The concept behind Pregnancy Yoga is to help the mother achieve a balancing and harmonising within her by uniting the breath with conscious movement of the body, and in so doing beginning the lifelong journey of bonding with the growing baby within her.
The word yoga means ‘unity’ or ‘oneness’ and is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj which means ‘to join’. This unity or joining is described in spiritual terms as the union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. On a more practical level, yoga is a means of balancing and harmonising the body, mind and emotions. This is achieved by moving the body through the practice of yoga asana in combination with specific breathing techniques which consciously increase and move prana (vital energy or chi) throughout the body, known in yogic terms as pranayama.
There is so much fear and anxiety from the first day of knowing you are pregnant. Instantly you are informed of the risks involved by the medical profession. A woman who can breathe and keep her spine well aligned will be less likely to become depressed or anxious.
Francoise Freedman, spoken word 27.06.2009
There are many benefits to the expectant mother of breathing deeply, and one of the first breaths that I teach during my classes is the Full Yogic Breath, where a complete breathing pattern is encouraged which makes optimum use of the decreasing lung space available during pregnancy. This optimal use of available lung capacity can boost energy and lift the spirits of an often tired pregnant woman.
Focus on the breath, and particular yoga asanas, can help to balance the volatile emotional shifts of pregnancy and the post- natal period. They can also assist in lowering the blood pressure, and aid the promotion of deep relaxation. The breath forms a special and continuous bond between mother and baby throughout pregnancy, as inside the womb the child hears and feels every breath that the mother takes. This means that all the pranayama techniques provide a very tangible way for the expectant mother to connect with her baby, and to prepare for the relationship with her child after birth.
Having an awareness of breathing fully and starting to feel the energising and revitalising effects of pranayama practice is a wonderful experience to have during pregnancy, birth and post-nataly and indeed throughout a woman’s entire life. During pregnancy women tend to be drawn to yoga because of the benefits they receive and also because this is a time when a woman more than ever in her life needs to follow the lead of her body in the development and birthing of her baby. It is a time when if a woman can intimately get to know her own body before she gives birth then she will feel confident, relaxed and above all empowered to deliver her baby – preparing her to meet this incredible Rite of Passage in her life in a relaxed, unhurried and gentle way.