Yoga & Meditation During Pregnancy: to Connect & Cope
During my pregnancy, I made time once a week to do yoga and meditate. It was usually on a Saturday or Sunday, lasted about an hour, done either by myself, with my husband, or accompanied by a good friend. The beach was most often my studio, though I sometimes practiced in the mountains, on a grassy hill in a park, or simply in my apartment living room.
The location didn’t matter. What did matter was that I made the time to do it.
Whenever I moved and stretched and opened my body, I imagined the little life in my belly, tumbling in a glowing weightless suspension. I wondered what she sensed when I became a brave warrior, a balanced crow, a playful dog. Or when I let her hang out as I dipped her down toward the ground in child’s pose, and later reposing in savasana.
The time spent was good for us, obviously physically, but there was a lot more to it. When I moved and meditated, I could feel our connection growing, and I envisioned the energetic difference it was making on my baby as well.
Admittedly, there was part of me that wanted to bubble wrap myself while I was charged with carrying and protecting my little one. Such a magical, powerful, yet vulnerable time...but, of course, outside life was still happening. We all have jobs, relationships, family matters, money and other worries. Challenges may arise, missing the memo that, hey, I’m busy growing one or more humans here!
A few things that popped up for me included being sued (involving an auto collision), working a full time job with increasing responsibility, my father in law going missing, and to spice things up, I got chosen for jury duty on a gang related murder trial (they like to choose nurses, apparently). For real? Yup!
With all of that going on, I was fortunate to have had a great pregnancy. I’ve never heard of Epictetus, but I’m a big fan of his quote, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” While pregnant and living through all of the above, I ate what felt good (lots of burritos - with many Tums chasers - and milk shakes); was present for whatever presented itself, at work or at home; I played xylophone versions of some of my favorite tunes (and yes some classical too for balance hehe) for me and my baby via a gift from my hubby, Belly Buds; took frequent walks and breaks; and I did yoga. Every week. No matter where, no matter what.
By making the time to connect - which is a meaning of the Sanskrit word yoga - I felt that I was intentionally honoring myself and my baby. I also knew that I was protecting both of us in a way that bubble wrap could never do. How? Since, for the duration of her being in my belly we were inextricably linked to each other, what I felt surely affected her as well. In committing to that hour a week, I was caring for both of us; keeping my body healthy, preparing us for her entry into the outside world, and by helping to manage my stress.
My practice helped me cope with all the stuff that was happening. For instance, being sued. Everyday, I’d replay the collision I’d been a part of, my car having collided with a SUV at an intersection. Whenever I’d do a heart opening posture or during my closing chakra meditation, I would send the other driver - who blamed me for the incident - love. It also helped me find compassion for her. Consequently or not, the situation resolved without going to trial.
My work in the quality department of a hospice had become weightier during the time as we endured accreditation reviews and lost our director to “restructuring.” When my father in law went missing, I grappled with my own feelings of loss and held space for my husband as he processed his. The trial I participated in had me driving hours each day for a month to and from downtown Los Angeles, sitting and sifting through hours of testimony and evidence, and finally baring the weight of deciding a young man’s fate. There were also, of course, the usual concerns that many prospective parents feel, including how we would manage financially, whether we’d be good parents, to cloth diaper or not and how do those things even stay on, etc. etc. etc...........
My weekly yoga and meditation practice created a space in my life, a place I could be in, to connect with myself and my baby. It helped me be more grounded and centered when there was so much happening.
By that time, I had practiced yoga on and off for 15 years or so. Even so, I picked up a pregnancy yoga book to help keep me and my baby safe and give me ideas for building a personal practice.
Recently, a book called Bumps in Motion came out that I so wish I’d had! It includes yoga sequences and other contributions from experienced practitioners around the world. It has offerings on specific trimester challenges, preparing the pelvic floor (so needed!), deepening the connection between mom and baby during pregnancy and beyond, meditations, mandalas, and SO. MUCH. MORE. It was authored by Los Angeles based doula, childbirth educator, and yoga instructor we know, Patricia A. Anaya. Check out the book’s website for yourself. The list of international contributors is astounding, as are the contents. If you’re my friend and happen to be pregnant this holiday season, you can likely guess what you’re getting from me!
As you might have derived by now, yoga and meditation during my pregnancy were essential. I don’t know how I would’ve fared without them!
If you’re a mama-to-be, I wish you the best of pregnancies, and the healthiest (and easiest!) of birthing experiences, no matter what is happening in and around you at the time.
With So Much Love,
Lauren Stephanoff, MATR cushions & accessories co-founder