A Chance to Practice

“Like any good couple they have their differences, mainly that while Yoga is a practice Birth most definitely is not.

Yoga let’s you try again. With this Birth there is no next time. The only time is now. Open. Now. Now let go— all at a moment’s notice.” Tina Lilly Love, Labor and Liberation

Well, while Tina is right about the overall birth of a particular baby, birth allows no do overs in that sense, I, however, would add this:

Yoga also teaches that this present moment is the only one that counts and that now is a great time to get started.

You will find many moments to practice DURING birth: I didn’t do so great with that contraction let’s move forward with the next and try again. I rocked that contraction let’s do the same or even better with the next. That’s not working any more let’s try this.

How Yoga Helps:

Yoga poses and practices such as meditation, concentration, breath work and visualization can be challenging. Yoga practice is physically and mentally challenging just like Childbirth.

Take the opportunity to practice NOW, perfecting your Yoga-Based Birth Skills while discomfort is relatively “painless” during Prenatal yoga class, on your mediation cushion, during Braxton-Hicks contractions, and on the toilet (elimination practice).

Do this by paying attention, look for the challenges, look for the suffering, what are you trying to avoid, does your attention wander, what are your feelings? Do you stay with the pose/practice or do you go elsewhere? With your mind or to another pose or to the bathroom?

These type of moments give you an opportunity for self-study (Svadhyaya), a Niyama (a practice that pertains to yourself), a chance to slow down, to be responsive—not reactive. To look.

Investigate… it is hard but take a seat and pay attention to your feelings…chances are excellent that you will soon identify similar patterns. Thoughts and feelings that are so familiar they feel like old and close friends.

Over thinking, rumination, obsessive thoughts, and looking outside ourselves all can lead to stress, anxiety and a misunderstanding of reality that leads to suffering. True in everyday life and especially true during labor.

Conveniently for pregnant women, my Prenatal Yoga classes allow you a chance to practice what you are trying to attain during birth.

Your Yoga practice is providing you with experience based opportunities. A chance to learn from your body, a chance to get to know yourself better. It takes time, it takes practice, it takes commitment. It is totally worth the effort.

PRACTICE:  Acknowledge your thoughts: Hey, I know you. Then shift focus back to the new positive way of being and doing. Small steps forward. The warm glow of satisfaction that comes from getting a fraction of an inch closer to your toes, a couples seconds more of balance, a few moments of a quiet mind, from sliding into to the downside of a contraction.

Meditation practice allows you a place to sit with heavy emotions, stress, and anxiety, a place where you can sense how these sensations physically sit in your body. The physical practice of Yoga provides a form of moving meditation.

Try this: Acknowledge a particular fear.

Fear is okay, but this time have the courage to look it in the eyes and go on with what you are doing. Taking positive action while fully acknowledging fear or pain will make you stronger every time. Courage comes through being afraid but doing it anyway. Whatever “it” is.

The physical sensations of labor are the agents of the birth process as they carry out the mission of birth. Yes they are powerful—it is a big mission and as such they will command all of your attention. Tina Lilly

And almost nothing gets your attention faster than pain. There is that word again. Birth is a BIG deal, it demands you pay attention to its needs. Unfortunately, pain usually brings its buddies, fear and anxiety along for the ride.

Yoga represents a chance to sit with discomfort, to look for what’s not working, what is limp, what is tense because this is where the opportunities lie, the possibility to move forward.

Fear and pain are fueled by your desire to get rid of them. Practices such as Yoga allow you to “look away” and not be so preoccupied by pain, fear or anxiety, to simply to feel and accept them, if you truly accept them then relaxation follows.

So instead of saying NO find a way to work with Birth even if it is just taking the first steps. The challenge isn’t over when you do manage to take those first steps, showing up and being consistent is even harder.  This is true whether I’m referring to showing up at class, during class or showing up for and meeting your birth experience head on, contractions, emotions, and circumstance.

So…

“What is needed for Labor are simple but powerful tools and techniques that will help you feel calm confident and at ease. Skills that will promote a mind-body connection that will positively and directly affect your ability to give birth optimally, all by getting your mind to work for you rather than against you.

This allows a woman in labor to give herself permission to go wherever she needs to go, controlling what she can control and letting go of what she cannot. It helps eliminate the fear of Birth. Practices like these are what will enable you to do what you need to do in order to bring your baby into this world positively, calmly, happily, and confidently.” Penny Simpkin The Birth Partner-I think.

Plan to master birth by making space, and looking at your experience with a healthy perspective and realistic optimism.

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