I am a self-admitted “yoga junkie.” Or at least I like to think that I am. Throughout the past 15 or so years I’ve tried pretty much all of the yoga that is out there. So when I found out I was pregnant, the first thing I did (after making my husband deaf with screams of joy) was to check out pre-natal yoga options in Texas (where I was living at the time).
I like to say that I stumbled into the secret world of pre-natal yoga, but in fact it was a purposeful stumble and one of the best purposeful stumbles of my life (besides the obvious “marrying my best friend” which wasn’t really a stumble, it was more like a jumping-out-of-a-plane-with-a-parachute kind of exhilarating thing). Oops. Tangent. So all that to say, that even though we were on a pretty tight budget, I allowed myself a couple “pregnancy splurges” and yoga was one of them.
Before class I was excited and nervous at the prospect of returning to yoga. You see, I had taken a 4 year hiatus (since we previously lived in a town whose yoga options were…sparse. It felt good to get my yoga on. It was an added bonus to be in a room of 20 preggo ladies in varying stages of pregnancy. Some were at 15 weeks and still had that wide eyed look on their face as if to say “I’m only here cause I don’t really believe it’s actually happening. I’m actually pregnant!” others were 40 weeks and the robustness of their bellies just screamed “baby needs out now!” I was somewhere in between; co-workers had emerged past the point of wondering if I was just gaining weight and getting a little pudge (total awkward moment when newly pregnant, by the way).
Back to class. So I was soaking in every yoga filled, peaceful moment. Some things you would have heard in the class were as follows: -”Has anyone read ‘Birthing From Within’?” I was wondering if I was missing something? I never thought it could happen any other way…I made a mental note to add it to the library list.)
-”Breathe more deeply now and take a moment to be in awe of yourself” (Honestly I almost burst out in laughter but managed to contain myself, I had never thought about being in awe of myself. I had thought about being in awe of leaves as they change colors, or the ocean’s mighty tide, but never myself. Now that I’m on the other side of birth, I am for sure in awe of myself and you will too!)
There was a bit of chanting in this class and then there were the mantras. We were to recite these for 3 minutes. We were told what we were saying (in Sanskrit), something to the effect of “Beauty is within”. It was curious to me that that was our mantra, because it seemed like both beauty and birthing might both be co-habitating “within.” The purpose of the mantra is to regulate breathing and to focus. That was one of the most helpful parts of the pre-natal yoga class when it came to actual labor. I thought my mantra might be “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!” (in Sanskrit of course so hubby wouldn’t catch on) but in reality, I was so focused on focusing during my labor that I didn’t even use a mantra.
Our “yoga sansei” (just made that up) told us a story about a woman giving birth at home with a doula. Clearly at home there are no drugs. So the woman started using her mantra which was “epidural epidural epidural.” She used this for several hours during labor. Afterward she joked that the “epidural” got her through. Whatever works I tell you! The moral of this yogic story is that if you’re pregnant or even just had your baby, consider taking some yoga classes. I do attribute a wonderful labor and delivery to the focus, determination and flexibility that I had during labor (both in mind and body) to get that baby out. Go ahead and splurge a little, sign up for yoga. No matter what though, take a sec and be in awe of yourself.