There is no reason that expectant mothers may not continue to practice Yoga right up to the time of birth, and in fact, it is most advised that regular practice of all aspects of Integral Yoga should be employed for the well being of mother and baby. There has been a long-standing belief amongst many doctors, mothers, and even some yoga teachers, that Yoga should not be performed during pregnancy. This attitude comes more from ignorance of Yoga than from a proper understanding of it.
The primary techniques of Integral Yoga, namely the gentle Yoga Asanas, Pranayamas, Yoga Nidra and Mantra Japa have always been taught, and are presented here, as entirely suitable for a mother and her child. Throughout this book, references are often made to the benefits and the precautions that are relevant to pre and Postnatal Yoga. There is no danger if care and awareness are used along with guidance from a teacher knowledgeable in these practices.
With all the yoga practices during pregnancy, the golden rule is: “IF IT IS UNCOMFORTABLE – DON’T.” You will develop a knowing for what is beneficial and what is not. This will depend on several factors such as your previous experience with Yoga; your stage of pregnancy; your level of health, fitness, and flexibility. The regular practice of postures, relaxation, breathing, and meditation will help in no small way to prepare the body, mind, emotions, and psyche for the times of labor and birth, and as well, they will help fortify the family for the trying times to follow.
The physical benefits of the recommended asanas, work on opening up the whole pelvic area and give the body stamina. They relax past and present tensions to allow easier passage for the baby.
The yoga breathing techniques help with management of the emotional energy needed to sustain labor and teach one how to use the forces of birth for best advantage rather than to resist and fight. Pranayama is a tool to assist in going beyond the obvious physical discomforts of birthing and gain a better appreciation of the psycho-emotional processes.
Yoga Nidra during pregnancy helps to allay the future fears and past traumas of birthing. After the birth, Yoga Nidra will become a necessity when much sleep is lost, and the rest of one’s life has to be held together as well!
Meditation practice, if included, will help put you in touch with the nature of your baby before birth. The vibrations of Mantra create the deepest harmony between you and the unborn child. But it is not only beneficial for the mother to be practicing yoga, for if your partner joins in as well, but that also creates one meditative unit – all in tune with each other for the birth and the ongoing family life.
Yoga during pregnancy is, in fact, one of the most beautiful times that a woman can explore herself and discover the deepest truths about her existence. You can gain understanding about the nature of conception and creation; about sustaining and nurturing; about revealing and delivering. It’s like a 9-month Meditation on life itself – if you choose to make it so. Practicing Yoga during pregnancy, apart from the obvious physical benefits, gives you the added concept of the whole process becoming one of spiritual midwifery, where you as the mother, are also guiding an emerging Buddha into the world. Yoga as a spiritual science is capable of accelerating the evolution of an individual – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This will happen to both you and the child whether you are aware of it or not. As you are giving the baby the best possible start to life by forging an intrauterine bond with Yoga, you are helping to raise the consciousness not just of one or two individuals, but of the whole planet itself.