Why Pregnancy Yoga can benefit your Pregnancy, Labour and Birth.
The journey into mother hood can be a roller coaster. The constant state of change our bodies experience is accelerated during pregnancy. We are adjusting and compensating. Looking for ways to create more space and comfort. Pregnancy yoga is designed to support these changes in a safe, healthy and supportive environment.
From the moment we burst into the world we learn to breathe. Teaching someone how to breathe therefore seems a very random concept. However, the control and focus of our breath is not often utilised to its best potential. The practice of pranayama – controlled breath, is a huge part of yoga and becomes even more enhanced during pregnancy yoga. The significant and noticeable benefits of focussed and conscious breath can be invaluable during pregnancy.
Studies have shown that benefits of controlled and focus breath work occur in our parasympathetic – rest and digest state, in terms of mental capacity, mental state, better sleep, less depression and anxiety. The calm, focus and strengthening practice of pregnancy yoga has benefits beyond pregnancy and carries into motherhood. The mindful, physical and meditational approach to yoga can bring measurable relief to the often emotional journey of pregnancy. Further studies also show that our mental well being during pregnancy effect our growing baby and have long term effects on their mental and physical wellbeing.
When anxiety or fear set in our bodies naturally tense. Our bodies go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Tension in the body can sabotage ones efforts to reman present and connected during labour. This is when the breath work and focus on a calming practice are most beneficial. Using the techniques learnt from pregnancy yoga at this time are invaluable to a positive birth.
By stretching and toning the muscles we can help circulate blood flow throughout the body, along with deep breathing we can offer our muscles and baby extra oxygen, allowing us to get relief from many common discomforts such as lower back pain, nausea, headaches and insomnia. Yoga poses may also help optimise the baby’s position for birth, by allowing the pelvic bones and ligaments to open and move apart from each other. This allows the baby’s head to find more room to nestle at the bottom of the uterus as birth nears.
Understanding how our body is connected through fascia, we are able to use the physical practice to aid the toning of our body, focussing on the pelvic floor as a dynamic birth game changer. This connective muscle memory and repetitive practice of breath work invites a natural rhythm, strength and sense of calm thought the practice and activates when needed as active labour begins.
An important part of the practice is to encourage a deep, intimate connection between the mother and baby. Regular practice can provide women the opportunity to feel seen, heard, acknowledged and nourished. Labor is, ultimately, unpredictable, and the ability to stay focused and calm in the moment is something that yoga, through its deep breathing exercises and body-strengthening poses, can teach women to do almost automatically. Encouraged to listen to their instincts and feel what their body is comfortable with. This in itself can be hugely empowering. The reflective nature of practicing awareness and being mindful enables us to connect more deeply with our inner self and with our baby. We are able to trust our intuition and navigate our pregnancy and birth with more calm, ease and confidence.
The most important takeaway from my teaching is to honour where you are in that moment. Pregnancy yoga is about being present with your experience. However that experience comes about for you, finding a connection to empower a women to trust her own instincts by listening to her body. Not only empowering us as women but allowing us to realise the full potential and greatness of what our bodies can achieve.