Pregnancy and Yoga by Amanda Ramcharitar, http://www.cittashanti.com, twitter cittashanti
I just wanted to write a short post on my experience of my first pregnancy and being a Yoga teacher. I researched extensively other Yoga for women and came to find that in the experience of pregnancy there is a huge variety of opinions on the subject. I thus set out too just experience my pregnancy and use my discretion and intuition to guide my practice. I always had the Iyengar Book for Expectant Mothers on hand. It was a great reference for pregnancy with indepth postures, breathing, props, even food idea’s for all the semesters and post pregnancy. I did not follow the book to a T as i mentioned i also wanted to experience my pregnancy and see what limitations i would have and what my body was telling me when.
I found that with breath, my practice stayed light! My pregnancy stayed light! If i missed a day of practice, i felt the heaviness. For the most part my hormones and emotions seemed very balanced throughout the the pregnancy. I eliminated forward bends and lower spinal twists from the get go. All forward bends i practiced as an extension, and twists I maintained in the upper body. Standing postures were a boon, keeping the legs strong and supportive for the spine. I loved my inversions, i kept up handstands until the last day and surprisingly i found my pelvis extremely stable. With my inversions i was careful to step into them, and step down, no heavy landings, always landing lightly. Jumping i believe can be done with extreme lightness. It is said Mula Bandha is very good to practice during pregnancy, Uddiyana Bandha however should be let go. This is what I practiced. I truly embraced the femininity of the Yoga practice, looser, wider, spiraling movements with the hips was beautiful especially in labour. If i were to change anything, i would definitely emphasize creating space even more than i did. As well as practice even more the art of letting go, really letting go, I recognize this especially in labour, sigh alot, ahhhhh alot, exhale alot, this will get one through. In one of the pregnancy movies, Birth Into Being, the say a women ceases being a woman when in labour and becomes a force of nature… Letting this force move through you without blocking it is the key. My pregnancy was a breeze, I taught Yoga up until 2 weeks before I delivered. The labour however was not a breeze, more like gale force winds! It was very lengthy due to the baby turning head to pubic bone in the last week. However even with this difficulty the Yoga practice was my guiding force with allowing me to stay close to the breath, not attaching to the pain, and using my training in observation. My midwives celebrated my strength as it was a homebirth. I later read only 1 in 500 labours are like this and usually end up as a caesarean. So maybe my story was a testament that with patience and breath a labour like this is possible even without drugs for the pain.
I truly believe pregnancy is an amazing physical experience that allows a woman to come into their own strength, no matter what one must experience, whether caesarean, or natural labour. Childbirth is a right of passage. I commend all mothers for the sacrifice of their bodies to bring all of us onto this earth. I would highly recommend it to any one not yet a mom, it took me 39 years to get to it and i’m so happy I did. Now I face the even tougher, learning to be a mom… and thank the Divine even more for the sanctuary of Yoga…