How just 8 seconds can be so important during pregnancy
If you’re reading this article then you’re most likely pregnant or close to someone who is, so I won’t waste your time repeating the endless information out there on what it’s like and the do’s and don’ts. (If you’re still banging down patè, sushi, wine or cigarettes then click on another article quickly!)
What I can tell you from years of teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga, is that every woman’s experience is different, and many of those pregnancy/baby books you can buy will scare the s**t out of you. Many years ago I thought that that an easy pregnancy was mind over matter. The more laid back clients I had seemed to have an easier time than those that were naturally anxious or over conscientious. Sadly I now know this is not entirely true, and that a woman’s body during pregnancy is the purest example of it’s uncontrollable and automatic mechanisms. Basically the most rational, intelligent, logical woman’s mind is no match for the hormonal and physical crimes your body may suddenly go through! However, your mental attitude during pregnancy is fundamental to you and your baby’s health. Whether you practice yoga regularly or not, it is common knowledge that our mind and body are complexly connected and there’s a biological cause and effect. Simply put, what’s happening in your body can have an affect on your mind, and visa versa. So the swollen ankles, constant sniffles and fried egg nipples can make your mind anxious and upset, just as negative or worrying thoughts can give you digestive issues and muscle tension.So back to being pregnant, and your mindset during becomes especially important for the calm and good health of you and the baby. This is often easier said than done and there’s nothing worse than others telling you to just relax, stop crying or go lie down!
1: START BECOMING MORE MINDFUL,OR AWARE, OF YOUR BODY & MIND
Sound simple and obvious? Most people are rushing about their stressful lives disconnected from themselves, those that matter to them and the present moment. During the time a woman is pregnant, is the best reminder of the love and respect she needs to have for herself, taking in and appreciating the present moment mindfully. So listen and honour what your body is asking you for (rest, food, a walk..) and work with the changes you’re going through, not against them.
Recognising when and why your mind gets upset or anxious helps you take the next step in control and calm:
Breathing – invariably you’re aware of how important your breathing is to feed your baby and yourself the oxygen that every cell needs to grow, repair and survive. Breathing is taken for granted as an automatic mechanism, but during pregnancy, it’s especially worth giving it some extra focus.
Any time you’re not focusing on your breath, you’re not breathing to your full capacity. So cut out times during the day to consciously take a few long deep breaths.
2: INDIV YOGA S.O.S BREATH
IF YOU ONLY TAKE 1 THING AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE PLEASE LET IT BE THIS:
ANY time you feel a morsel of worry, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, annoyance, frustration, or simply just crazy pregnancy brain, take 1 to 3 long, deep breaths.
Try to breath in and out of the nose (not often viable during pregnancy but do your best especially on the inhale). Feel your abdomen and chest slowly ‘balloon’/expand outwards on the inhale, and then gently expel the stale air out of the lungs by drawing your abdomen back towards the spine as you exhale. THAT SIMPLE!! Easy and amazingly effective on a physiological level!
Don’t underestimate the positive effects those 8 seconds can have on your overall physical and mental health (roughly 4 seconds to inhale and the same on the exhale). It’s 8 seconds where you can be completely focused in the present moment, its smells, sounds, taste, view, and any sensations. 8 seconds of mindful mental clarity, where you’re simply connecting with your breath and your body. 8 seconds expelling stale air and giving yourself the oxygen, your life force and energy provider, keeping you and your baby in good health.
JUST 8 SECONDS OUT OF YOUR DAY
Anything going on in your body, you name it, is directly and immediately affected by the quality of the breath you take. By this I mean the length, depth and intention of the breath. A long breath helps regulate your Central Nervous System, which along with the brain, basically control everything going on in your body. Besides all the obvious benefits of properly feeding oxygen to all your cells, deep breaths also stimulate the organs in the abdominal cavity and aid digestion. Your sleeping is also less disturbed when your body is oxygenated, settled and calm. And of course on a mindfulness and relaxation note, that 1 long breath gives us a moment to take stock of the present and listen to what our bodies are telling us. It gives you a few seconds to stop and reconnect with yourself, your baby and your environment.
Now that’s NOT to say that you need to stop in your tracks throughout the day to breathe! And DEFINITELY don’t limit yourself to only taking conscious deep breaths when angry, upset, frustrated etc!
Conscious breaths can still be done while driving, walking, making the bed, sitting at a desk, drinking tea and even while on the loo!!
There are no limits as to when and where you can take a moment to mindfully bring your focus back to your breath
What IS important however: 1) Training yourself to become self aware and notice when and how negative emotions or sensations arise. 2) Use the 1 to 3 S.O.S breath IMMEDIATELY so that it becomes a daily physiological habit (the brain will begin to short link this as an automatic response). Besides the physical benefits, those 8 seconds will help put the present situation or thoughts into perspective, give you a sense of control and help calm and settle the mind for rational, critical thinking (the opposite of crazy pregnancy brain!). 3) NEVER hold your breath after an inhalation or an exhalation during pregnancy.
So go on give yourself a long deep breath. After reading all this and looking at the weird photo on the right, you deserve it!
p.s. how does Barbie still manage to look flawless, pregnant with her 3rd child?!