Tag Archives: motherhood

Yoga in the first trimester

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Yoga in Pregnancy and Beyond – The First Trimester

 

In this article, we will focus on the first trimester. Later articles will look at the second, third and fourth trimesters, and tackle other common ailments and issues encountered in pregnancy.

This is a remarkable and potentially transformative time in a woman’s life. Alongside the visible signs of the changes in a woman’s body, she experiences a heady cocktail of oestrogen, progesterone, relaxin, oxytocin, endorphins and prolactin.

Essential for maintaining pregnancy and stimulating the healthy development of the baby, progesterone and oestrogen play numerous other roles in pregnancy. However, these essential hormones are often responsible for mood swings and morning sickness; which often ease as mothers enter the second trimester. Sufficient rest in the first trimester can help alleviate these usually harmless complaints.

Relaxin softens the muscles, ligaments and joints in preparation for birth. This softening creates increased flexibility in the hips and pelvis: over-stretching can result in joint instability, leading to discomfort and pain. The softening also affects other areas of the body. Caution is advised against over-extending in all poses; encourage gentle stretching with an emphasis on creating stability in stillness, freedom and ease in movement.

Some of the simplest practices can be the most powerful at a time when many women are beginning to examine their emotional and spiritual health in more depth, even as they encounter new physical challenges.

  • Simple breath awareness: you no doubt have your own version of this practice and as long as there is no breath retention, you can do this. Simply watching our breath can encourage deeper, slower, more rhythmic breathing resulting in better oxygenation, more efficient digestion as a result of the massaging effect of the movement of the diaphragm, and steadying of the heart rate. Breath awareness may also help women to navigate bouts of nausea and allow them to feel refreshed after any vomiting
  • Nadi Sodhana Pranayama (no breath retention): this calming, balancing breath may enable women to manage mood swings with grace and can be safely practised throughout pregnancy;
  • Tiryaka Tadasana (swaying palm tree pose, no breath retention): women can remain on the soles of their feet or lift onto the toes if they feel adequately balanced – see pictures. Inhale to the centre line, exhale to lengthen and open one side of the body. The gentle stretch to the abdomen helps to lift the ribcage, creating length in the rectus abdominal muscles (so may also help prevent diastasis recti), and helping to alleviate heartburn and indigestion by reducing compression of the stomach;Tiryaki Tadasana PG
  • The Golden Triangle: assuming no other ailments, this enable a woman to maintain a stable, aligned pelvis throughout pregnancy. Even long standing practitioners are well-advised to ensure that in wide-leg poses, the space between their knees is no wider than the space from hip to knee, or elbow to fingertips – see pictures.
  • Deep relaxation: during the first trimester, most mothers will still be comfortable resting supine, and may safely do so. Use your own tried and tested relaxations, explore the Yoga Nidra Network for free downloads or visit your own trusted source;
  • Many women will begin to explore their emotional and spiritual landscapes during pregnancy, I encourage you to create a list of pregnancy specific resources you can explore. I have included below a few websites and a poem to get you started. And I urge you to read Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin – more on her later in the series.

If you have a particular question about yoga for pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to post it in the comments section or get in touch directly.

Resources

positivebirthmovement.org

twincitiesmidwifery.wordpress.com

inamay.com

natalhypnotherapy.co.uk

Chant of the Pregnant Goddess
by Jana McCarthy (found at twincitiesmidwifery)
I am the mother of the moon
sister of the stars
child of the light in your eyes.
I am powerful.
The geometry of my shape shifts
from gently curved lines
to expanding circles:
earth, moon, sun.
I am powerful.
I am strong.
The tempo of my vibration quickens,
increasing from
butterfly wings, to floundering fish,
to beating drum,
erupting volcano,
the rhythm as old and constant as
the cycles of the sun
and the turn of the tides.

I am powerful.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.

I hold the hope of my ancestors
the knowledge of my time
the fate of my future.

I am powerful.
I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am mother.

OMx

Golden Triangle PG

 

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Whole Self Awareness

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This is a short guided meditation or relaxation, it can be a respite from your busy day or the quiet beginning to your asana practice when you arrive on your mat…Let it be what you need it to be!

This can be done seated or in Savasana. You are encouraged to release any concern about falling asleep if you lie down – after all, perhaps a little more sleep is what you most need…The practice may take you a few moments or more – take what time you can spare.  The idea is to connect to your body, your breath, your thoughts and emotions…This is about being able to use your awareness of what your body needs so that you can develop your personal practice accordingly…day to day, each time you come to sitting or to your mat…connect, acknowledge, practice…

Begin by settling yourself, allow yourself time to get comfortable…If lying in Savasana, check for a feeling of symmetry and balance around the centre line of your spine… If your lower back aches, consider supporting the knees over a bolster or rolled blanket…Let your palms rest facing the sky or place your hands softly in Yoni Mudra over your lower abdomen…

Yoni Mudra

Yoni Mudra

Bring awareness to your body….How does it feel right now? Let go of expectation about a bad back, a dodgy knee…Let your mind seek out the sensations that are present right now…Release any temptation to label them as good or bad…You are simply noticing what you feel and where you feel it…You can scan up or down through the body, or you might like to allow your mind to be drawn to the stronger sensations and work your way to the more subtle…

Slowly draw your attention from a general physical awareness to awareness of your breath…For now, simply watch, there is no need to change or consciously control your breathing in any way…Feel the physical movements and sensations of your breath…Rise and fall…Expansion and contraction…The ebb and flow of your breath…Feel its depth, its rhythm…

As you watch your breath, feel its natural flow and rhythm slow and deepen…Feel the rhythm become more wavelike in your body…Even watching the breath can allow us to breathe more freely and deeply…as we do so, our heart rate and blood pressure become slower and steadier…our diaphragm moves more deeply to massage the organs and lymph tissue in the abdomen and the pelvis, encouraging smooth digestion and improving pelvic health…As the diaphragm moves more deeply, our psoas muscles in the lower back join in the movement and can begin to receive better blood flow helping to release stiffness and aching…The adrenals sit on top of our kidneys and also tune into the deeper movement as they are connected to the movement of the diaphragm by the connective fascia of the body…so the kidneys are stimulated and massaged and the adrenals are soothed by healthy movement and blood flow, less likely now to react to small challenges as they respond to the soothing rhythm of your breath…Even simple breath awareness can immediately begin to deepen your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing…

rest is the hardest thing

Let your breath continue its soothing rhythm now…

Allow your mind to begin to notice the thoughts and emotions that arise…Each time you notice a thought or emotion, let go of it, notice the next exhalation and the next thought or emotion…Imagine that your thoughts and emotions are like butterflies, you notice them, but you do not try to catch them, simply watch them fluttering away…

Even the act of noticing you have been distracted and caught up in a thought or emotion is an act of mindfulness…Do not berate yourself for feeling distracted, simply find the next exhalation and being the process of observing again….

Let yourself rest…

When you are ready, you may like to take a few consciously deeper breaths and make some small movements in hands and feet to feel that your body is awake and that you are ready to return to your day or begin your practice.

OMx

Reasons to be thankful…

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Just a short one this…I may start a *Thankful Jar* but I may not…Journalling & the like are not strong points of mine…Critical thinking (of others yes, I do it too often I confess, but especially of myself) on the other hand – I’m a pro…

Still, I am drawn to the idea of a gratitude journal or a thankful jar, and whilst I have not yet mastered the art of writing daily in my journal, I do have a book of gratitudes that I write in sporadically (it was much more frequent when I had a dark cloud that followed me even in the sunshine because I needed to remind myself more than ever in those days)…Mostly, I write in it little things that my sons say or do, spoonerisms that make me smile, moments that I wish I could promise I will never, ever forget…It is my version of the Cloud, my back up disc, a place to store what my innate data banks could lose in the mists of time as my children create more moments to treasure…

So, no New Year’s Resolutions for me, I’m done with those…I’m not setting false promises and time induced goals…I am who I want to be, there will always be room for improvement, but I am imperfectly perfectly Lucy…I will keep making my sporadic journal entries about the moments when my heart soars and I wish I could videotape every beautiful moment with my sons…and I will keep wishing I had written more, captured more…But when I read it back, the essence will be what I treasure most…

This New Year’s Day, I awoke with one of my boys on each side of me…woken by NYE fireworks throughout the wee hours it seemed they had crawled in for comfort…four in a bed…our family bed…and my first thought was “How many more mornings will this happen?”…I know it will stop one day…My heart sank – my loving boys will become young men, grown men, move out, move on (and rightly so)…And then my youngest stirred, reached across me & found his brother’s hand…”Bill, I love you”…”I love you too, Joe” …”Happy New Year, Bill”…”Happy New Year, Joe”…

That’s why I am not making resolutions…well maybe just one…if my boys start the New Year with love in their hearts, I’m not getting it all wrong…I might even be getting it quite right…I’m raising my boys as my heart tells me I should…Lee and I walk hand in hand & make parenting mistakes together, and hand in hand we put them right (sometimes after a wordy exchange or a silent one) but when they lay their heads on their pillows they our children fall asleep knowing, feeling that we love them, and they know they love each other…we all feel loved in our home…And the best resolution I can make is to live my life with love, in love, for love…

All you need is love…

OMx

Waking up is hard to do…

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Some mornings are just tough…and there are days when dragging my sorry carcass out of bed feels like a mammoth task.. Today was one of those mornings…

Lackluster & feeling drab, crawling out from under the duvet was a big ask…But the school run beckoned & Joe waits for no (wo)man so I emerged reluctantly…

Not my brightest start but after a tearful moment after dropping Bill off, I had a big hug with Joe and he dragged me off on his latest adventure…amazing the transformation power of flinging yourself down a slide & climbing across rope bridges…we hit indoor play Krazy Kaves with a vengeance…the ducks will have to wait for a brighter day…and we’re heading for the outdoors in a little while anyway to hook up with friends in another park…fresh air in the gloomy grey is not completely off today’s menu but I did need to wake up…

It only took a little under four hours…Tomorrow I promise I’ll Salute the Sun when I rise…that’ll wake me up…

OMx

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Hard to explain…

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“Climbing is akin to love. It’s hard to explain; we endure pain for the joy that comes with discovering ourselves and the planet.”

CORY RICHARDS

I came across this quote in National Geographic, January 2013, and loved it.  It spoke to me about motherhood.

Motherhood is hard to explain.  “No one can prepare you…” is the refrain of new parents the world over.

And we do endure, we mothers: whether the physicalities of labour & birth, the mind-altering sleep-deprivation, the emotional turmoil of your child starting school (or not) or the anguish of anticipating adolescence as your little innocent grows…

And yet, with all that endurance come the most extraordinary joys…

We discover ourselves: the strength we never knew we had; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual; talents for story telling or creativity in crafts made from cereal boxes & masking tape; extreme multi-tasking: making a cup of tea, talking to a neurotic grandmother and breastfeeding the baby…all at the same time, or breastfeeding the newborn whilst changing the toddler’s soiled nappy one handed; being able to laugh so hard our bellies ache (split muscles and all) simultaneously as tears of frustration or exhaustion roll fat & wet down our cheeks to darken spots on our new t-shirt right next to the milk stains or sticky kiss marks; a tolerance for tedium…how many times can you tidy the same toys, wash the same clothes, hoover the same floor…

We discover our children: their open, expectant eyes, their wide smiles and mischievous grins, their tiny hands and chubby, perfect feet for nuzzling & kissing and pat-a-caking…their talent for bringing that warm fuzzy in the middle of the night even as you sigh at being woken *again*…they thrill you with their rolling over, their shaky first steps, their confident climb to the top of the slide in the play park…they bore deep into your heart as you watch the perfect peace creep over their faces as they slumber.

And our children lend us their eyes so that we rediscover our world.  Through our children, we see the wonder of each daisy, the fascination of the dandelion head waiting to be blown across the garden full of the promise of sunshine yellow flowers in your perfect lawn, they slow you down, they force you to take in the snails lazily tracing silvery threads across paving stones in the damp Autumn mornings, or to lift each stone in the garden and marvel at the teeming woodlouse colonies.  Children bring renewed innocence to our lives, fresh insight, a pristine magic that invites us to explore our planet afresh every day, to rekindle our enthusiasm for dinosaurs, matchbox cars, dolls, tea sets, to embrace the childhood that we thought was over and learn again how to forget the rules and play…how to eat an invisible meal & feel the juices of rainbow fruits dribbling down our chins and tingling sweet & delicious on our taste buds, the taste of imagination…our children feed our minds, our hearts, our souls and create the world for us all over again.

So when someone asks you what motherhood is like, remember what was said to you, but don’t give the game away, it is a gift to discover what delights our children bring, and we should cherish that blessing.  Smile, let your heart burst open wide at your own precious awareness of the colourful swirling chaos of motherhood, so that the one asking you feels that aura of magic bathing her, pulling her in, just don’t try to hard too explain…

OMx

Rainbow_swirl

Namaste

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The light in my heart greets the light in your heart…

I am starting this blog as part of exploring how I can integrate yoga more deeply into my daily life and my family’s life.  I want to explore how physical & meditative practices impact on my mothering, and how I can bring yoga philosophy into my mothering to enhance the joy of being a mother and to benefit my children as they navigate an increasingly complex & social-media flooded society.  Community is online as much as (if not more so) on our doorstep now, so here I am embracing that fact.

I am an ordinary mama – I have two beautiful boys who together sing the song of my heart & embody the light of my soul.  Extraordinary joy flows from the exquisite moments of being a mother; but the brightest sunshine casts the deepest shadows and so part of this exploration is keeping myself from feeling engulfed by the shadows.

Being a mother has brought me untold happiness, I truly feel blessed.  But it has also challenged me in ways I could never have imagined.      I do not want to focus on the negative, but instead on the positive, on the really deep-down heart warming, breath-taking beauty & wonder of being gifted with new souls to grow & nurture.

My hope is that as I work with yoga to heal myself, I will also discover deeper connections with my children and with my husband.  That we will all feel more connected, more unified, and that our sense of community will begin at home and ripple outwards gently.

Sharing it here, I am nervous, scared, even a little embarrassed – I can’t believe I can say anything anyone else would want to read, but you know what, that’s not really the point.  This is my journey, hand in hand with my children, my husband at my side.  Anyone else who wants to walk the path with us is welcome to come along for a while & see how it goes.

OM