being ok with pain and fear

January 8 2016 | Blog

One of central discoveries  of the Yoga tradition is that pain that is not resisted begins to soften. The same applies to fear, as the saying goes, 'fear makes the wolf grow bigger'.

One of the many reasons I love teaching pregnancy yoga is because it is the practice of yoga at it's simplest and purest. All of the focus is on the breath, learning to cope with constant physical change and the ever shifting sands of emotions. Preparing for birth, motherhood and the unknown, knowing that the pain of childbirth is hard (it's called labour for a good reason, it goes on a long time and it hurts), but it has a purpose. Every contraction is bringing you closer to meeting the love of your life. Through breath and meditation women come to realise that they know so much more than they thought, that we have primal knowledge and instincts, long forgotten and buried by what is now called a 'civilised' society. When women prepare to embrace pain and to recognise where their fear comes from and why, they are a long way towards being able to stay in control. And in the inimitable words of the wonderful Ina May Gaskin "Don't think of it as pain, think of it as a really interesting sensation that requires all of you attention."

When it comes to fear during labour, I bet you've all heard the stories from some women. "All the lights were on in the delivery suite, strange people were coming and going saying things about me that I didn't understand, saying things about the baby, hooking me up to monitors, and then they told me my labour wasn't progressing properly…..". Genuine obstetric emergencies aside let me tell you what often happens. When a birthing woman is frightened, adrenaline kicks in and her labour slows or stops completely. There is a good reason for this, long ago when a woman gave birth in the wild if she sensed danger approaching she needed to be able to delay until the threat to her and her unborn child had passed. These deep rooted primal instincts have not been lost just because we may not necessarily need them any more, they are still there. Staying quiet and inward looking is the most beneficial thing you can do, and yoga will give you the tools to do this.

Awareness of the breath is integral to yoga practice and when you make that breath conscious it nurtures a link between the mind and body, and between the conscious and unconscious mind. With practice this leads to a strong ability to stay calm and centred in challenging situations. Not just during pregnancy and birth but long into the postnatal period. That focus on the breath and connection with that deep instinctual knowledge is essential for staying calm.

The word Yoga comes from "Yuj" to yoke/union. The connection with the self and the baby is the ultimate union which is after all one of the most important principles of the yogic tradition, that we are not separate. We are all connected, humans, animals, forests, oceans and mountains, none of us can survive without each of the other. We could say that pregnancy, birth and motherhood are essentially yogic processes. 

And that pain and fear never goes away even when they are all grown up and have flown the nest. Think of it as a privilege; from the pain and the fear in that first contraction, through the first day you leave them at school to the day when you know they are in Columbia somewhere but you haven't heard from them for a week! 

 "Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest." Debra Ginsberg 

Find a pregnancy yoga class to go to if you haven't already, I promise you won't regret it xx


 “May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”  Mother Teresa



Celebrate the little things. Precious moments. Small victories.
A joyous chill down your spine,
a smile you can’t stop with a frown.
Allow yourself to feel so bowled over, as if an angel has given you a shove,
see the sight you’ve seen ten-thousand times before,
today, so new, so unfamiliar, so Preciously Present.
That’s what makes life’s journey
a miraculous string of happiness throughout the weeks and years.
A beautiful face you’ll never kiss.
Dance with a stranger!
Relish little moments of victory; of success; of smart work, well done.
Honor the now.
Celebrate the instance of total peace, looking out upon that most beautiful landscape — you know, friend,
that scene the Mother painted with perfection;
the one you’ll surely never forget.
Look around when all is right, and say it aloud:
“All is right.”

Dave Ursillo

Photos by sweet Kat

Yoga Mummas Kathryn and Rachael xx


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