Pregnancy, Pelvic Floor and Breath
Camella Nair. ATRI-C, C_IAYT, Swami, Ayurvedic Health Educator
Camella will be teaching on Pregnancy, Pelvic Floor, and Breath at ATRI’s Sanibel FL conference Tuesday June 25th – 27th. Come and experience this!
The USA may be a leader of the Western world on many fronts, but life expectancy at birth is not one of those areas. (79.3% 2015.1) Over the past few decades I have taught hundreds of women in prenatal yoga, many of whom were referred by their doctor. What I have discovered is both sad and alarming as many women are tending to opt for medical intervention. People tend to, and are happy to train more for half marathons than child birth.
Yoga in pregnancy has been researched quite a bit and conclusions seem to indicate that it can be very beneficial to both mother and baby. (ref; 2-17)
In all honesty what amazes me most about specifically prenatal yoga classes, is the lack of ‘pre-existing’ yoginis (yoga practitioners) in prenatal classes! Building relationships with other women going through pregnancy is vital and can help release endorphins that help with stress and anxiousness. The practice should be different and not just certain poses for each trimester.
One of the phrases I like to get my students to think about is, “Just because I can, does not mean I should.” Some pregnant Yoga practitioners are missing an important life lesson if it becomes all about preserving a regular personal practice in spite of the many changes happening within the body. One thing we can be sure of is change and we need to be able to adapt to that change, be it pregnancy, life challenge or aging.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Moms-to-be should focus more on stability and strength, rather than endurance and flexibility. “(16)
I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said that “Youth is wasted on the young.” I came to yoga as a teenager with my mother in England and grew to be quite proud of the mastery that I gained over the years of the physical discipline known as Hatha Yoga. (balance of the sun and moon) This pales into insignificance to the wisdom that I hope I have gleaned through practice, discernment and Self-awareness. Yoga is not about what difficult poses you can accomplish, but rather mastery of whatever poses are accessible for you at any given phase within our life time.
The over mobile hip that served my ego during my most active yoga years is the one that is causing me related problems as this body ages. Namely pain and imbalance. I wish I had thought to have a long term strategy for my yoga practice before childbirth as this would have minimized the pain I have had over the past few months as my Si joint was sent out of whack. On a positive note, it did allow me lots of personal insight, but I would much rather have preferred to be wiser without the pain.
Without a doubt the one major influence of becoming more stable in mind and body has been the practice of pranayama or conscious breathing and energy control. Every mother instinctively knows that when her child falls and gets a ‘boo boo’, she automatically gets the child to slow down the breath. During pregnancy when insomnia can occur as the due date looms, alternate nostril breathing and other techniques can help, and have now been proven scientifically to increase nerve growth factor that kills cancer cells and helps to boost immunity as well as instill calmness.
Lowering stress and inflammation can be learned as life skills utilizing the system of yoga, and I am very happy to be sharing some of what scientists, yoga therapists and researchers have to say about pregnancy, pelvic floor health and breathing at the ATRI conferences in 2019.
One often thinks that the pelvic floor needs always to be toned, but it may be that it needs to relax, especially in a body that performs extreme exercise (including yoga) The breath can either engage or release the pelvic floor and so personal experience and inquiry is as usual at the heart of any conscious yoga practice.
The lowest part of the trunk has so much weight to bear as we function mostly on land, and a healthy pelvic floor is essential to avoid incontinence, sexual dysfunction and pain. As proprioception increases in the water, we can become perhaps more aware of the subtleties of the pelvic floor and the breath in that environment. One wheelchair student was very happy to report greater control from her Aqua Yoga Practice. Last week during an Aqua Yoga class, a very expectant mother (2 days before scheduled C-Section), attended and gained some relief in the buoyant field from lower back pain and to feel a sense of lightness and calm.
Men are not exempt from PF issues and can also gain great insight from exploring their pelvic floor.
Whether on land or in the water, it is never too late to begin educating ourselves in this important area.
Check out the online Prenatal course at www.prenatalkriyayoga.com
Camella Nair (Swami Nibhrtananda, ATRI-C, C-IAYT, Ayurvedic Health Educator), Author of Aqua Kriya Yoga and Prenatal Kriya Yoga.