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Yoga for Pregnancy

Because of the many subtle changes in the body, pregnancy can be a time of emotional vulnerability for many women, with cravings for strange foods, intense dreams, sudden depressions or tears without reason. Such feelings are not only exhausting but they can be of such intensity that they further disturb the harmony of the body. The child in the womb is protected from, but not impervious to the outside world, and is particularly sensitive to sound. The baby's heartbeat will jump at an unexpected speed, loud noise, and will react for the ringing of bells or the singing of lullabies. One of the most constant and dominant factors in the baby's uterine environment is the reassuring rhythm of the mother's heartbeat.

Today pediatricians and psychiatrists are also of the opinion that some qualities of personality may result from the specific environment of the child before birth. The chemical aspects of the uterine environment, particularly the correct proportions of all the necessary hormones are dependent on the health and emotional welfare of the mother. It is not now possible - and it may never be - to distinguish the effects of the pre birth experience from natural genetic inheritance. However, it is a matter of fact that the health and mental attitudes of the mother are reflected in the development of the child. Illness and psychological tension and stress in their mothers, definitely have an adverse effect on babies, before, as well as after birth.

There are many yogic relaxation techniques that can be used to minimize emotional stress and to create a harmonious environment for the coming child.

When a mother practices mantra japa (repetition of a mantra) she is adding another dimension to the baby's sensitivity to sound - a spiritual dimension that will evoke a resonance at the very core of the child's consciousness.

Mantra japa and dhyana allow a woman to enter the depths of her being where her consciousness merges with, and may exert a positive influence on, the consciousness of the growing child.

Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT)

As you lie in the Corpse pose, follow the instructions below. At first it may be easier to record them on a cassette and play it back to yourself. Read them slowly and pause for several seconds after each instruction. Later, you will be able to practice for several seconds after each instruction. Later, you will be able to practice without such aids and relaxation will become spontaneous. This sequence is also used in Yoga Nidra.

Either dictate or learn the following : 

  • Close your eyes and relax your body stage by stage, beginning from the toes. 

  • Feel a tingling in the tips of your toes and the roots of your toenails. 

  • Relax your toes, the soles of your feet, your ankles, all of your feet. 

  • Relax your calf muscles, your knees, your thighs, your buttocks. 

  • Relax all of your legs from your toes to buttocks. 

  • Inhale deeply and chant 'AH', feeling the vibrations in your abdomen travel down to your toes. 

  • Be aware of your abdomen and thorax. 

  • Feel the waves of relaxation as you exhale travel outward, feel a tingling in the tips of your fingers and the roots of your fingernails. 

  • Relax the muscles of your hands, arms, waist, back, and shoulders. 

  • Loosen your spine, vertebra by vertebra. 

  • Be aware of your chest. 

  • Inhale and chant 'OO', feeling the vibrations in your chest cavity spread down to your arms and fingers. 

  • Relax your throat and then face. 

  • Start with your chin. 

  • Now your lower jaw, your cheeks and cheek bones, relax your lips, keeping a beautiful smile on your face.

  • Relax your nose, the space between your eyebrows, eyes, forehead, ears, scalp, back of the head.

  • Inhale deeply and hum 'MM', feeling the vibration in your throat spread through your head. 

  • Now relax your entire body, relax, totally relax. 

  • Inhale and chant 'OM', feel the vibrations from your toes to your head, 

  • Imagine a vast ocean or sky, merge with the ocean or sky.

  • Dive deeper and deeper into the ocean of silence.

This article has been written by Dr. R. Nagarathna, Dean, Division of Yoga & Life-sciences, SVYASA
This article is published online courtesy
and Arogyadhama

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