Pregnancy is a time of radical hormone changes coupled with major shifts in your physical state. If you're used to having a sweaty yoga practice like me, not doing it for nine months feels like yet another huge life shift. Sun salutations no longer include Chaturanga and bridge pose can bring on intense back pain. And as the belly grows, so can grow the anxiety around giving birth and becoming a parent.
Yet it can be a special time to focus less on physical asana and go deeper into the mind: pregnancy is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and discover the strength and wisdom inherent in our bodies during this magical time of transformation.
In Ayurveda, pregnancy is viewed as one of the most spiritually important times in a woman's life - when her aura is particularly luminous and her intuition is peaked. Traditional Ayurvedic practices stress the importance of self care and meditation for a healthy nervous system during pregnancy. According to Deepak Chopra, "In each moment, your unborn baby is immersed in the sounds and vibrations of your heartbeat and breath. The potential of your child's life is encoded in each of your baby's cells, while the environment of your body can either nurture or disturb this growth. Accept this responsibility with joy, for each healthy choice that you make on behalf of your unborn baby nourishes you as well."
A consistent meditation practice can have a major positive impact on your pregnancy. Here are my top four reasons for practicing prenatal meditation:
Savor Your Last Few Moments of Peace
Especially if you are a first time mom, your growing belly is a gentle reminder that these are some of the last few months you have to enjoy yourself completely on your own. Cherish the calm, quiet spaces of your mind and the feeling of a sweet baby growing inside of you. This is a sacred time you won't have again.
Master Breath Control Techniques
Breathing is the bridge between your mind, body and baby. Breath control can help to create a steady rhythm of calm while lowering your blood pressure and increasing your oxygen intake. By practicing different pranayama techniques during pregnancy, you can be better prepared to handle the pain of labor. Plus, focused breathing creates a deep level of mental rest that is incredibly soothing for both you and the baby growing in your womb.
Reduce Pain During Labor
Your mind body connection will be incredibly important when giving birth. Pregnancy can bring a lot of uncertainty and unwanted stress. The fear of childbirth pain has led many women to lose sight of birth as normal and natural. Getting to know the patterns of your mind can help you stay focused and empowered during childbirth. Pain isn't only a physical discomfort, but an experience of the mind and the anticipation of continuing pain. Practicing meditation can help you to experience labor as intense physical sensations that will arise, peak and eventually pass. Plus it's the safest and most effective way to non-pharmacologically reduce pain during labor.
A recent study exploring preterm birth found that women who participated in a mindfulness training program were 50% less likely to give birth early than women with no mindfulness education. Going full term helps your baby to fully develop before entering the world. Meditation has also been shown to enhance the body's immune function. A healthy immune system can help to protect your body and your baby during pregnancy and from immune-related issues after delivery.
Simple Prenatal Meditation
Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
Place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly.
As you inhale, feel the nourishment and oxygen that you bring in and how it moves into the softness of your belly.
As you exhale, allow your breath to gently release and slowly spread down through your body, removing any tension and softening your pelvic floor.
Continue breathing like this for 5-10 minutes.
Notice any thoughts, and let them gently pass.
Yogini Shireen is chattra's marketing master. She is a San Francisco Bay Area native. She has been practicing yoga for over a decade and became a certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher in Bali in 2015. She was a buyer for YogaOutlet.com for four years and Sports Basement for three. She spearheaded a yoga & wellness retreat at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, including organizing an Ayurveda workshop in 2017. She is passionate about living in harmony with nature and in oneness with each other. Her first baby is due to arrive in September!