About the Pregnancy Yoga Classes
These one-to-one classes with Paula are designed to relieve fatigue, tension and stress and will incorporate postures, breathing, meditation and deep relaxation and are suitable for all women from the 14th week on and no previous experience is necessary. At all times the aim will be to enhance the health and well-being of both mum and baby during the pregnancy, with all practices tailored to the needs of each individual, and in so doing prepare the mum-to-be on all levels for an empowering birth experience. Bring a blanket, cushion and water.
For Paula's article about her own experience of the practice while pregnant with our daughter, Grace, just click on the title below.
'Ashtanga and my pregnancy'
All private Pregnancy and Post-natal yoga classes with Paula are to be arranged by appointment. Please call Paula on 087 839 9338.
During pregnancy many students take up yoga for the first time without really understanding what it is they are actually signing up for, and without a clear insight into the benefits of a regular yoga practice. Yoga delivers far more than fitness during pregnancy although many choose to take classes for this reason alone. So many incredible changes take place within these 9 months, and yet it is often easy to be consumed by everyday activities and associated stresses to such an extent that we don’t fully connect with this miraculous life growing inside us. Yoga primarily enables the woman to honour herself and her baby during pregnancy by first and foremost providing a space where she can focus her inner awareness on developing a connection with her child. The purpose of this article is to outline the main reasons for practising yoga during pregnancy. It describes the benefits of a regular yoga practice that can be experienced throughout the pregnancy as well as during labour and birth.
Giving birth is extremely physically challenging (it is called ‘labour’ with good reason!). We are at a big advantage if we approach it at our physical best. Obviously the earlier we start the better – it is recommended waiting until week 14 when the pregnancy is well established. Even if the woman is well into her pregnancy (with only months or even weeks to her due date) it is never too late to start. The body quickly responds to the postures due to the high levels of pregnancy hormones secreted. The yoga postures recommended for pregnancy expand the cavity of the pelvic region creating space inside the uterus, ensuring proper blood circulation to the area. These postures are designed to open and release the pelvis, helping to prepare the body to open and release naturally when it is time to give birth. By practising during pregnancy, the body (through practical experience) becomes familiar with instinctive movements, facilitating a freedom in the pelvis during labour that can result in an easier birth.
Increased energy and vitality:
If we eat well, ensure we get enough sleep and rest, and get enough fresh air and exercise, the second trimester is usually a time when we experience great vitality. Our energy levels can be further improved by embarking on a yoga practice, as it generally improves blood and fluid circulation, and crucially increases our lung capacity enabling the breath to flow more easily.
Yoga provides relief for mental tensions, calming the nervous system and leading to a lighter approach to life, which also contributes to increased vitality and a positive outlook. As the life-force increases the woman feels an improved sense of well-being on all levels, that is without doubt also experienced by her unborn baby.
Emotional well-being and mental clarity:
Pregnancy can be a time of great emotional upheaval as we come to terms with the changes experienced when a new life is growing inside us. It is perfectly natural to feel anxious about the challenges and responsibilities that come with being a mother. This emotional roller-coaster can be overwhelming and we may be tempted to avoid or suppress such feelings, especially those rooted in fear and anxiety. This can create blockages at an energetic level that inhibit the natural flow of prana (life-force) through our system, denying ourselves the opportunity to fully experience the enjoyment and contentment of being pregnant. Yoga can help us to accept all our feelings around the pregnancy and impending birth, and if we practice gently in a supportive environment the potential for self-empowerment, self-healing and transformation is phenomenal. When we have an established yoga practice we have the tools available to us to get to know ourselves at the deepest level, to trust our instincts and to develop a quiet mind accompanied by a sense of inner peace that allows us to stay calm and present in every situation, regardless of circumstance or outcome. If we can make these tools work for us, we can be assured that we will approach labour from a position of confidence, maximising our inner-resources and surrendering to the birthing process as it unfolds.
This does not guarantee an easy labour or even a natural birth, but it helps the intuition to surface and with this comes a deep wisdom that will guide the mother through any difficulties that arise along the way. It is then possible to face the challenge of giving birth from a position of empowerment rather than fear.
The value of breathing techniques during labour is a controversial subject in that many midwives believe that the woman adopts her own instinctive birthing breath and therefore does not require any learnt practice. It makes sense that breathing should be free and spontaneous. However for most of us today it is often difficult to tune into intuitive breathing rhythms in everyday life, never mind when we are in the midst of the intensely powerful experience called labour! The practice of specific breathing techniques during pregnancy can help us to access an instinctive breath pattern during labour and birth.
Memorising a technique alone can act as a distraction, so a regular practice is necessary to reinforce positive breathing patterns at a cellular level, allowing the body to absorb this knowledge so that it kicks in instinctively at birth. By focusing awareness on the breath, it is possible to stay calm and grounded through some of the most intense sensations a woman is ever likely to experience. During the course of the pregnancy, the breath will assist the woman to bond with her baby, reinforcing the link between their body rhythms. During labour, calm breathing will help to ensure that the baby receives a continuous supply of oxygen greatly increasing the mothers chance of having a natural delivery.
In summary, the evidence for practising yoga during pregnancy is compelling. Yoga offers us the opportunity to embark on an inward journey of self-discovery – a journey that increases our physical vitality, emotional stability, mental clarity, intellectual wisdom and spiritual bliss. These gifts are invaluable throughout ones life, and especially during pregnancy and birth, provide a solid foundation for the miraculous transition from womanhood to motherhood. This transition is an opportunity for the woman to access an inner strength that is the feminine source of all life. Embracing fully this uniquely female experience, facing even her deepest fears and anxieties, she can access this sacredness that lies within and, surrendering to that ancient wisdom, discover the true essence of yoga.
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