Yoga helped me get through my pregnancy with minimal discomfort.
Every time I am asked about my pregnancy, my answer turns a simple question into a long discussion about the benefits of yoga during pregnancy.
Let me say first, that I never took yoga seriously before my pregnancy. My practice through the years was quite scattered, sometimes it was once every 2 months and sometimes 3 times a week. I practiced with friends, or because I had found a good teacher, and at some point in my life it gave me something to focus on when everything else seemed out of control. I never took it seriously, never pushed myself to go to class – except, when I was pregnant.
During my pregnancy, yoga became a serious matter. I was already in my 8th week when I found out I was pregnant. A few weeks before that I felt my body & ligaments were more flexible; suddenly I was able to go deeper into postures and it made me feel good but I didn’t understand then why I was so dizzy and tired after each class.
Pregnancy caught up with me and I had to stop yoga almost immediately after that. Basically I stopped going out of the house until my first trimester was over. Being in bed with morning, afternoon and night-sickness, made me feel awful. I refused to accept the situation, I was almost angry at my body for making me so sick. I promised myself that as soon as I felt better I would do something about it.
So as soon as my first trimester ended, I started practicing yoga. Religiously.
Going to yoga classes was challenging: a 30 minute walk, a 7 storey trek without an elevator up to the studio, 1.5 hours of yoga and then 7 floors down (sounds easy but try doing that with a watermelon in your arms), and then of course, the 30 minute walk back home.
My teacher Judy. and friend Natasha both took the time to show me modified versions of the Ashtanga Vinyasa postures, to work with me on a self-practice, advise me, correct me, inspire me. Next to Judy’s yoga studio there is a nice little farmer’s market. So on the days I lacked motivation to go to class, hunger and cravings for fresh fruits and vegetables (especially avocados, my special thing during pregnancy) pulled me out my door.
Yes, I did eat before classes, actually when you are pregnant you shouldn’t practice on an empty stomach; and you should drink small quantities of water during practice to prevent dehydration and uterine contractions.
Yoga was not a painful activity anymore; it had become something I desperately needed in order not to BE in pain. The benefits were amazing: Being healthy from yoga practice gave me self-confidence; I was at peace with my body going through all these changes. Doing my pranayama almost every day made me feel calm, and relaxed. It helped me breath through back pain and deal with shortness of breath.
Two very common feelings during pregnancy are fear (the fear of something going wrong, the fear of pain for example) and stress. Meditation techniques helped me deal with this. Closing my eyes and putting my hands on my belly, breathing and emptying my thoughts, focusing, all this brought me awareness and helped me connect with my baby in a way that is impossible to explain.
I felt calm and confident.
The Triangle pose helped me build up strength and removed tension from the lower and upper back. The Cat and Cow Pose did wonders for my back. The Pigeon pose was my favorite hip opener; something in this posture was just wonderful. And of course, I loved Child’s pose. I used to spend several minutes just breathing in this posture.
I felt prepared for the birth.
Yoga helped me bring awareness to my breath and body, it reduced my worries and I felt like I could adapt quickly to a new situation. I managed to go through the contractions without drugs, just by using my breathing exercises. The conditioning gained from mula bandha (like Kegel exercises) and breathing techniques helped me a great deal when it was time to push the baby out.
Did I become a passionate and devoted yoga student after this positive experience? Well, to be honest, not exactly.
After birth, I just didn’t have the time between feeds, naps and diaper changes. The me time was barely enough to have a shower, brush my teeth and call a friend (or two if the nap was long enough).
Then 3 weeks ago, my baby turned 1 and showed me in her cute little way, she was actually OK with me not being around all the time. So, this week I’ve attended 2 classes. A small victory. A sort of declaration of independence on my side too.
I also found my way back to the farmer’s market, so once again, my baby and I enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.
For more info about yoga during pregnancy: http://www.ashtanga.com/html/pregnancy.html