Being pregnant and practicing yoga was this great affirmation of what I had been teaching all along, but this time I knew it from the inside out.
My first spiritual teacher was an old Dutch woman at the Sivananda Center in South Africa who taught me Yoga Nidra and meditation when I was 18. Here is a pic of me during that trip where I’m getting blessings from a Hanuman Sadhu.
Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping where one settles into a profound relaxation. My teacher guided us by using a wide range of images to take us deeper into our bodies and profound states of relaxation. This was my first introduction to the powerful connection guided imagery had on my mind and body.
There is an interesting part in all of us that is able to harness our minds and awareness to imagine what a certain experience would be like, even if we haven’t experienced it directly. I would imagine myself into different states of consciousness. I would imagine myself into blissful states of peace. I would imagine myself connected to oneness. Yoga Nidra was strengthening my imaginative mind.
Working as a doula and prenatal teacher I could imagine, as I had witnessed many births and had taught many pregnant women, what it must have felt like to practice with a big belly and also to birth a baby, but of course I hadn’t experienced it yet. There is a concept in psychology called induced transference, where a therapist can pick up on what their client is feeling even if it is not verbally expressed. This requires the therapist to be present with a certain level of openness and awareness. When I witnessed births or taught pregnant woman, somewhere between my imagination and empathy I felt I could connect to what they were experiencing. I felt my body knew what their body was feeling like. Perhaps this kind of induced transference is the part in all of us that is linked to humanity without boundary and projection but actually opening up a field of oneness between ourselves and other. I wonder if this is the part of imagination that is actually real?
I teach the Pre-Natal trainings at Yogamaya and I share inspiring images and videos I have gathered of women giving birth. At one point in my own labor, I recalled one of these images. What was once just an image that I loved became a strength I could draw from. I used my imagination to get through the now real experience of birthing. There we were, this woman on YouTube and me, across time and space, together helping me birth.
I love teaching prenatal yoga teacher training because not only do we learn about the technical aspects of each trimester and the anatomy of birth, but we also tap into the collective consciousness of the Great Mother. There is never a dry eye in the room when we watch birth videos. Why? Because we can all feel the mystery and power of the birthing women. We can all appreciate the awe and wonder of the newborn babe making her way into this world. We can feel in our bodies something in this woman’s experience and the specialness of this common but magical moment. There is something about birth that just touches the heart in a unique way if we allow it.
Teaching prenatal yoga is a special kind of gift that we can give blossoming mothers. Pregnancy is the great permission giver. You have to allow yourself to move and feel in a different way. You are not the same as before, you are watching yourself transform. As my teacher taught me all those years back in Yoga Nidra to concentrate on my body in a specific way, so too does a birthing mother have to use her awareness to move through birth creatively. Being in a supportive environment that allows this is crucial to an empowering experience. Yoga sets you up for birth, which requires the same level of attentiveness and mindfulness we find in yoga class. As teachers we can hold this special space for her to go within, just like my Mataji did for me many years ago.
Register for Prenatal Training here.