Trust Your Instincts, By Pregnancy Yoga Teacher, Elaine McRaild

When I was pregnant with Millie, my daughter, who is now almost 5, I was keen to have as natural a birth as possible. I imagined everything happened exactly as I wanted it to. I would go into labour surges (contractions), stay at home as long as I could and then by the time I got to hospital it would be a quick, amazing experience.

I wanted to stay away from maternal classes, avoid One Born Every Minute and talking to friends, who wanted to tell me about their painful, traumatic experiences. These were all things that potentially could influence the way I saw birth. I had my image of birth and I didn't want it to be influenced.

Not long into my pregnancy, I was told by the midwife that I would need to be induced on my due date, due to what the medical profession believed were high risk factors. I was 40 and this was a precious IVF baby. I told myself I would be OK, baby will come early, there are techniques I can use to help this along , so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

I continued to have a really healthy pregnancy, I was in my element, excited about the birth of this long awaited baby. I was taking time every day to connect with my baby, to connect with my body and connect with my mind by listening to my HypnoBirthing  track, meditating and doing yoga, visualising the wonderful birth my baby and I were going to have together .Weekly acupuncture sessions helped me to stay calm and relaxed and kept pregnancy symptoms at bay.....pregnancy was great! 

As my due date got closer, the prospect of induction seemed to be the only blot on the horizon. I discussed this again and again with my midwife, but she was only able to create fear when we spoke about it, telling me we would not want to take any risks with the arrival of this little bundle.

Every part of my being was telling me baby will come when baby is ready, but this every hanging  induction was starting to occupy a bigger and bigger place in my mind. It was completely unsettling me. The week before my due date/ induction date I started to try some of the more natural ways to induce labour. I was drinking raspberry tea, I booked into my acupuncturist, he had a special point that could work to encourage labour to start. I was booked in for a sweep a few days before and all that resulted from that was me going home, climbing into bed and crying. I honestly felt as though my baby and I had been violated. "This baby would come when it's ready, they had no right to be trying to force it to come early!!!!"

I was starting to get really agitated "this is my body, my baby.....but the medical profession know best, I need to do what they are suggesting to me" At this time I was quietly fighting my instincts against what the medical profession were wanting me to do. I did allow them to induce me and I can honestly say the few hours with prostaglandin pessary was the worst part of my pregnancy and birth experience, contractions coming fast and furious, every 40 seconds. The midwifes on nightshift recommended that the pessary was removed, as it looked like I was being over stimulated and they would start again in the morning.

During the night, I could feel my own surges, which were milder and much easier to ride. I even managed to sleep through them, allowing me the opportunity to build up my strength. The next morning, I had a wobble at the though of having to start the process of inducement again. I reminded myself why I was there and that my precious little bundle would soon be arriving. 

After breakfast, I had an examination and to my surprise, I was 6cm dilated, things were moving along nicely and there was no need for further induction. What a relief! It was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. Arrangements were made for me to move to the delivery suite, my hubby was called to get himself into hospital. From this point, I felt more in control, I was able to refocus on why I was there and  the birth I imagined that would bring my baby into the world. I focused on my breath, listened to my body and my wonderful hubby's words of encouragement. 4 hours later, my baby girl arrived safely, into the world. I was ecstatic, overwhelmed with not only love for my daughter, but with my own body which had created, nurtured and delivered this most amazing little baby. 

I learnt so many things during the process of my pregnancy, labour and amazing the human body is, the importance of keeping your mind focused on what you want and not what you don't want.  Pregnancy and birth can be an amazingly empowering experience for a woman. It is important it is to stay calm and take time to connect with your unborn baby every day.  A positive support network is essential, as it enables us to talk about and share what a positive experience birth can be. Whatever it might look for you personally, it's important that you educate yourself personally and be informed if you need to question a process that doesn't feel right for you. The most important thing I learned during the whole process was to listen to my own instinct. Your body and your baby know when the time is right for your baby to arrive in this world.



Why? A Message to My Old Self, by Meditation Teacher George Watson

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the matrix; your happiness fulfilment, contentment and satisfaction and that of those around you is so easily achieved/helped once you understand yourself, but instead of this understanding, you pursue just about everything else whilst explicitly stating you know it won't make you happy. If you don't like your situation, it stresses you out and results in minimal value, then change it from the core. The same goes for relationships. 

Being in a deep state of meditation, where your ego has drifted off and you are nothing more and nothing less than part of the universe, is such a beautiful place to be. There's nothing particularly spiritual, religious or arty farty about it - you are made of the stars; every atom in your body was created either at the big bang or in a stellar process sometime after. The allegedly singular entity known as "you" will soon be spread around a much wider space. 

The only thing that seems to get in the way is the old ego- it doesn't seem to have been around before your body came together and it seems unlikely to stick around once your body separates. And it's such an attention seeking drama queen that it's determined to convince you it's the centre of the universe, when in fact it's just a temporary tool to help you survive in this physical world, a bit like a coat or traffic laws; not un natural, nor evil, nor particularly significant.

As soon as you see this tool for what it is, then your world blasts open- no longer desperately running around consumed by what happens to "me" but be able to calmly sit back, observe and take part in the cosmic dance, amazing beyond words. From here you see how beautiful it is to help- not for praise, reward or advancement- simply to be in tune with your true nature; once you've felt that, it's clear there is nothing greater.

The above message seems to fall down through peer pressure, the difficulty of understanding yourself, or doubt in it's albeit obvious truth; you've heard it many times and much more compellingly than here and yet you seem to nod and say "oh well, yes of course, yes that's clearly the most important thing" and then get back to putting at least 99% of your energy into things that you have just agreed will not provide true or lasting happiness to you or everyone else.

Some smart people, the vast majority of them within a few years of buddhist training, decided the best way to get the message across was to talk about stress, concentration and economics and through this 'mindfulness' has become pretty popular. And what a great concept it is; if only it were a bit more acceptable to point out that it's not just a clever tool for improving people's public speaking, it's an avenue into seeing and being in a deeper reality. So considering you've so far proved impenetrable to spectacularly clear reasoning, why not take a mindfulness course.

Why is Waking up to Yoga Good?

An early morning yoga practice has a wide range of health benefits. When we practice yoga, the focus we have on our breath and movement can leave us feeling peaceful, energised and calm. Moving from our morning practice into our working day can help us concentrate on our work, increase our awareness and help us to see the positive in situations. Because we feel good after yoga and more aware, the chances are that we will also make healthier choices about eating, sleeping, thinking and speaking

Early morning yoga can help us establish a good routine. We've all been in the situation where we've had to work late or the idea of a glass of wine seems more appealing at 6.00pm. Think about how amazing it feels to finish your working day, knowing that you have done your practice. When you make it a habit to get up and practice first thing in the morning, you are going to make your bed time a priority. Morning yoga has also been proven to help regulate sleep rhythm and balances hormones. It boosts metabolism and warms up the digestive system too. 

One of our students Rosie, attends our 7.00am yoga classes on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Here she tells about the benefits of her practice.

"Coming to the early morning classes is a perfect way for me to commit to a yoga routine that fits around my 9-5 and social life. It means getting up a bit earlier but the effort is far outweighed by how great it feels to start my day feeling energised and grounded."

Pressing the snooze button in the morning is a luxury, but an early morning practice is one of the biggest treats you can give your body and mind! 



Desk Yoga Break Part 1

Many of us spend A LOT of time sitting at our desks on our computers. If this includes you the chances are that you've started to feel the physical effects this: enter stiff hips, hamstrings, back pain, rounded shoulders, sore neck, sore wrists - the list goes on. Then you come to yoga class and you start to feel all of these things which are the result of all the sitting on chair with your arms out in front of you all day long.

So what's a yogi to do?! Well given that you may not be able to undergo a complete career change, over the next few weeks I'll be giving you some tips on how to incorporate some healthy movement into your day's work at your desk. Instead of taking a smoking break or a coffee break how about a yoga break? 

This week let's work on the tension in your wrists and hands. If we spend hours in a fixed position with our hands typing we tend to find that our hands become tense and we start to lose the range of motion in our wrists. When we come to our yoga mats we can suffer from wrist pain or the inability to spread our fingers and hands out flat on the mat. These exercises are a great way to prepare for any poses which involve putting a lot of weight on our hands and wrists (e.g. plank, crow pose, pendant pose etc.)

Notes: Take some deep grounding breaths in and out through your nose.

Pic 1. Keep the backs of your hands and wrists together. Don't let your shoulders round forward. Lower your hands until you feel the stretch.

Pic 2. Spread your fingers out and gently pull back on your hand until you feel a stretch.

Pics 3 +4  Make a fist with your hand and then open your hand out stretching one finger at a time and then reverse this to make a fist again.

I hope you enjoy your Yoga Break! See you on the mat.

Laura x