I had been practicing yoga for about a year and a half when I found out I was
pregnant. As a first-time mommy, I knew that I wanted to continue in my yoga
practice, figuring it would actually help alleviate some of the discomforts of
pregnancy and enhance my overall experience of it. And it did just that! Moreover,
by practicing yoga until the end of my 8th month, I was able to be more confident
in my decision to do a natural water birth without the use of any pain-relief
medication, as I knew many of the techniques and philosophy of yoga would aid
in my labor and delivery.
As someone who has always had a natural propensity for being in-tune with my
body, by practicing yoga throughout my pregnancy I was able to intensify that
body awareness as my body was changing. It helped significantly with my balance
and more importantly it gave me that time of inner quietness and peace that I
knew was so good for the development of my growing baby (A stressed out mommy
can only lead to a "stressed out" fetus!). Practicing yoga throughout
my pregnancy also taught me how to better trust the amazing abilities of my body,
knowing that with deep breathing and the quieting of the mind, my body could
have strength and stability I didn't know was there. But don't get me wrong,
I never did any poses that didn't feel right or were too extreme. I LISTENED
TO MY BODY! I trusted that it would let me know what poses would and would not
be fine as my belly grew, and I modified the poses as was needed.
As for the labor and delivery, yoga equipped me with the ability to not only
breathe deeply, but send that calming, yet energizing breath to wherever my body
needed it. And for someone who went through 19 1/2 hours of hard, active labor
naturally, this couldn't have been more helpful!! Yoga taught my body how to
relax the muscles I did not need to be using and energize the ones that needed
to work, or in the case of labor and delivery, open the muscles that needed to
be opened. I just translated what yoga had taught me about body control to the
experience of labor and delivery.
I know that many women are unsure about whether to continue practicing yoga during
their pregnancy, and although I'm not a medical expert and don't know the detailed
medical science behind pregnancy, what I do know is that my experience with yoga
during my pregnancy was extremely positive and affirming. I felt that it enhanced
both the quality of my body and the baby growing inside me. And yes, I went on
to deliver a very healthy and beautiful baby girl!
Therefore, for any woman who has been practicing yoga for any length of time
and becomes pregnant, I say, "Keep practicing. Listen to your body. Trust
it. And know that both you and your growing baby deserve it and will be better
because of it!"
Claremont School of Theology