Those who have been practicing Yoga can safely adapt many techniques through applying the principle of ahimsa or non-violence and by accenting gentle exercise and moderation of all traditional practices. However, it is best to cease participation in general class work and to join a group of other expectant mothers so that the teacher can best guide you appropriately.
Together with other women you will learn how to keep your muscles in trim; how best to govern your dietary intake and to ensure good milk supply; how to relax in order to allow nature to do its work in the process of parturition; methods of maintaining good circulation and how to avoid stretch marks and other common problems relating to childbirth.
As inner hygiene is all-important, as is outer hygiene, special direction regarding health practices involves some special care and attention. This includes care of the skin in particular so that the kidneys do not suffer strain during the months of pregnancy and also to ensure that the skin can return to normal following the birth.
In addition to the physical practices and health concerns encompassed by Yoga teachings, the spiritual aspect dominates at this time; when a woman is seen to become a vehicle for an incoming new soul to enter the material world. And it is during this time that she is responsible for self disciplines that ensure her health of her body is one hundred percent, that her emotions are maintained at an equilibrium as far as possible, that her moods are directed towards a relaxed and a contented state and that her mind is attuned to the most positive and beautiful thoughts.
In this regard the practice of japa is balanced towards repetition of gentle words that encapsulate soothing, quiet vibrations and concepts. Her moods will affect her baby by creating different influences in the waters of her womb. She will have to remember that her calm state of mind will help to produce a child with a strong, calm nervous system. So she must use some restraint if she is provoked or stressed. She will know how to keep calm through employing the calming rhythmic breathing taught in Yoga.
Although many pregnant women now go to work and try to take all kinds of stress in their stride – it is not advisable for the health of a woman or the baby, to put herself under this sort of pressure. By tradition in most cultures of the world; a woman at such time is considered special, somewhat fragile and in need of as quiet a lifestyle as possible.
Modern women are not so aware of the subtle sacrifices that are an integral part of the motherhood role and many defy the traditions by continuing to ‘party’, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, have insufficient rest and in general seek to continue their usual pleasures and indulgences. But all habits that can harm the health of the mother also harm the developing baby. This is most strongly demonstrated by the fact that mothers who smoke produce babies with either brain or lungs affected, or even in severe cases, are born with cancer. There are special wards for these babies whose numbers are sadly too numerous.
Breathing exercises of Yoga help to increase good oxygen supply, to relax the nervous system, to encourage good digestion and assimilation of food, encouraging bowel function and helping maintain general vitality. Because the mother will be very aware of the importance of breathing, she will be even more interested in the baby’s first breath and if she is able to deliver a natural birth, will be conscious during this special time.
It is believed and for many women it has been their experience, to feel ‘closer to God’ at this time when they are enveloped in the beautiful protective web of energies which Nature uses to bless both mother and the incoming soul.
After the long period of gestation, when women bear all manner of inconvenience and discomfort, they are rewarded when they hold in their arms and put to the breast, a healthy and perfect baby and this is largely up to the thoughts and careful preparation of the mother.
It is likely that women who are prepared to practice health disciplines, who learn how to relax and who are familiar with the benefits of gentle Yoga exercises, will be able to deliver their babies naturally and so consciously experience the unique spiritual uplifting that follows.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Yoga [http://yoga-guideto.com/]