my last 5 children (ages 4 - 14).
Whilst some of these phases of my life have arisen through circumstance, others have been through choice. All these different times have afforded me many different ways of experiencing motherhood. I have much understanding of what it is like for a woman to do it on her own. And whilst such times can be trying, tiring, lonely, dispiriting, 1 know that with the right attitude and some yoga methods, a single mother can proceed into the future with as much inspiration to achieve a quality upbringing for her children as any other woman.
Single pregnancy and motherhood can have its advantages and disadvantages. There is the unique opportunity to focus more intently on the needs of the baby. The downside of this can be that a mother becomes obsessive about her baby, developing an overly co-dependent relationship – as if the child has replaced the lost lover.
Singleness can also serve to strengthen the capabilities of the individual without the distractions of relationship politics. It is an opportunity to break old patterns and start afresh. There will be times of celebration and times of lament, and mostly days of just getting on with what needs doing.
For the single mother, keeping focus on what is rather than what is not is the key. On most days, keeping your energy up, keeping your spirits up, learning from and teaching your children, must all be addressed alone. Apart from the physical and emotional support of relatives and friends, here yoga can be your best companion. Using yoga sadhana as an anchor for day to day stability will best serve the growth of you and your baby.
Whilst her sexuality may at times feel stunted without a partner on the scene, the single woman still needs to keep in touch with her sexual being. Although it may be easier to just “switch off” from your lower body, and bury or suppress
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sexual thoughts, it is important to keep in touch with this area for a harmonious birth experience. In the event of sexual desire, such feelings should be honestly acknowledged and explored, and ways found for their most satisfactory outlet. The yogini may be able to sublimate it with her sadhana; others may prefer masturbation; or others may prefer a casual sexual partner. Either way, the full expression of sexuality for a single woman is only on hold, and whilst so, it must be respected and nurtured until there is a satisfactory partnership in which it can unfold.
Without the intimate lover most expecting mothers have, the single pregnant woman needs special support for her spirit. Whilst some of this will no doubt come from outside sources such as family and friends, she must also find that spiritual strength within herself. From all sources she must find reassurance about her ability to have a harmonious birth, and reassurance that she will turn out to be a perfectly good (albeit single) mother. Beyond the birth, she will need lots of practical advice and assistance, and will need to make continuing efforts at finding her wholeness – that is, a two-fold male / female relationship within herself. Rather than being trapped in, or reflecting back upon the break up, healing with meditation and yoga will assist in moving forward and in finding freedom from the past.
If she should ever lose her source of inspira-tion, a women needs to re-visit that inner calling to motherhood. Reflecting on the deepest purpose for her childbearing will help her to get through the times when she may fall into sadness or resentment of her aloneness. If that mother-child relationship is spiritually strong, the absence of any man in her life matters not at all. Through meditation she can know that she and her child have all they need to survive any break up, to go forward, and to thrive in their life.
Note: This section on bonding is included here at the end of the pregnancy chapter, rather than in the commonly understood sequence of events after the birth, because I consider bonding to be an element of the mother-child relationship which commences long before the birth and one which directly affects the experiences of late pregnancy, labour and the post-natal period.
Bonding is a topic which has only recently come into private consideration and public discussion. Only a generation ago, mothers did not even thinking about it – let alone need whole books, seminars, research studies or specialist counsellors on the topic. Nowadays though, we have both male and female experts expounding on the importance of bonding, the timing of bonding, the meaning of bonding, maternal bonding,