I was recently asked by one of the pregnant students after class 'so how does yoga help with our birth exactly?' I have to say that I was totally taken aback, in each of our prenatal yoga classes I'll often point out why we're doing what we're doing and what the benefit might be for pregnancy or labour so I was so surprised to get asked this question - but I realise that perhaps its not always as obvious as it may seem!?
Having taught prenatal yoga for more than a decade now, I guess I take for granted that not everyone fully understands how a yoga class designed specifically for pregnant women can be of benefit for birth as well as pregnancy!
When it comes to labouring and giving birth (ANY birth), the mind-body connection is PARAMOUNT! A prenatal yoga class can help women to access deep reserves of emotional strength and resilience that can be put to good use not just during contractions but for being present and anchored in some of the challenges that are likely to come up throughout your labour and giving birth to a baby.
Numerous research articles have connected "self-efficacy" (the level of confidence a woman has in her ability to perform a task) with easier and more satisfying labour and birth outcomes. A 2009 study conducted in Taiwan directly connected regular prenatal yoga practice with the high self-efficacy that contributes to smoother births. According to Adam Romoff, M.D., an Ob-Gyn from New York City, "any kind of learned behaviour of relaxation, breathing or concentrating on a focal point can help."
Research also tells us that it can take more than TWO months to form a new habit - of course this is dependent on the individual, but it's one of the reasons why we encourage pregnant students to continue PREGNANCY YOGA throughout their pregnancy, while it may sound like a sales pitch - trust me, it's not - if you're coming to yoga in the hopes of a better birth then you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is it can take anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behaviour into your life — it's called LABOUR because it's hard work, so you want to plan and prepare accordingly; these classes build stamina and strength, adapting as your body changes and our baby grows - the beauty of this practice is it reminds us just how capable and adaptable our body truly is. The more we prepare and practice during our pregnancy, the better equipped we are to handle some of the inevitable curve balls that can sometimes come our way at any point in the process.
Does all this prenatal yoga guarantee you the perfect birth? Nope. Absolutely not (is there even such a thing?!). But rest assured that this yoga will teach you that whatever happens - you'll have the resources to dig deep and fully surrender to whatever unfolds, regardless of how your baby is born. This POWER is the greatest gift you can give yourself. And you'll only find it within. ✨
Sara Evans is a Senior Yoga Teacher with a special interest in Prenatal, Postnatal and Yoga for Women. She was a lover of yoga long before her two children came along; her personal journey into motherhood through yoga was the catalyst to her becoming a teacher of yoga in 2009. Sara is inspired to empower other women through yoga. In 2010, BLOOM YOGA was born, offering small boutique style classes in her local community halls. Now a permanent yoga studio in Perth's Northern Suburbs since 2012, Sara has firmly established herself as one of Perth's most experienced and knowledgable yoga teachers in Pregnancy Yoga, as well as pioneering some of the first ever Mums and Bubs specific yoga classes. She has gained notoriety and recommendations from local midwives, doulas, women's health physiotherapists, chiropractors and obstetricians as well as many returning mother's in the Northern Suburbs and beyond!
Find out more about Bloom's Yoga Classes for pregnancy, birth and baby at www.bloomyoga.com.au
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