How the Path of Pregnancy Echoes the 8 Limbs of Yoga-Part 4

The final petals of yoga include sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation and bliss. Astonishingly, these states of consciousness perfectly epitomize the final stages of labor.  


Sense Withdrawal 

Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, encourages introspection.  By practicing pratyahara during pregnancy, a woman learns to tune out external distractions to more easily identify her fears and attune to her needs while clarifying her core values.  While well intentioned, many have and freely share strong opinions and advice for a pregnant woman. This can be distracting. A woman needs to recognize and trust her intuition. Yoga supports this.  

Practicing pratyahara helps a woman identify her unconscious impulses or patterns, samskaras, in order to release them. These impulses can undermine her confidence and ability to birth and parent with ease and grace. By cultivating awareness, a woman moves with awareness and makes mindful, conscious choices. 

By pausing regularly throughout the day, a woman, whose body and life are radically  transforming moment-by-moment, can ground and center. Pratyahara fosters stability. Prayahara is an invitation to pause often, quiet, draw inward and return to the rhythm of the breath to assess thoughts, feelings and needs. She thus lives and moves authentically during a period of change.

In addition, pregnancy fatigue can be viewed as an invitation to rest, get quiet and explore introspection. It's essential for a woman to restore, renew and heal, for the sake of her health and the health of her child. This prepares a woman physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for labor.  Ultimately,  pratayahara is an essential tool for  self-care and parenting. The inward journey helps a woman manage external factors and conditions more effectively.  By cultivating equanimity, she learns to trust nature and herself.  


Concentration and Focus  

Dharana, concentration, results from cultivating mindfulness and awareness. When a woman  explores her body, mind and spirit with focused curiosity and compassion during pregnancy, she can confidently surrender to nature and the demands of labor and motherhood.  Yoga helps a woman train her mind and calm her brain. This benefits her nervous system and the development of her child.

Moving Into a Meditative State

With steady practice and loving intention, she then moves towards a state of meditation, dhyana.  A woman can let go of the need to control and surrender to the process, from the changes throughout pregnancy to the intensity of labor to the joys of motherhood. In this way, she can experience serenity and contentment. Yoga cultivates deep trust. This inner knowing is a form of samadhi, super consciousness, the final limb of yoga. 

The journey of yoga proffers an ideal template for the journey of motherhood. Interested in exploring the benefits of yoga? Join me for prenatal yoga and Urban Zen for Motherhood at Yogaworks Eastside in NYC.