• Confessions of a Pregnant Yogi

     

    Let us make pregnancy an occasion when we appreciate our female bodies. – Merete Leonhardt-Lupa

    My name is Karine. I am a 27-year-old yoga and Stand Up Paddle board yoga instructor, also known as, SUPyoga, living in Canada. I am currently pregnant with my first child and I couldn’t be more excited for the new adventure that lies ahead. But let’s be honest, my journey through pregnancy thus far has not been all rosy and easy, and I’m not only referring to the dreaded first trimester nausea. This blog is merely an open reflection on my experience, so far, as an expecting mama, yoga instructor, and yogi. (Disclaimer: I am not a certified medical professional and I do not have the capacity to provide medical advice pertaining to you and your child’s health). My wish is that you may find comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this journey whether you are currently expecting, thinking of conceiving, or already the parent of little ones.

    “I think it is not safe for you to teach anymore. You need to practice only at this point. We will see if we can find a sub for tonight but next week your class is off the schedule. Take care of you.”

    I was 14-weeks pregnant when I received the above quoted email from a studio owner notifying me that I could no longer teach yoga classes because they deemed it to be “unsafe.” I had been teaching room temperature flow classes at this studio for nearly two years and I was in the midst of co-leading a YTT program at the time. I sadly had to abandon the YTT students as well as my partner mid-training as I could not for the life of me be associated to a studio that made such discriminatory and unjust comments regarding their instructors, let alone a pregnant woman. For obvious reasons, I was quite distraught and saddened by these events. I was angered and disappointed. This ultimately led to a whole lot of self-blame. Voices of doubt and fear overwhelmed me with negative thoughts.

    “Having a baby will ruin your big dreams.”
    “Your yoga career is over.”
    “Forget all of your future plans to travel the world.”
    “Your body will never be the same.”

    You get the picture.

    With time and support from loved ones, I healed from this event and found it in my heart to forgive this person for the hurt they caused. I also finally understood all of the typical clichés one hears regarding one door closing and another one opening, working hard on your dreams even if others don’t believe in it, and everything happening for a reason.

    The biggest lesson, however, was that my pregnancy journey is no one else’s, but mine. As an expecting mama, right when your pregnancy test turns positive, your mind automatically fills with 10,000 worries you previously never had. You must learn to adapt to your rapidly changing body and growing belly, not to mention fluctuating hormones that can make you go a little nuts. Breast pain, backaches, headaches, nosebleeds, gum swelling, nausea, cramps, anxiety, vivid dreams, insomnia, you name it. On top of that, sooner than later, you will start to hear comments from colleagues, friends, family members, strangers at the grocery store, or even the barista at your local coffee shop.

    “Are you finding out the sex the baby?”
    “Why don’t you want to find out the sex of the baby?”
    “Make sure you control your emotions, the baby can feel everything you feel.”
    “Are you sure you should still be working out at the gym?”

    The list goes on.

    People will always have unsolicited advice regarding your pregnancy but, truth be told, this is your, and your baby’s, journey. You are blossoming life inside you and it is a beautiful thing. We should not fear losing ourselves along the way in this new adventure. When it comes to your yoga practice or your health and fitness regime, it has been proven time and time again that physical activity is beneficial to you and baby. Keep in mind that engaging in a strenuous exercise program or starting a brand new fitness regime may not be the greatest idea, but maintaining your usual movement practice is generally safe and encouraged.

    You are so beautifully designed that childbearing does not automatically incapacitate you from enjoying pleasures like, spending time on your yoga mat, unless medically necessary. There is a magnitude of programs at the disposal of pregnant mamas looking to stay active. Practicing yoga through pregnancy can help reduce backaches, increase your energy, encourage better sleep, help with laboring, and aid in digestion–which is slowed by the Relaxin hormone causing bloating, excess gas, and constipation. In addition, yoga can help calm the anxious mind, as well as, help in developing good breathing techniques. Omstars offers a wonderful 40-week yoga series called, Prenatal Week-By-Week: Fertility Goddess by Sonia Ribas, specifically created for mamas-to-be. As for my personal practice, I still teach yoga classes on average 3-times per week on top of my full-time, regular work, attend the gym 3-to-4 days a week, and walk a minimum of 4-kilometers per day. I feel happier, healthier, and stronger than ever. Doors have continued to open since leaving the yoga studio and new adventures continue to brew in the horizon.

    Practice Prenatal Yoga on Omstars

    To the wonderful mamas to be, I encourage you to listen to your body and your medical professional’s advice, not someone else’s opinion or judgement. Although every woman’s pregnancy journey is different, it’s important to remember that your emotional and physical well-being is a priority.

    You are strong.

    You are beautiful.

    You were made for this.

    After all, this is your body and who knows you better than you?

    By Karine Halle

    Karine is a yoga instructor & SUP yoga instructor from Ottawa, Canada. She trained and coached competitively in gymnastics and dance for years and after having suffered sports related injuries, she realized the importance of safe practice and healthy movement. She enjoys the beauty of rhythm and flow by linking breath with movement. Karine makes it her goal to always remain a student – continuing to deepen her knowledge, her practice, and forever learning from her students. Learn to fall in love with taking care of yourself body, mind, and Spirit.

  • Entering Motherhood? How Yoga Can Help You Prepare

    Prenatal yoga has come to help many women through pregnancy, birth, and being with their newborns. It can help you feel less frightened about motherhood by helping you become aware of the intense connection you have with your baby already; when you’re able to understand and feel that connection, there is no greater power. Plus, there are poses that can be done safely at any stage of your pregnancy, and it helps you relax, which puts the baby inside of you more at ease.

    Practicing Meditation

    Meditating involves creating stillness throughout your entire being. Usually, this type of stillness only occurs when you sleep, but it’s important to commit to plenty of stillness when you’re pregnant. A yoga practice can assist you in your quest to find peace and tranquility within, and it is the gateway to creating a stronger meditation practice.

    Additionally, yoga relaxes the space of refuge in which your baby resides, and helps you to send warm, energetic love to your little one. If you are able to spiritually tune in, you can really sense your baby. That awareness makes you feel incredible love and knowing. We already know that baby can hear music, so it must be true that they can sense the love and safety you are sending them.

    Yoga Helps You Gain Strength for Child Birth

    While the poses you do in yoga are gentle, they do slowly build up your strength at a deep level. You will need to withstand a great deal of pain during your delivery. As you know, labour can be a marathon and it’s very hard on the body. The baby also goes through this intense process with you. When you’re more relaxed due to physical and mental strength, you are more able to focus on the intention of bringing your baby peacefully into the world.

    Giving Yourself Space to Connect with the Baby

    Yoga and mindfulness are deeply connected. When you practice yoga and breathe into the poses, you can also mentally breathe loving energy and thoughts to your baby. Taking time out to be with your baby and connect with him or her at a deep level is good practice. There are a lot of unknowns when you’re entering motherhood. Feeling the energy within you and getting to know your baby before it arrives makes it a lot less scary, and helps you relax into the process.

    Your Baby Connects with Yoga

    When you go into certain poses, it’s actually helpful for your baby. Downward dog is an example of this. When you go into a pose that puts you upside down and takes pressure off your organs, you may also be putting your baby upside down.

    The direct benefits don’t occur until you attend mom and baby yoga later, but your baby will have remembered the feeling of being upside down and will respond well in the yoga class. It’s not such a foreign idea for your baby because you’ve already put them in similar position.

    The Benefit of Yogic Breathing

    Breathing deeply is going to calm you down and help you feel more relaxed emotionally, physically, and mentally. The baby feels everything so when you can relax, you give baby the safe space it needs. Certain breaths can help to slow down your heart rate so your body naturally relaxes. Your heartbeat is the soundtrack your baby hears over and over. Offer baby soothing music.

    To practice breathing for the time you’ll be going into labour, you want to be well versed in your breathing techniques. Deep breathing into the belly and the chest mimic some of the breathing you’ll need to do for when you’re in labour.

    Gaining an Awareness of the Body

    Yoga helps you get to the point where you know your body well. You understand what is tense and what areas are loose and relaxed. If you practice even just a little every day, you can put out fires in the body and ensure that all tension is released. You also become aware of the emotional tension that arises which is important when you’re pregnant. Many expecting moms have a lot of anxiety.

    Yoga and the act of mindfulness allow you to gain better insight into why the anxiety is there. You can sit with discomfort and still live with an open heart. The beautiful part of it is you can look to your unborn child and find peace. This takes some practice but it really helps you find the courage to relax into your future.

    The Baby and Mom Connection

    Many times, women will experience deep depression and anxiety once the baby is born. They will feel terrified that they won’t do the right things. If you experience post-partum depression, it can become a terrible cycle of loneliness and terror. This is where yoga really helps an expecting mom.

    Yoga helps create strength within you at all levels. When the baby does come, you’ll be able to find the strength and peace within yourself. You will understand that you’re never alone and that you are always connected to the source, the spirit, the higher energy. When you can be the peace for your baby, you are contributing to his or her sense of security too. You can accept when something didn’t go quite right that you are both learning and are just humans. You let go of imperfection which can be a major source of your anxiety.

    Maybe your baby has eating problems, experiences discomfort or doesn’t sleep well. Self-blame doesn’t improve the situation. Be in the moment, relax into it and remember what you developed within your yoga class.

    By Meera Watts

    Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali)

    Meera Watts yoga teacher, prenatal yoga article

     

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