Empowering pregnant women through contemplation on the Yamas and Niyamas

I have been teaching Birthlight Perinatal Yoga for roughly 12 years now and am always amazed at how empowering simple yoga classes can be. For many women their first experience of yoga is when they are pregnant. Usually they join classes to do some gentle stretches and learn to relax but there is so much more we can offer them.

I tend to introduce the more spiritual aspects of yoga in a subtle way. Each week I encourage the women to get together in 2s or 3s and briefly discuss things like why they’ve come to yoga, how they feel the mind affects the pregnancy and the birth, the role diet plays in pregnancy, etc. The rest of the class with then be themed around the central initial discussion. Some weeks I may theme the class around one of the Yamas or Niyamas. Through quiet reflection mums can begin to have a deeper understanding of their own minds and how to let go of anything that may no longer be serving them.

Ahimsa or non-violence can be very helpful and does not necessarily have to be introduced as a spiritual concept.  Rather than using the word Ahimsa or non-violence I encourage the mums to connect to baby on a daily basis, be kind towards themselves, ensuring that things like knees and wrists are supported in class, thinking about how diet is important to health of mum and baby, noticing negative thought patterns , etc.  Using positive affirmations and deep relaxation are all subtle forms of Ahimsa.  I may guide the mums into a relaxation where she sees herself as the baby, noticing her surroundings in the womb, the  thoughts and feelings, as well as diet and relationships in mum’s life. Sometimes the student will realise how some subtle changes to daily habits may need to be made for both personal and baby wellbeing. One such exercise led to one of my students, who was an aerobics instructor, to realise that she had been playing her music so loud in her classes with no thought to her baby. She immediately made some simple changes to ensure that her baby felt safe and secure whilst in the womb.  

Satya is another powerful Yamas that can be introduced to our pregnant mums. Being truthful about how we are feeling is important. Pregnancy can be an emotional experience and the emotions are there to highlight things that may need to shift before baby arrives. Reminding women to speak their truth in a gentle way is important. Usually when women join the classes and we have our initial chat everyone always responds to the question ‘How are you?’ with ‘All good’ but as the weeks progress I encourage the students  to tell us how they are really feeling.  Acknowledging all feelings in this way enables us to feel heard on all levels, which can be very healing and empowering. The key to connecting to emotions is to approach them with kind curiosity so there is no judgement to anything that arises.

Santosha is a wonderful Niyama which allows us to embrace a feeling of contentment. The practice of yoga allows that natural state of contentment to rise from within.  When we settle the mind, deepen the breath, move simply and relax deeply then a softness or effortless spaciousness arises in both the body and mind.  This leads to contentment which can have profound effect to a pregnant women especially if she has been feeling tense, worried or anxious.  We can encourage our students to also feel content about the little things in life. Noticing the air on the face, pausing to smell a rose, hugging a tree, smiling to each kick from baby or spending quality time with loved ones.

As the weeks unfold there are perceptible changes that begin to take place in the students as they start to embrace these simple ideas.  A sense of community begins to form within the groups as they learn to speak their truth and they often create postnatal friendships that last years.  A woman may arrive in class stressed and overworked but begins to learn to let go a little and rest more. These subtle changes can have a profound affect on the rest of the her life. I am always so thankful to Birthlight when I bump into a past student who expresses how pregnancy yoga proved to be so beneficial and helpful not only during pregnancy and birth but throughout her life.

Lisa Powell
Birthlight Perinatal Yoga and Well Woman Yoga teacher
www.lisapowell.com

Our next Perinatal yoga courses are:


Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 1
16-19 December 2016
Venue: Synchronicity Studios, London, UK

More info & booking>


Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 1
10-13 January 2017
Venue: Shanghai, China

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Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 2
14-15 January 2017
Venue: Shanghai, China

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Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 2
20-21 January 2017
Venue: Birthlight Switzerland, Zurich, Switzerland

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Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 2
4-5 February 2017
Venue: Harborne Health Clinic, Birmingham, UK

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Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 1
10-13 March 2017
Venue: Yoga Moves, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 2
16-17 March 2017
Venue: Yoga Moves, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Baby Yoga

Perinatal Yoga - Part 1
31 March - 4 April 2017
Venue: effraspace, London, UK

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More scheduled courses>

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