When Sara asked me if I could write a short piece on the benefits of yoga during pregnancy, I knew that the only way I could authentically write on this subject is to talk about my own experience.
The pregnancy journey.
The journey through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood thus far has been filled with a whole spectrum of emotions, and not only because of the hormones, but because I am human and I physically grew one inside me. My pregnancy was filled with so much excitement and gratitude, and at the same time, lots of fear and uncertainty. I used my yoga practice to help me navigate through these feelings, and I did that through breathing deeply and moving my body in a strong and mindful way. Allow me to explain…
One of the focal points of my yoga journey so far has been exploring the balance between strength and ease because I personally believe that one cannot truly exist without the other for a healthy mind and body. We need strength. A strong foundation is crucial, especially to support a pain-free and healthy pregnancy. However, if we are all strength and effort, we build rigidity and create a huge amount of struggle in everything that we do. We need a balance of both. To achieve this balance, it first of all requires us to listen to what our bodies are telling us. “Can you feel for where you are gripping or tensing unnecessarily?” is a question I often ask my students.
Listening to our bodies
If we listen intently and quietly, our bodies will tell us where we need to release any excess tension. Expanding a slow high-quality breath within the intensity of standing poses gives us some of the tools to soften within the strength and practise struggle free. Labour, post-birth, and parenthood are challenging and intense, and the more we harden against it, the more we stagnate. When we learn to practise softening and feeling through breath, we are able to respond to challenges with more intelligence, resourcefulness and perspective. And this to me is what yoga is all about.
Believe in yourself
To truly soften, I believe, is a complete act of surrender. We are essentially saying to our bodies: I trust you. I believe in you. Now let go.
Even just uttering those words in this moment sends shivers down my spine. It’s so incredibly powerful. The truth is, although we hate to admit it, we have very little to no control over our pregnancy and birth. We can of course do the “right” things, whatever that really means, and gather some useful information and tools, but ultimately, learning to trust and embrace the changing body and surrender to the process, is one of the greatest skills a woman can pick up on this rollercoaster of a journey. Pregnant or not, perhaps try repeating those above statements to yourself. It feels freeing, peaceful and spacious in my body, can you feel that too?
The bottom line is that yoga helps pregnant women prepare emotionally and physically for birth and parenthood. So yes I probably could have provided you with a long list of benefits, but let’s be honest, your friend Google can already find hundreds of those online for you. Move your body in a way that is strong and grounded. Breathe in a way that nourishes and feeds you. Breathe in a way that allows you to feel, soften, trust and surrender. The rest will fall into place.
If you would like to know more about pregnancy yoga or if you want to ask Nicole any questions directly, please visit her website: https://www.nicoleroseyoga.com/