness! During the first trimester I remember saying to my husband, “This bed is like rufies,” and then falling asleep. You couldn’t pay me to stay up past 10pm and even at 20 weeks pregnant, I’m still getting at least 8-12 hrs of sleep per night. Again, reconnect to that inner wisdom and take rest when your body tells you. Now is the time to pay careful attention and to be very selfish (in a good way) so that we have the capacity to give completely when our little babe arrives.
Mommas, please, care for yourselves and I hope to see you on the mat!