Saturday morning, I wondered what I was doing in a pre-natal yoga workshop; after all, I hadn’t had a pregnant woman in class for at least one year. Furthermore, my own pregnancies were more than 22 years ago! Something inside nagged me to attend the workshop though, and one thing I’ve learned from my years of practice is to listen to that voice, so I went. And how informative and fun, it was! I learned that I had A LOT of emotions that I’d been carrying with me through the years regarding my own birthing experiences as well as my experiences as a mother and my relationship with my own mother. There’s nothing like yoga to cause all the STUFF to rise to the surface! And what is the appropriate response? Be present; just be present and observe whatever happens, whatever you are feeling, or thinking, or dreaming. Accept the *stuff* as part of you and honor all of it. Let it go. Breathe and breathe another long slow breath, for all of us – you and your baby – and me and my fledglings.
The theme of the weekend, if there was one, was that pregnancy is a time of awakening intuition and pregnant women should be provided skills and opportunities to support the process of looking inward. This will support them as they enter motherhood as well.
The workshop was arranged with a mix of pre-natal information from an RN yogini, asana with Dariel and Maureen, and q & a with a practicing midwife yogini. We all had opportunity to wear the pregnancy vest that included enlarged breasts, belly, and baby weight sitting on the bladder. See Dariel’s photo on top above and below where she is demonstrating a great way for expectant moms to stretch their backs on a large physio ball placed on a chair. To the far left she is demonstrating a safe practice of hasta padangusthasana using chair, wall, and strap.
Maureen led us in a memorable wall sit. We each pressed an 8 inch physio ball between our knees, while keeping head and back on the wall. We attempted to keep it up for a full minute (thighs burning, I tell you). This would teach the pregnant woman how to breathe and focus even through pain. It was very effective and I will definitely use that in classes for everyone – students get ready! One of the great gifts of yoga and meditation is the ability to learn to stay present through turmoil and pain.
Lots of anecdotal birthing stories were shared among the participants throughout the weekend revealing the unique path each woman follows in the process of bringing forth a new life.
We enjoyed time on Saturday to walk in the gorge, or to walk along the street beside ripening vineyards, breathing in the intoxicating scent of grapes.
Sunday morning we covered deep relaxation, breath techniques, finding personal rhythm to assist the birthing process, several styles of vocal toning for Stage 3, and more asanas appropriate for supporting pregnancy.
By lunchtime Sunday, the weather turned rainy and we all wanted to chat and bond, or practice our own asana.
The grand finale of the weekend was Maureen’s gentle voice leading us through a pre-natal yoga class complete with guided centering and a final blissful savasana.
By the time I sat up, I almost wished I were pregnant again!
For FURTHER STUDY see Brenda K. Plakens (Grounding thru the sitbones) article in Yoga Journal:Tools For Teaching Prenatal Yoga