Yoga and Motherhood

Swami Hridayananda Saraswati

Yoga leads to self knowledge and gives the key to understanding one's inner processes and personality. With growing awareness yoga slowly embraces our way of life. Then the experience of giving birth, instead of being difficult or painful, brings elation and spiritual joy to the family. Husband and friends can share the mother's feelings. A greater communion between husband and wife matures their relationship and fills it with joy. The happy and healthy mother-to-be can thus create a loving atmosphere for their child's nourishment and growth.

Each birth creates the future of mankind. A woman's experience of childbirth is considered by leading scientists to have a major influence on her life. The trauma of giving birth for the first time is very real because mothers are fearful of this new and unknown experience. Most mothers receive very little education on this important subject.

We can overcome the fear of childbirth with knowledge, and integrate the mind-body through relaxation. When the mind and body function together, the mother can assist her whole being to flow with the contracting uterus as it pushes her baby from the womb. By using yogic techniques throughout the nine months of expectation she can develop an increased awareness of her body and understanding of the continual changes that are occurring within her. She can recover from depression and tiredness within minutes and learn to control her emotions which may alter many times during a day.

A woman's body is designed to reproduce another human being. Once pregnancy has occurred the body undergoes many changes, and it needs discipline. For the mother to maintain herself and baby in vibrant health, regular yogic practices done with concentration will strengthen the body and help keep the energy level high.

A woman can take more responsibility for herself when she understands anatomy, fertilisation, the birth process and how to care for herself and her infant. Birth can be organised positively within a hospital system if the mother plans ahead and includes her husband as far as possible in all arrangements. She can find a special gynaecologist, one who treats her as a woman and friend, not as a machine or patient, and answers her personal questions.

A heavily sedated state slows down the birth process and leads to many hours of extra strain. It is better to be fully conscious all the way through the birth, sharing the experience and working as a team with husband and doctor. A woman's own instincts and feelings are a good gauge of how the birth is going. The chance of an emergency arising is one in a hundred. But if it does, then the doctor is there to assist with his expert and specialised knowledge. Some women have negative reactions to pregnancy because they are unprepared. But the mother's maternal instinct will naturally increase when she holds her baby close to her body straight after delivery. This is an important experience. Also breast feeding helps her to relax and creates feelings of maternal intimacy. Women have a great opportunity to help themselves and their family develop harmony, balance and a positive approach to life. Through knowledge of their bodily functions they can bear a vibrant, healthy child. Through yoga they can learn a science for living, loving and completely fulfilling their mission in life.