I think in our western world it is safe to say that the majority of the draw to yoga is for the physical benefits. Eager new students rush to class with visions of long, slim and flexible limbs; a toned and tiny midsection; and a healthy yoga “glow”. Having practiced yoga for just less than 10 years now, I am aware of the ebb and flow of one’s personal practice. What always brings me back to my mat is not boiled down to how my body feels (though that is an added bonus), but the quieting of the mind and nurturing of the spirit.
Pregnancy is a time for massive change not only physically but also mentally. Our hormones change and we will likely experience a roller coaster of emotions – anything from excitement and joy to overwhelming anxiety about what the future holds.
Just like the rest of yoga practicers, many pregnant mothers are initially looking to yoga as a safe and healthy way to stay fit during pregnancy. What some do not know is that yoga can help them deal with the depression that sometimes accompanies pregnancy. Michelle Rose writes in her article, “Yoga a mood booster for pregnant women”,
“Brown University psychologist Associate Professor Cynthia Battle and her team asked 34 pregnant women suffering “moderate” prenatal depression to take part in a 10-week maternity yoga program. They were also encouraged to practise their poses at home. On average the women’s depression scores dropped from “moderate” to “mild” by the end of the study.”
How is yoga curing this depression? It probably has to do with mindfulness.
Amy McMillan, certified yoga teacher and mindful mamma, writes about coming back to her yoga practice after taking a break after she had her daughter.
“My biggest mistake was to stop the daily yoga and mindfulness practice that had kept me balanced for the past few years. Without it, I was lost. As I strayed from my yoga path, I found myself more reactive and less able to ride the waves of the storm of early motherhood. It took eight months of increasing exhaustion to teach me that something had to change. I re-started my short daily asana (physical yoga) and meditation practice and I made this a priority. It was – and still is – the first thing I do when my daughter sleeps; before the hundred other things on the list. Is this self-indulgent? Absolutely not. A bit of time to yourself is the absolute key to being a balanced and happy mum. I can honestly say that this precious daily thirty minutes has saved my sanity. As I re-discovered my path, I realised just how useful mindfulness is for parents. Being a parent is so full of distractions, it’s the ultimate opportunity to practice.”
Pregnancy can be an opportunity for you to connect on another level spiritually while in the physical asana practices. Anastasia Nevin, yoga instructor, talks about how enjoyable a mindful yoga practice is for her prenatal students.
“My prenatal students tell me of their nearly primal connection to the earth as they sink into a deep squat and breathe into their growing belly, preparing to bring a new life into this world.”
Yoga for pregnant mothers is always a good idea. Jump into it with an open heart and see it as an opportunity to deepen your practice with a true beginner’s mind.
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