Prenatal Yoga is beneficial to the expectant mother in many ways both physical and mental. However, the mental benefits can be even more powerful not only for a healthy pregnancy and easier birth, but as we face challenges as a parent.
Although we are all familiar with the act of breathing in our daily lives, yoga offers techniques to enhance breath in a way that will prepare the body for the process of labor and calm the mind in everyday obstacles. Breathing is an extremely important part of labor that helps relax the body and distract the mind from pain and strain. Release of the hormone oxytocin is required in order for labor to progress. However, strain in reaction to pain can inhibit its release, which can prolong the process of labor. Therefore, relaxation through breath can be one of the most crucial techniques to easing delivery.
One can fully experience the mental benefits by incorporating Pranayama into yoga practice. Pranayama is the extension of life force energy and one of the main tools to extend this life force energy is through breath. By applying the correct breathing technique, one can open a gateway to unlimited energy. If a yogi is new to pranayama, Ujjayi is an excellent starting point to unify breath and movement in Asana practice. Ujjayi pranayama is referred to as ‘victorious breath’ as it allows us to practice full deep breaths during the challenges of a physical practice. As ujjayi helps give us strength and focus in Asana practice, its benefits can be applied to any challenge faced in our lives.
The following steps can help to master Ujjayi breathing:
- Inhale through your nose, then exhale slowly through a wide-open mouth. Direct the out-going breath slowly across the back of your throat with a drawn-out HA sound.
- Repeat several times, then close your mouth.
- Now, as you both inhale and exhale through your nose, direct the breath again slowly across the back of your throat. Ideally, this will create, and you should hear, a soft hissing sound.
-Somer Lynn (Pre/Post Natal Course)