Mother As First Guru ( By Swami Gurupremananda Saraswati
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lower back has returned to normal. This can take up to 3 months for some women.
   If you gave birth during the night, or had a very long labour over several days leading to little sleep, your system may be out of sync for a while (like jet lag), so deep relaxation at the end of the day before bedtime - and again first thing in the morning - is good for restoring your internal time clock. Due to the radical changes in hormones, prior to, during and straight after the birth, Yoga Nidra is an effective way to help normalise the pituitary gland, as well as assisting in reducing any tendency towards depression.
   The other very effective methods of creating better energy levels are the yogic pranayamas. Full Yogic Breathing should be done several times daily from as soon after the birth as you can manage. As well as increasing oxygen levels, this technique assists in gently restoring abdominal tone. Full Yogic Breathing is a pre- requisite to Bhastrika Pranayama, a more powerful and effective breathing method for increasing energy levels, and one which you should be able to resume several weeks after the birth. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama should also be resumed soon after the birth to help balance energy and aid normalisation of pituitary function.
   All these things can even be done in or on the bed at any time which suits you. Often snatching a few minutes of yoga relaxation or breathing here and there will work wonders in getting you through the day. Once learned, these techniques can be drawn upon for combating tiredness.
   In combination with the yoga methods, it is also advisable to watch any tendency to heavy foods and poor eating habits. Although you must now "eat for two", overloading the digestive system close to bedtime, or frequent low grade snacking, are sure ways of feeling heavy the next day and having unmanageable energy levels. For a complete program which addresses this the programs in Chapter 9 - "Post-Natal Health".
   It is obviously difficult to separate the quantity and quality of mother's sleep from baby's sleep! Since the two are inextricably linked for many months, it is necessary to help this merry-go-round relationship by working on both sides of the coin simultaneously. It may not be obvious at first, but due to a baby's sensitivity to your own moods and energy levels, improving your quality of sleep will directly affect his.
   Broken sleep is a fact of life for the first few months after birth so it is essential that you find other ways to satisfy your needs for adequate rest. Couples sometimes try to share this loss of mother's sleep by using expressed or formula milk from a bottle in the night.


   But as previously discussed, it is not a wise thing to try to solve one problem (loss of sleep for the mother) with something of lesser value to the child (formula bottle feeding) potentially leading to other problems (the many downsides of non-breastfeeding) when the problem can be creatively solved in better ways.
   Given that nature has designed a broken sleep mechanism into the mothering process - and really, it is the mother's karma (if we are playing by nature's rules and not society's latest trends) - what then is the natural antidote to this sleep loss? The obvious conclusion is that daytime naps are the way if and when required. If you do not find time in each day, when your baby is asleep to catch up on your own sleep needs, then both you and the baby will definitely lose out. Gradually the effects of sleep deprivation will erode your abilities to the point of becoming physically drained, mentally incompetent and unpredictably moody. Some women happily take to the couch or their bed several times a day when they feel tired - and all with full purpose and no guilt. Others soldier on bravely, believing that daytime is only for "doing things", putting off catching up on sleep until the baby is old enough to sleep through, that is anywhere from 6 to18 months but can be longer. Whereas the former may provide some satisfaction, the latter is a sure fire attitude leading to problems later on.
   Rather than semi-conscious naps where you can often wake up feeling worse than before, Yoga Nidra is a much more potent form of body and mind relaxation and a 30 minute session once or twice a day is guaranteed to restore lost night time sleep, leaving you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. It far outstrips what could be achieved in a nap on the couch for the same time.
   In making the most of the sleeping times you do get at night, it is essential to keep to a reasonably early bedtime routine, for yourself and the baby's benefits. An earlyish dinner for everyone, some relaxation time with adults or other children, a shower, a breastfeed for the baby, a short time of meditation or reflection alone, and then asleep by 10 pm would be the ideal. This firstly requires letting go of any mindset of "doing some work" - be it of the house or the office type - after dinner; of not planning to go out, or have people come around who severely lengthen your evening. It may mean getting others in the household to take charge of other duties to allow you the space to create an unflustered evening. A short time for meditation just before sleep assists greatly in helping you get off to sleep quickly and deeply. And obviously, try to arrange things with your partner so that he doesn't come clomping into the

   
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The complete ‘Mother As First Guru’ Set also contains Book 2 + 2 audio cds. Book 2 relating to comprehensive Yoga Practices as well as the Audio Instructional practices (2 cd set) are only available with your purchase and is NOT available on the Reading Room.

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