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Pregnancy is a time for celebration. Yet it brings with it so much stress and exhaustion. The constant changes in the body coupled with the natural but unacceptable aches and pains can make for a taxing few months.
But it doesn’t have to be all demanding and tiring. With some discipline and effort, pregnancy can be made into a comfortable journey, one that is perhaps even fun. A good place to start would be a ten-minute pranayama routine everyday.
Pranayama helps ease symptoms of nausea and exhaustion. It is also a very good way to prepare for the impending birth, through labor or otherwise. Whichever way you ultimately end up giving birth, the pranayama done during pregnancy will stand you in good stead.
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Benefits of Regular Practice & Exercise
A steady and regular practice of pranayama during pregnancy can build prana or chi, as it is otherwise known. This prana or chi (translated as life-giving force) gets built up through the practice of pranayama and it helps in the whole process of giving birth or bringing to life. As a mother-to-be who has practiced much pranayama during her pregnancy, you can look forward to feeling powerful during labor, for example. The pain, though unmistakable, will be within your power to manage because of all the energy that the practice of pranayama will provide.
Asana can also be practiced about four times a week. It is not a bad idea to try and get in twenty minutes of asana practice every day, however. Asana during pregnancy is taught specifically to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region and below. I once taught a prenatal yoga course and one of the women, close to her due date, was diligent with asana. She walked into class one day (she was only days away from labor) saying her legs felt more powerful after each yoga session. The focus, therefore, is on building strength and energy for the final push. My prenatal yoga teacher insisted that I practice on a daily basis as long as it was possible.
The third aspect of the prenatal yoga routine is yoga nidra. Yoga nidra helps with the inability to fall asleep easily at night – a common malady during pregnancy. It helps ease some of the physical discomforts and pains associated with the growing belly. It also provides great comfort to a mind ruled by continuous hormonal changes. This practice could take anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes, depending on what the individual is looking for.
All these practices are best taught under the supervision of an experienced prenatal yoga instructor. Some of these practices, especially asana, may have to be done only in consultation with your doctor. If all is well and there is no fear of any complications whatever, then all three practices can be undertaken confidently, albeit with the help of a teacher only. Until such time that one is able and confident in doing these practices for oneself, it is advisable to rely on the instructions of a teacher.
Finally, none of these practices are going to take away the pain of labor, contrary to what many women believe. The pain is going to be a big part of the whole process of birthing. However, you have equipped yourself very well to deal with the pain. You work through it with strength and confidence as opposed to fear and weakness.
Other benefits of of the steady practice of yoga include the ability to alter your state of mind enough to give you everything you need at the most important moment. Moreover, your recovery after birth will be phenomenally quick. It only takes a few days before you feel your old self again (sleepless nights and busy days notwithstanding). Besides you would have helped your new baby tremendously while in womb itself. The practice of yoga, pranayama or meditation can have a huge positive impact on the growing brain and later even the personality of the baby.
It is never too late in the pregnancy to begin practicing yoga, especially the more meditative aspects of it. It’s better late than never as they say, and you will be glad you tried.
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Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Sw. Satyananda Saraswati
Yoga Nidra, by Sw. Satyananda Saraswathi