How the Path of Pregnancy Echoes the 8 Limbs of Yoga-Part 2
The previous post introduced how astonishingly the eight limbs of yoga reflect a woman's journey through pregnancy. The eight limbs include:
- yama: restraints
- niyama: observances
- asana: posture or pose
- pranayama: breathwork
- pratyahara: sense withdrawal
- dharana: concentration
- dhyana: meditation
- samadhi: serenity; perfection; supreme devotion; profound meditation.
Once pregnant, a woman often makes healthy lifestyle changes; she essentially adopts and adapts the yamas and niyamas to benefit her child and herself. For example, she may begin eating a more balanced diet and getting more sleep.
Asana: Shapes, postures or poses
The third limb of yoga, asana, may be the most familiar to us.
Your Beautiful, Powerful Pelvis
Asana, physical postures, supports optimal health. Loosely translated from Sanskrit, asana means “seat.” The seat, or pelvis, is the center of the physical body and is the central focus of asana during pregnancy. In my classes, a pregnant mamma is encouraged to tune in to, get friendly with and learn to love her “beautiful, powerful pelvis”; after all, it's Baby’s home throughout the pregnancy. As a woman cultivates awareness and self-love, Baby senses this love and compassion through energetic resonance. This may be an untapped resource that begins to reveal itself.
The Benefits of Pregnancy Yoga
As a woman’s body undergoes vast physiological changes throughout pregnancy, asana brings relief to physical discomforts and promotes well-being by reducing stress and anxiety. The poses are like magic and help a woman cultivate strength and flexibility as well as stability and openness. For example, by aiding circulation and creating space in the body, a woman may find she can breathe easier and sleep better. This becomes increasingly important especially as the pregnancy progresses and Baby’s weight increases. Asana also supports physical and mental childbirth preparation. Cultivating physical strength helps cultivate mental stamina. A woman learns how to remain focused and calm. Moreover, regular and consistent asana practice establishes healthy muscle memory. A woman therefore can skillfully and without thinking, recall helpful techniques spontaneously during labor and birth. Supported postures also help a woman restore and rejuvenate; by stimulating the relaxation response, both before and after birth, they help the nervous system heal and balance. With heightened body/mind awareness, a woman begins to calmly recognize her true needs without distraction and can act from a powerful and authentic place of centeredness and balance. This is key during pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
Target these Areas
- Neck and Shoulder Tightness and Strain
- Lower Back
- Upper Back
- Abdominal Toning
- Pelvic Floor Awareness
- Strengthening- Physical and Mental Stamina
- Circulation - Relieves Swelling and Cramping
- Improved Digestion
- Reduced Anxiety
- Improved Sleep
- Easeful Breathing
Feel Well and Confident
The practice of asana benefits a woman physically, mentally and emotionally as she prepares her body, mind and soul for the challenges of labor, birth and motherhood. Many obstetricians tell me that women who practice yoga during pregnancy are remarkably calm and confident during labor and birth. They report that often, the third stage of labor, pushing, is shorter and easier for these mammas.
Finally, after Baby is born, the restorative postures provide a necessary respite for a new mother whose hormones are in flux and who may feel overwhelmed with lifestyle changes and the care of her newborn. Restorative postures also help a new mom relieve neck and shoulder strain while relieving exhaustion. A regular and consistent practice of asana helps a woman feel well and confident. Learning how to adopt and adapt a yoga practice to meet your changing needs will make a positive impact on the birth of your family.