From Pregnancy to Pushing: The Power of Prenatal Yoga
Blog Post by Brynn Cunningham
Prenatal yoga guided me through both of my pregnancies and into the birth of both of my sons, who were born naturally and peacefully at home with the assistance of two midwives.
In my second, most recent pregnancy, my practice became an intuitive, creative, breath-centric, go-with-the-flow style of yoga, which contributed to the very active birth of my youngest, Grey, born April 2 at 8 pounds, 13 ounces and 21 ¼ inches.
My yoga practice became as necessary for me as sleeping. It informed one of the most instinctual experiences of a mother’s life – birth! The practice perpetuated my being, sharpened my intuition and gave me something to use during my Grey’s labor.
Here are five ways prenatal yoga empowered me, from pregnancy to pushing:
1. It provided me with an array of poses that eliminated common ailments such as sciatica, achy feet, nausea, symphysis pubis dysfunction and even fatigue. For every physical ache or pain, yoga had an answer! Downward facing dog, Malasana (Buddha squat), standing straddle, butterfly (yin style) and pigeon pose were among my favorites, and so were circular, Chandra Namaskar practices, which circle around the mat in full moon fashion.
2. Yoga gave me several go-to meditations that calmed my spirit when the anticipation of labor became overwhelming or when I became anxious about how I could be an attentive mother to my infant and three-year-old at the same time. Visualization empowered me, Kundalini mantra chanting soothed me and silent sitting with closed eyes and deep breaths connected me spiritually to my little one.
3. Now on to the birth… at the peak of each contraction, my body found it’s way to yoga. The two poses that helped me manage the intensity of contractions were Ustrasana (camel pose), during which I held onto one of my midwife’s or husband’s forearms and bent backward while standing on my knees, and Skandasana, also known as a half squat, surfer or skater pose. The stretching released some of the unbearable tightening sensation and gave me something productive to do. Between contractions I either walked around the house or stood and shook my limbs while bouncing, an act of letting go or releasing.
4. The BREATH!!! The labor of my first son was 20 hours long and built up slowly and steadily. Grey’s labor was much different – it came on quickly and lasted only 6.5 hours. Though shorter, the high-speed intensity kept overpowering my ability to breathe! Luckily, as yoga instructors, we are trained to breathe well. The hyperventilating state I found myself succumbing to throughout and even after labor did not last long, because I knew how to fight back. In between contractions long, slow, deep breaths were needed, as a contraction built up and peaked, Bumble Bee breath helped, and once it subsided, Lion’s Breath and/or breathing out with a fluttering of the lips (also known as horse lips) provided release. Amen to Pranayama!
5. Pushing. After working hard through contractions, the hard work of pushing comes. Endurance and strength are required, and yoga, specifically standing poses such as Warriors, Goddess and Uktasana (chair pose) helped prepare my body to hold, essentially, a chair pose and a squat, for 30 minutes during the pushing phase. At that point, I was grateful for my commitment to physical health throughout pregnancy!
With that said, each pregnancy, and each woman, is different. Even more, the elements of yoga that enhanced each of my pregnancies and births differed from one another. Still, prenatal yoga has the power to touch each woman in her own way. It supplies a path toward innate wisdom and feelings that can only be cultivated from within, from a deeply personal practice cultivated from the depths of the soul. To let oneself find her truth and spirit during pregnancy may be the most valuable gift she can give to her baby.
So, expecting moms, join me on a journey toward a healthy, happy, confident pregnancy and birth! My summer prenatal yoga series begins this Friday. Attend one class or all three.
Many blessings to you and hope to see you soon!
Friday, June 16, 23 & 30
5:45 - 6:45 p.m.
$15 drop-in or
$40 for 3-class pass
Monthly Members Receive 15% Off
Drop in or register here!
Move. Breathe. Relax.
Much Love <3,