Breath Practice during Pregnancy and Beyond
Breath practices are an essential aspect of the yoga practice and are particularly helpful for a woman throughout the birth process. They help her remain calm and focused during pregnancy as well as birth. Postnatally, intentional and conscious breathing restores balance and promotes healing and sleep.
It’s now commonly understood the connection between the mind and the breath. For example, if someone is scared or anxious, her breath is likely to be short and shallow. Learning to manipulate or control the breath can dramatically calm a chattering and anxious mind. Using the breath as a focal point is an effective way to steady the mind.
Create Space in the Body, Create Space in the Mind
Breath techniques literally create space on a physical level. During pregnancy, this is particularly welcome. With a growing baby pressing up against a mamma’s diaphragm, her main breathing mechanism located below the breath bone, it can be challenging for her to take a full and complete breath. Breath work can help a mamma breathe with greater ease. Ultimately, creating space in the body creates space in the mind. Thus, breath practices help a mother stay present.
Tune In to Tune Out
Breath practices also help a woman tune into her inner wisdom. In Light on Pranayama, Mr. Iyengar shares, “Disciplined breathing helps the mind concentrate and enables the ‘practitioner’ to attain robust health and longevity.” He encourages, “Pranayama is the bridge between the body and the Self.”
Best Practice During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, Womb Breathing is an extraordinarily helpful practice. By directing the breath to her sacred womb center, a mamma builds vitality for herself and her child. She supports the development of her child while also supporting her own health. Also, she learns to steady her mind, thereby alleviating fear and anxiety. With frequent practice, a woman essentially builds energy that she can draw on for later use whether during labor or the postnatal period. By practicing Womb Breathing regularly and consistently (i.e. daily) throughout pregnancy, it can emerge spontaneously during labor, helping to support a calm and conscious (and possibly unmedicated) birth.
Best Practice Postnatally
During the early postnatal period, the practice of Belly Breathing supports healing and can restore hormonal balance. As with Womb Breathing, a mamma directs her breath to the abdominal region, now focusing on creating space on in the inhale and releasing tension and tightness on the exhalation. Even a few cycles of Belly Breathing can be highly restorative for a new mom functioning on limited sleep. When a mamma can regulate her breath, it calms and soothes herself as well as her child.
There are numerous additional practices that are super supportive for mothers. These include : alternate nostril breathing, sitali and bharami.
This Mother’s Day, give yourself the gift of pranayama. Take time every day to cultivate intimacy with your breath, and notice how you’ll then easily harness your power as a birthing goddess and a beautiful mamma. Need to guidance? Book a complimentary consultation. Let’s discuss how you can get started.