A couple of myths about Yoga and Motherhood
Updated: Aug 30, 2018
Becoming a mother is one of the most important, life changing experiences a woman will go through.
There’s enough hype, pressure and expectation out there about what makes a ‘good mother’. Let me dispel two of the myths that often do our heads in and hinder our ability to move from our hearts.
1 YOGA GUARANTEES YOU AN ‘EASY’ BIRTH
When I first started my teaching journey I remember a fellow teacher trainer saying that the only way to get through birth was ‘to train really hard.’ I wasn’t a mother then but that didn’t feel right or intuitive to me at all. This person was also ‘sans enfants’, yet her particular lineage (and fitness-oriented head teacher) promoted strong prenatal practices that included sit ups, leg pumps and sequences of extended holds in standing, squatting and lunging positions. Apparently this was to build mental stamina and physical endurance so you could “push your baby out!”, but in actuality it had nothing to do with that and felt more like a form of yogic torture than preparation for labour to me. This approach also completely disregarded the emotional and spiritual needs of the mother to be. I believed then, as I do now, that “breathing your baby down” would create a more peaceful and empowered experience for both mother and child.
Statistically I found it interesting to learn the majority of women categorised as ‘fitness-types’ actually attract an increased risk of birth intervention and associated trauma. This could perhaps be attributed to the fact that they have trained so hard and tightened their abdominals and genitals so much that when they actually need to be loose, juicy and soft ‘down there’, they automatically contract and force instead. For those of us in the know working with birthing energies, this is exactly the opposite to what you want to cultivate. You need to surrender, open and allow. Treating birth like an exercise and resisting what your body naturally wants to do will only increase your chances of ending up with a squished baby, a very bruised birth canal and most likely some interesting stitch work on your yoni. Not to mention the scars throughout your head and heart.
FACT: There is no such thing as an ‘easy’ birth. It’s just birth and it’s indiscriminate. Yoga certainly helps prepare you on all levels for the challenges ahead and builds self confidence and trust, but regardless of whether you practice yoga or not, the more you can connect into your breath, your heart and release any sense of holding on (or in), the more enjoyable the whole experience will be for you and your precious baby. And if you end up having to have an unplanned caesarean as sometimes happens, make peace with it as best you can and thank the goddess that the medical support is here in your lifetime to help. You are not a failure or less of a mother if you need help getting your baby out and no amount of asana is going to make one iota of difference if you can’t let yourself go and get into the tantric birth flow.
2 YOGIS MAKE CALMER MOTHERS
I was in a café recently listening to three women criticising their absent friend – who was an avid yogini by the sounds of it – for ‘coping perfectly’ with her newborn and the associated stresses. They thought she was full of (sh)it and faking all was rosy because she didn’t want to be seen as not perfect or failing in any way. I heard comments like “(She says) I just meditate and everything is awesome” or “Oh I’m so lucky I have the perfect baby, he sleeps all through the night and never cries, it must be all the breathing and yoga I did when I was pregnant” and the best one (I reckon) and one I’m sure you’ve heard before, “I’ve bounced right back. John and I were back in the saddle the day after I gave birth!” Cue the bullshit-cough. I couldn’t help but smile and reminisce about my own struggles and coping mechanisms, but I was the complete opposite, often screaming, crying and laughing hysterically down the phone to my best mate about what a terrible mother I thought I was and that I would give my right nipple for just one good night’s sleep!!
And as far as sex was concerned, that was at the bottom of my priority list for months lol. Unless you have been blessed with a super-yoni or had ingested enough pain killers to kill a small mammal after giving birth vaginally, I think most of us who have birthed our children that way, will agree this confession was a complete load of bollocks.
FACT: Yogis are human too. I would suggest if anything – because of their heightened connection to their emotions and bodies – they feel more deeply and intensely than someone who isn’t as in tune with themselves. I fell apart regularly in the first few months of motherhood and my abode was a bombsite most days because I was so buggered from the incessant rounds of feeding, burping, bathing and changing nappies, I didn’t give a toss if the laundry wasn’t folded or if the dishes were dirty. I think I washed my hair once a week if I was lucky and lived in my Ugg boots and track pants because there were more important things to take care of. When I teach my young mums nowadays I always reiterate the necessity to be real, to ask for help and to surrender into vulnerability. I implore them to resist putting on that ‘brave, fake face’ and soldiering on because that doesn’t serve you or your family and besides, everyone can see through you and your greasy hair anyway!
Motherhood, Parenthood – is hard work, so regardless whether you’re a yogini or not it’s all about knowing your limitations and your gifts and making time to breathe into and through each MOTHERHOOD moment with as much compassion, integrity and unconditional love as you can muster.
Get out of your head and into your heart and all will (eventually) flow!