Various countries have their own relaxation techniques for pregnant women.Pavlovian School of Russia was inspired by our yogic methods for girls and pregnant women.
Hypnosis is one of the methods, which allows the subconscious mind to listen while the conscious mind takes rest and gets complete relaxation.
Reiki, (Pronounced Ray-Key), is an ancient Tibetan healing art rediscovered in Japan by Dr. Mikau Usui, Reiki is a Japanese word describing “Universal life force energy”. This method involves pranic healing.
Transcendental Meditation (T.M) reduces the metabolic rate, lowers stress, and also lowers the concentration of various biochemicals in the blood which are associated with stress, such as cortisol. TM produces a state of rest unique even to deep sleep or simple relaxation.
Acupuncture is another ancient method, which involves inserting hair-thin steel surgical needles into specific points in the body, which are known to take away the discomfort and pain and thus relax the body and mind.
Certain exercises recommended by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) help in relaxing the pregnant woman.
Many centers all over the world have taken research work in the field of yoga. Swamy Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (sVYASA) Bangalore has evolved a simple, useful module of basic yoga practices for mothers-to-be and extensive research is going on in one of the super speciality referral maternity hospital.
There is still a lot of apprehension and fear in the minds of doctors and obstetricians, much more than the pregnant women themselves; whether yoga exercises bring adverse effects, as there are many misconceptions about yoga. I must make it very clear here, that asanas are a very small part of the entire integrated practices. It is to calm down the mind and allay their fears and anxiety about their pregnancy and delivery that yoga emphasises. There are also cultural and social inhibitions in them, which need counseling, coaxing and motivating.
Upavista Konasana (Sitting with Legs Wide)
Sitting on the floor with legs wide apart is both comfortable and beneficial in pregnancy. The pelvis is well grounded and the diameters of the pelvic canal widen, encouraging a feeling of openness. Mobility of the hip joints increases while the muscles of the inner thighs and the backs of the legs lengthen and release. This posture stabilizes and anchors the pelvis and so enhances the release of tension along the spine and in the neck and shoulders.
Regular practice of this position will increase your confidence in being able to open your body to give birth and enhance your awareness of the way your pelvis is widening and loosening to make space for your baby. You can sit like this as often as you like or use this position for your breathing practice.
Start in the basic sitting position with your lower back supported by a wall or a corner. This posture can also be done sitting back-to-back with a partner or with your partner’s feet supporting the spine
Spread your legs as wide apart as possible without exceeding your natural limit. It is not important how wide you can open your legs but rather how comfortable you feel. Focus your awareness on your breathing and the way your body contacts the floor.
25 years old lady came to the maternity Hospital severely dejected and feeling hopeless. She had a very bad obstetrical history (BOH), having had four unexplained abortions, all in the 1st trimester. All the investigations that were done on her were completely normal.
Stress history showed that her in-laws were angry with her for not being able to give them a grand child; they threatened her that they would get their son married again. She was almost on the verge of committing suicide.
She went from Doctor to Doctor hoping to get an answer she received certain symptomatic treatment and she conceived again. She was told to have complete bed rest by the treating obstetrician. She was extremely anxious. She even hesitated to walk, hesitated to do any kind of work – she was referred to us for IAYT. We counseled her with at most patience and compassion. Gradually she was able to do a few loosening exercises and Pranayama, deep relaxation techniques and omkara meditation. Group practice made her feel more confident. She learnt to understand her in-laws and their emotions.
Gradually she learnt many of the asanas and came regularly to the yoga classes. Her husband helped her in every way – she had to be admitted 3 times before delivery for transfusion and intra venous fluids. She was investigated regularly ultrasound scans and clinical evaluation.
There was mild degree of IUGR; it was a normal delivery and the baby weighed 2.25Kg, very active and alert.
The whole family rejoiced so much and were very grateful to the obstetrician and Yoga teacher for giving her all the necessary encouragement and confident.
Viparita Karani (Modified)
It is also called as Relaxation, Feet Raised
- Begin by lying on the ground, legs raised, knees bent, feet against the wall, buttocks 30-40 cms away from it. Do not bring the thighs too near the abdomen, for this will block blood circulation in the groin region.
- Make sure the back, neck and head are in a straight line, with the chin slightly lowered in order to avoid arching the neck and tightening the cervical vertebrae.
- Keep the arms at a slight distance from the trunk, if possible with the palms if the hands turned upward, thus resting the shoulder blades properly on the ground.
- Before relaxing spend a few seconds straightening the shoulders as if to fix them to the ground.
Benefits : This is very beneficial to people with a bad posture, i.e. hollowed chest and stooping shoulders. To remedy an overly arched small of the back, press at the same time the lumbar region against the ground, a movement which is helped by the raised position of the feet. Having thus stretched the neck and the back, close the eyes and relax completely.
This relaxation exercise refreshes the back, small of the back, and legs. It helps decongest swollen ankles and feet, and relieves varicose veins.
Prone Asanas are avoided during 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”.
The Story of Abhimanyu
Abhimanyu, the great warrior was the son of Arjuna. Subhadra the sister of Lord Krishna was his mother. While she was taken to her mother’s place when she was pregnant, Lord Krishna told the story of the fighting skills of Arjuna to Subhadra. Abhimanyu still in the womb listened to Krishna’s narration and became the greatest hero who could enter the chakravyuha during the Mahabharatha war but could not come out as he had slept away during the latter part of the narration and was killed by the Kowravas.
The Story of Prahlada
The father of Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu, was a demonic dictator, a tyrant who suppressed all the natural freedom of his people, especially their freedom to worship. While carrying Prahlada, his mother left the court of her husband and passed her confinement in the ashram of the sage Narada who instructed her in the spiritual truths and the special glories of Lord Vishnu. Prahlada, though still in the womb, also shared in this initiation, and even in the face of his father’s fury, he was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu from early childhood. Prahlada’s devotion to Sri Hari endowed him with such inner strength that he became instrumental in the overthrow of his father’s tyranny and later attained the highest realization.
The Story of Astavakra
In Mahabharatha the legend of Astavakra is fascinating and vivid. When Astavakra was in the womb of Sujata, his father, Kahor, a mighty student of the Vedas, used to read aloud the sacred Mandala-s, each day late into the nights. The unborn genius, even from the womb, suddenly cried out! Father, through your grace I have already learned all the Veda-s, even while I am in my mother’s womb. But I am sorry to say that you often make mistakes in your recitation.” Enraged by this grave insult, the father cursed his son, and the boy was therefore born deformed with eight curvatures in his anatomy.
Hence he was born with severe abnormalities but had learnt all the scriptures. His teachings to Raja-Rsi, Janaka has become ‘The Gita of Astavakra’.
Tales such as these are age-old reminders of the importance of blessing and gracing our children even before they enter the world.
It is also called Horse-Anus Gesture
a. Sit erect in Padmasana. Exhale.
b. Hold the breath and pull up the anus by contracting the sphincter; hold for about 10 seconds and inhale.
c. Release the anus
d. Release this rhythmically about 10 to 30 times.
Benefits : This Mudra is useful in evoking the spiritual forces dormant in the lower centers. Useful for pregnant women, and in curing urinary and anal incontinence. Asvini Mudra done in Viparitakarani posture is useful in treating piles and prolapse uterus.
Meditation is an essential component of Yoga practices in pregnancy.
Meditation can be done in Sukhasana (Crossed Leg) or Vajrasana. It is the heart of yoga. It is the flowering of the mind and soul, and with it comes peace, clarity, harmony, and energy.
(A-kara, U-kara, M-kara, A-U-M)
Nadanusandhana has been found tobe very effective in increasing blood flow to the womb and the fetus.
a. A-Kara Chanting
® Sit in any meditative posture and adopt cin-mudra.
® Feel completely relaxed and close your eyes.
® Inhale slowly and completely
® While exhaling chant ‘AAA’ in a low pitch.
® Feel the sound resonance in the abdomen and the lower parts of the body.
® Repeat nine times.
b. U-Kara Chanting
” Sit in any meditative posture.
” Adopt Cinmaya Mudra.
” Feel the sound resonance in the chest and the middle part of the body.
” Repeat nine times.
c. M-Kara Chanting
® Sit in any meditative posture.
® Adopt Adi Mudra.
®” Inhale slowly and completely.
® While exhaling chant ‘MMM’ in a low pitch.
® Feel the sound resonance in the entire head region.
® Repeat nine times.
d. A-U-M Chanting
® Sit in any meditative posture
® Adopt Brahma Mudra.
® Inhale slowly and completely to fill the lungs.
® While exhaling chant ‘A-U-M’ in a low pitch.
® Feel the sound resonance throughout the body.
® Repeat nine times.
® Different sounds like A, U, M & A-U-M are produced loudly so that they generate a fine resonance all over the body. Resonance will occur only when the frequency of the generated sound matches with the natural frequency of your body.
® These resonant sounds act as stimulations and the post-resonance silence deepens the awareness and releases even very subtle tensions.
® Therefore, while producing different sounds (A, U, M & A-U-M) try to adjust the pitch in such a way that a fine resonance is achieved.