Yoga has been proven to be very beneficial to women during pregnancy, labour and beyond, creating a feeling of well-being and confidence in body and mind.
As you would train for a marathon or any other physically challenging event, so a woman needs to prepare for her labour. She must be powerful and strong, inside and out. These days many GPs and maternity units recommend it.
In 2011 I completed a teacher training course at triyoga in London with Nadia Narain, who is commonly acknowledged as being one of the foremost pregnancy yoga practitioners in the country. Since then I have taught numerous women at all stages of pregnancy, both in weekly classes and private individual sessions.
Pregnancy yoga is more gentle and focuses on postures and breathing practices that really help get ready for childbirth. It helps to strengthen, tone and create flexibility and openness in the body to make more space for the growing baby.
Movements such as hip openers strengthen the pelvic joints and their diameters to encourage the baby to move into a “head down” position. Pelvic exercises increase awareness and control of those all-important pelvic floor muscles and squatting positions take the pressure off spinal discs, which can help ease back pain as well as strengthen the legs and other muscles involved in the birth process.
Learning to breathe deeply and with control in your yoga practice can help to relax you during pregnancy and labour. By using long, deep breathing techniques we can learn to push our bodies to places we didn’t know possible. Using your breath can help to focus you on your birthing muscles and to centre yourself. Centering enables you to access infinite reserves of power to renew your inner strength and recharge yourself emotionally. Your baby will benefit from this longer, deeper breathing technique because you will feel relaxed and therefore your baby will be more relaxed.
Pregnancy yoga can teach expectant mothers to trust her body and learn to let go of her fears and guide her towards a happy and healthy pregnancy and labour. When a woman learns to slow down her mind and tune into her body she is better equipped to make the right decisions during childbirth.
What I try and convey to my pregnant women:
- To strengthen her body
- To soften her body
- To be confident in her own body
- To become more sensitive to her body, mind and heart
- To make clear and educated decisions
- To trust her body
- To be in control of letting go
- To look forward to giving birth
- To understand it’s not about natural birthing, it’s about conscious birthing