A little over ten years ago I was sitting in the waiting area of a basement yoga studio in North London anxiously anticipating my first pregnancy yoga class. Although I had ten years of yoga practice ‘under my belt’ already and was completing my teacher training, this seemed like a whole new world and, to be honest, I wasn’t too sure what to make of it.
The rest, as they say, is history, and here I am now still practicing and teaching many of the things I learned during my first pregnancy and the postnatal recovery time that followed. Have I ever gone back to ‘normal yoga’? Well, no, because frankly I have never gone back to ‘normal’ (whatever that means) and also, I discovered something exciting about my body in the process of having a baby – it’s FEMALE!
Now, that might sound obvious, but to be quite honest I had never really thought much about the feminine aspects of my body before pregnancy – and awkward reminders like my period were something I generally tried to avoid with the contraceptive pill – or just pretend it wasn’t happening.
Pregnancy, and the yoga practices I learned during my pregnancy, helped me see that my female body is pretty awesome – and giving birth helped me see my female body is pretty damn powerful. It was a game changer and although my kids are getting older now (10 and 6) I continue to do my yoga practice in a way that is respectful and kind to my female body – e.g. my wider pelvis, larger pelvic floor (with an extra hole), existence of my uterus and its monthly shape-shifting to name just a few obvious things that make me different from a man.
“Mother Nurture Yoga” is my name for the yoga practices I have used to look after my energy and wellbeing in the last ten years. Broadly speaking this includes deep relaxations, long exhalations, joint liberation and lots of stabilisation (physically and otherwise!) I discovered that I didn’t need stretching so much any more – my connective tissue was looser, my hormones were wilder and everything about life with my family was stretching me already. I craved containment and quietness, strength and stillness. I have rested a lot but weirdly also got stronger and fitter that I have ever been previously. I like to call this “Soft Power” and I have no explanation for it other than to look at the natural world around me and see that all of its power comes in very clear cycles of resting and growing – its just not ‘normal’ to always be making an effort!
I’m sharing all this more widely now via my quarterly workshops called ‘Being in the Cycles‘ and I continue to offer a weekly class on Sundays – Mother Nurture Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond – that is open to all women. You do not need to be pregnant to be deserving of nurture or to benefit from these practices!