How Yoga Prepares New Mothers for the Journey of a Lifetime

Pregnancy and motherhood are journeys we sign on to for a lifetime. Think of the last journey you planned. How did you prepare? Did you read a book about your destination? Did you contemplate what to pack? Maybe, if the journey was physical, you started training. 

Imagine preparing for this journey with the support of a group of other women training for the same event. This is the greatest benefit to participating in a prenatal and/or baby-and-me yoga class. A sense of community and camaraderie develops among women going through the same experiences.

Ask any pregnant woman how’s she’s feeling and (depending on how well you know her) you may get a long list of  concerns, from backaches, to swollen feet, digestive issues, and let’s not forget, fear and anxiety surrounding the impending birth. Or ask a new mom how she is, and she might admit that she’s tired, worried sometimes, and not sure if she’s doing it “right.”

Prenatal yoga is a place for women to share information, ask questions, and connect with themselves and their growing babies. Labor and motherhood can be intense, and one of the most physical and exhilarating things we will do as women. As with anything else in life, we need to “train” for these demanding experiences.

Prenatal yoga can prepare new mothers physically, mentally, and spiritually for the day-to-day changes in their body as well as for the “marathon” of labor. Specifically, yoga poses and intense sensation work can build the strength, flexibility, and stamina needed for labor and delivery.  Meditation, visualizations, and sounding (use of one’s voice) aid women in relaxing and letting go of control. Breathwork can support pain management, improve sleep, and decrease moodiness. In addition, yoga eases pregnancy discomforts, such as heartburn, shortness of breath, nausea, and back pain.

Many pregnant women also find that the inner focus required to maintain a yoga pose allows them to quiet the constant chatter in their minds, and brings out a feeling of mindful tranquility. Regardless of the type of birth a mother is planning, the focus and serenity she learns in her yoga practice will help her through pregnancy, labor, birth, and afterwards. But just as marriage is more than a wedding day, motherhood is more than a delivery. The empowerment you learn in yoga can also help years later when you’re dealing with your willful 2-year-old. When your toddler is in the throes of a tantrum, you’ll do better if you remember your breathing!

Pre- and postnatal yoga offer opportunities to get to know both your body and your baby, as well as build confidence in your body's ability to give birth and your ability to be a mother. This powerful practice can help women savor every moment from the very beginning, developing an intimacy with themselves and their unborn child, and connecting with the miracle of life. 

Find out about prenatal yoga teacher trainings with Jacci Gruninger at Kripalu.

Jacci Gruninger, E-RYT 500, RPYT, C-IAYT, is a Santa Fe-based yoga teacher and educator who completed her 200-hour training while in her fifth month of pregnancy.

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