Updated: Apr 2
The sacred task of carrying life into the world is not easily recognised as a joyful task as the constant challenges of daily stress harmfully distract us from the natural ways a mother should be nurturing herself and her unborn baby inside. Many have found that Yoga asana and daily Ayurvedic practises are areas one can consciously stay centred and calm throughout pregnancy well into motherhood. Whether you are new to yoga or Ayurveda you can find a deeper intuition within your body and a connection with your baby which will enrich both of your experience as you go on this mystical journey together called new life.
At first, I was apprehensive when we found out we were pregnant with our third child, it had been ten years since the second pregnancy already. Finding my way through any doubt and fear was the first challenge of motherhood and allowing myself to choose to love and surrender to all the changes. And allow for the support of my partner to nurture us was an important step. I became confident and curious, I wanted to be informed even more about how this could be a conscious pregnancy amongst all my other daily duties and needs.
I have been practising yoga for over two decades now and throughout my first pregnancy, enjoyed watching how my asana practise changed into something more explorative and personalised. Steady, slow and gentle are my new mantras as I practise with care. Now with this pregnancy, there is even more awareness as to where the prana needs to flow. Any jerky movements are felt as de-stabilizing for the joints as the hormone relaxin (present in the body since the second trimester), the need to keep awareness on the edge of stretches increases. The pelvis area is especially sensitive to overstretching and you want to find a balance in which you take care to not cause pain by stretching but to find a place of tender opening.
During the fifth month of pregnancy and beyond the baby begins to orientate themselves in the uterus space and likes to find a comfortable position as the mother moves (1). As the weight of the third trimester seems to be felt in the hips and general shortness of breath, allow yourself to slow down the pace considerably. Which can be helped by the loving husband who is ready to be a supportive partner or enlist the help of loved ones around you two to take some grocery shopping errands off your hands so you can nest into a more internal way of being.
In my previous pregnancies, they have all had subtle differences which I would like to reflect on, I experienced Pitta (overactive) imbalances, I have noticed there have been Vata imbalances (a lot of movement both in myself and baby, insomnia, aches and pains) with our girls. So this encouraged me to address imbalances in pregnancy which I hope will be helpful to Yogi mothers to be in equanimity, gentleness with themselves and unperturbed by the many changes. Every story is different and you may find you can relate to more than one of these imbalances, this is not devastating news. It is an honour for you to feel and take notice of the changes as they occur in your physical, emotional, spiritual body. That is the next step to transforming challenges into life-saving ripples of bliss for you and your baby.
Pranic and Doshic Stages in Pregnancy
Prana is the subtle essence which governs the intelligence of functions in the living body. Its seat is in the heart but it governs the head, all vital organs and the way in which we express this intelligence. During pregnancy, we want to have as much Prana and Ojas (vital force) available to the womb and fetus and the least amount of imbalances. It is all about nourishing you and the baby, in the most balancing way for your dosha, because if you are in balance then no excess of the dosha can go to the baby and cause problems such as illness.
Vata dosha, Prana Vayu and Samana Vayu govern the powerful transformation during the first trimester of pregnancy. Prana Vayu (inward and downward current or wind) shapes the body, You will have greater access to experience the Samana Vayu (metabolising quality of life force) if you are eating the proper diet for your dosha, exercise regularly and have your lifestyle in check. This fiery domain which connects Anahata (heart centre) and Manipura (solar plexus) chakras of Samana Vayu is the powerhouse station of vibrant energy which gathers absorbed breath, food, and mental perception and processes it, to then transform the information into all aspects of your life. When blocked because of the factors mentioned in the above sentence, one will experience morning sickness and vomiting.
The Prana Vayu (upward current) needs to be redirected downwards gently into Apana Vayu (downward and outward moving current) and to the middle breath Samana Vayu which is active at the navel region. This is where the soul enters this world through the mother’s navel centre and receives its nourishment. After we are born, this area continues to be paramount in maintaining health and wellbeing by accessing our Prana shakti (2). Prana shakti is that refined force that transforms and expands us further in our spiritual practises. Pranayama which is gentle such as alternate nostril breathing will help benefit your morning sickness and help to cleanse and connect you to your centre.
Vata imbalances in Pregnancy
Vata when out of balance will make your pregnancy feel overwhelming and exhausting to you. Following a vata balancing, diet and lifestyle would bring back the joy of this incredible experience and decrease aches in the body. Find the time to pause after meals and make sure that you are eating good oils in your diets such as nuts, seeds and olive oil, ghee or coconut oil at every meal or latte time. Make a warming nut milk or goat milk before bedtime can make you feel nourished and grounded before bed. If you are having difficulties sleeping at bedtime, a bedtime routine is needing in which you make a foot massage with sesame oil. Write a journal and list all that is going right and currently good in your present situation. Even if it is a small thing that you managed to eat three hot meals that day, or that you felt your baby move and feel their spirit. Use a yoga Nidra sequence for expecting mothers to meditate before bed is the best treat you can give you and your baby. This releases any anxieties you may be experiencing and helps you to feel relaxed and calm.
Pitta imbalances in Pregnancy
If you find yourself overly enthused about the pregnancy and already finished the nursery ;) have the first year of toys (before the baby is born) or with inflammation in places, this is the pitta expression of pregnancy. Pitta dosha can make you feel like there is nothing those around you can do right, no matter how hard they try. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders whilst you keep yourself busy with the external high achievements who cannot “take time off”. Although hormonal changes are part and parcel of pregnancy excessive bursts of anger are often part of the pitta imbalance.
When pitta dosha is out of balance you need to pay attention to nature and taking yourself out for walks daily come rain or shine and disconnect. Seeing how vast and precious nature is a reminder that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and we don’t have to carry this, the universe supports us at every step. Make sure to find the activities which bring you the most joy and happiness. Find out what natural smells connect with your soul and how they make you feel inside. Take yourself to the places you want to go and enjoy time with friends that make you smile and laugh. Don’t forget everything that you are experiencing, your baby is too, so a happy mother means a happy baby! It is your duty to make yourself happy at this time and destress your life. Meditation is the best tool to cultivate deep listening to your core intelligence and what is good in your life and ever unchanging. Take time for rest with relaxing massages, this will help to restore your mind and keep a calm heart.
Kapha Imbalances in Pregnancy
Kapha has an important role in pregnancy as it is what creates structure and builds the cells of a growing fetus, leading into a full weight baby. Ojas is the subtle essence of Kapha and the final product of digestion. An aggravation of Kapha displaces ojas, if this is ignored it creates Kapha related disorders like diabetes, excessive elasticity of joins and numbness of limbs.
Usually, mothers can feel Kapha related imbalances as sluggishness, adding to slowing down at the later stages in pregnancy. Being aware of diet and lifestyle are the best active way to counterbalance this. Find options to keep raising your heart rate and breathing deeply by dancing, swimming, yoga or daily walking for 20 - 30 minutes.
It’s been shown in studies that babies do favour sweet flavours in the amniotic fluid by opening and closing its mouth to swallow (1). But this is the time to show caution to excessive sweet tastes, as high blood sugar levels are not good for your baby or yourself. The rate of gestational diabetes is 16 out of 100 women in the UK and puts your child at risk of type 2 diabetes (3) as your body struggles to produce enough insulin. Eat more slow-releasing sugars from carbohydrates like GF oats, wholegrain, chia, flax, seeds, wholegrain bread and basmati rice, couscous, pasta and quinoa, whole fruits and dried fruits eaten with nuts and seeds. These foods are all going to provide you with both the right quality sugars and a way to avoid spiking your insulin levels.
Even though we are growing bigger we need to remember how important it is to grow in pregnancy, so that you can grow others. You are feeding the baby, emotionally and physically so more than ever it's important to make sure the diet is nutritious, high in fats as a good source of fuel. The fruit can be balanced out with nut butter, fish oil or algae oil, ghee, a wide range of veggies, will keep you nourished well so bones and nerve tissue grow in the fetus, you need good fats. Fats also are needed for good hormone health, many hormones are fat-soluble. Fat stores good things, as well as bad things like toxins. Fats keep everything flowing in the digestive tract as well as keeping joints lubricated and organs protected.
According to Ayurveda the practice of yoga, the spiritual science of life is a preventative measure ensuring the stability of mind-body. Moving with awareness benefits both you and your unborn baby as the senses develop in the fetus throughout the entire time of pregnancy. Postures that focus more on balancing, opening gently the spine, sides and pelvis, and postures which help focus on the pranic current and breathing. Yoga, when done correctly, brings a natural state of tranquillity and balance as it works on the neurohormones and the metabolism, improving endocrine metabolism (4) and treatment of stress.
Table pose (Bharmanasana) with its water and Earth quality asana is a wonderful place to start on hands and knees and you can sequence this into a balancing table pose Dandayamana Bharmanasana opposite leg and hand extends upwards in line with the truck of the body and return back to all fours after the breath is exhaled. This is a lifting and aligning posture for your core, and a wonderful way to focus in on breath whilst keeping your gaze down between the hands. Next, move into the downward facing dog with a wide feet position and walk the hands back into mountain pose for four deep grounding breaths. Standing on the left foot, come into Tree pose (Vrksasana), and breath deeply into our navel space to feel centred and ground with the foot into the floor. ( If you find this is painful in the pelvic region then do not practise this posture.) Ground both feet in mountain pose for four more deep breaths, awaken the arms alone, tracing the shape of the sun, cycle the arms in sun salutation holding the exhale when hands reach the heart centre.
Repeat the tree pose on the right foot whilst remaining connected to your core by holding the navel down to the pelvic floor. Or skip this if there is a pain in the pelvis. Then the transition from mountain pose into walking the hands forward to the downward-facing dog gives your baby a chance to feel gravity in a different way, make sure you stay in connection with your navel integrity here.
Begin the cycle again.
If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda diet and lifestyle for Pregnancy to grow a healthy happy baby and feel supported during pregnancy contact Amrita for coaching. A free evolutionary discovery call is available for anyone who would love to connect about their health and happiness, contact here.
(1) Deepak Chopra - Magical Beginnings Enchanted Lives, A guide to pregnancy and childbirth
(4) Vasant Lad - Ayurveda, The science of self-healing.