You have two children, can you share your birth experiences and how yoga can help prepare women for birth?
My children were born 17 years apart and so they were very different experiences. There is one thing which underlies both and that is I deeply trusted my body and that it knew what it needed to do. I had little fear about birth and I am very grateful for that.
I was 21 when I had my first child 19 years ago and I knew from the start I wanted a home birth. I attended Satyananda yoga classes throughout my pregnancy and practiced visualisation around the birth itself and with my partner. I had an amazing home water birth and produced a healthy baby girl.
My next pregnancy was 17 years later and as a woman approaching 40 I found it to be quite a different experience. I had sacroiliac joint pain and I suffered painful pubic symphisitis throughout the pregnancy. As a result, my yoga practice was less physical and more focused on mindfulness. I practiced yoga nidra every day and my daily mantra was “We are going to have a beautiful four hour birth.” My baby came in three hours in another blissful water birth experience.
I love sharing my story because many women are exposed to too much fear. I hear women talking about their bad birth experiences in way that they seem to wear it as a badge of honour and I would really like to break that cycle.
I am very interested in mindfulness and the importance of this during pregnancy. Whilst it is very important to prepare the body for birth, I always tell my students that your body already knows what to do. It is your mind that will get in the way of your body. Make friends with your mind!
And what about new motherhood? How can yoga support women after birth?
All mamas go through this delicious early period where all else seems to fall away and each moment is one of witnessing the wonderment of a new baby. During this period our own needs are generally put on the backburner as we tend to the needs of a caring full time for a new child.
I too went through this same stage when I had my daughter, Willow, 3 years ago. Having her late in life (I was almost 40 when she was born) whilst nursing some health challenges meant that I couldn’t afford to totally neglect my need for Self Care; and so the journey and juggle began of being the mama I wanted to be and making sure to nurture myself so that I avoided an end result of exhaustion and depletion.
So how can a new mama balance the need for being totally present for her baby and honour her own needs too? I have found tools like Restorative Yoga, Yoga Nidra, and working mindfully with the breath to be very helpful in creating a beautiful balance in a way that didn’t leave me feeling ‘guilty’ and this is what I recommend to the women I work with and this what we cover in detail in our Bliss Baby Yoga Teacher Trainings.
What advice do you have for someone contemplating specialising in prenatal and postnatal yoga?
To succeed as a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher you must have passion.
It is important to be passionate about working with women and sharing such a sacred space with them. Most women are on this journey for the first time and will need as much support throughout the pregnancy as they do beyond.
Postnatal and Mums and Bubs classes are more than just yoga classes. They are an opportunity for new mothers to connect with other new mums and it provides them with a safe space to share their experiences.
If this is your passion then go for you it…you won’t look back!
Join Star and the Bliss Baby Yoga team of expert women’s health yoga teachers and follow your passion to train to be a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher this August. More info here.