This is Part 2 of a six part series. If you are new to the blog, start with Part 1 and I will meet you back here!
Today was absolutely jam packed full of prenatal yoga! We began this morning with about an hour of introductions then rolled out our mats and jumped right into an hour and a half practice. The sequence was a blend of vinyassa and restorative, all designed to help mothers and their growing babies. The class was heavily modified to be safe for growing bodies, while strengthening the body (especially the pelvic floor and back). After the practice we discussed the aspects of yoga, and things to avoid with pregnant women.
We spent some time discussing pregnancy and the fact that it is not a condition, or a disease to be cured of, but rather a unique state. Pregnancy and motherhood changes a woman: spiritually and physically, socially and mentally, so much so that through the process she comes out as an entirely new person. The instructor shared a quote with us that resounds with me and my life, and called to mind my own pregnancy several years ago:
“It’s not the load we carry, but how we carry it that breaks us down.”
After an intense morning we broke for lunch and with the studio being on the edge of downtown Fort Wayne, I took the opportunity to walk through the surrounding community. There were several churches in the area and I took a page from a friend’s book and walked into the first Catholic church I saw. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was awe inspiring. I loved the traditional and timeless feel of it, and it reminded me of the church we once attended when we lived in New York and where my daughter was baptized. The woodwork and stained glass were ornate and well crafted, and even though it was a cathedral there was still an intimate and warm feel to the building. Catholic churches have been historically designed so that their beauty reflects the greater beauty of the Creator and points the visitor’s heart towards heaven, and I certainly felt close my entire time there. They have an 8:00 mass, and I fully plan on going tomorrow morning.
After lunch it was back to classes and my yogi cocoon. We did a candle-gazing meditation to help cleanse the mind and build focus. In this meditation, you stare just above the flame of the candle and focus the breath with a mantra. We centered our meditation on the phrase “I am strong. I am radiant.” The flame is a symbol for the spirit: fire purifies the things around it. Even though objects may pass through the flame (challenges, trials, and adversities), the fire remains unchanged. Rather than collapsing or losing its intensity it changes the things that pass through it, burning off the flimsy and unnecessary to leave the essence.
Candle-gazing is a powerful meditation in that it allows for wakefulness during the meditation because the eyes are open (as opposed to being closed in a normal meditation practice), and it stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete the hormone serotonin, helping the practitioner to sleep better at night. In addition, candle-gazing meditation helps to increase salience, or the ability to concentrate. In order for the yogi to realize the full benefit of the practice, one should meditate for fifteen minutes, though even a few minutes a day can reap major rewards (consistency versus intensity).
The last quarter of the class was devoted to the physiological and anatomical changes a woman goes through with pregnancy, and possible complications that might arise, as well as some practice teaching.
Today’s lessons were interesting and fascinating. I loved discussing yoga with other women, and meeting so many yoginis from across the state. Each yoga studio has its own culture and flavor, so it was refreshing learning new ideas and gaining a deeper and richer perspective on the practice. Now it’s off to read a couple of chapters on Ayurveda for pregnancy and bed so I can be well prepared to enter into Day 2!
Question of the Day:
If it weren’t a question of funds or time, what would you cross off your bucket list? This training is really high on my list so this week has been one big yogi love fest for me. (I wouldn’t say no if someone wants to sponsor me for an African safari though)