योग चित व्ति निरोधं: ।। २ ।।
Yoga citta-vritti nirodhah
Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind.
– The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Edwin Byrant commentary1)
Without stillness in thought, action and overall being much of the benefits of asanas will only be rudimentary and superficial. In order for pregnant women to gain all the benefits of her yoga practice, incorporating a vehicle that will influence calmness of mind and emotions becomes essential. Meditation techniques should therefore be introduced as early as possible during the course of the prenatal yoga practice.
There are distinct physiological advantages to meditation that may benefit both mother and child in the womb. In the influential The Relaxation Response2, Herbert Benson in 1975 showed that meditation (particularly he researched transcendental meditation) decreases various stress causing physiological responses (Fig. 1) such as heart rate, breathing rate, sympathetic nervous activity and other metabolic activities. Pregnancy rates at 44/100 in scale of impact of stress in a woman’s life, well above change in financial status (38) and death of a close friend (37).2 This means that active management of stress and anxiety during pregnancy will be of great benefit to both mother and child.
Apart from stress management, meditation and in general yoga practice has significant benefits in childbirth and management of pregnancy related issues. Many techniques involved in meditation will also be useful during birthing itself, which may explain to a certain extent why women adept in yoga and meditation manage labour and childbirth better than their otherwise unprepared counterparts (fig.2).
Fig.2: The sequential effect of the pathways of yoga on outcomes in pregnancy. (source: Chuntharapat et al. 2008)
There have been a number of studies in the literature recognising the impact of meditation and yoga in pregnancy. One such recent study4 examined the effectiveness of two relaxation techniques (progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing) during pregnancy. The results of the study demonstrate significant benefits from the use of the techniques in the psychological state of the pregnant women. The systematic implementation of the proposed relaxation techniques contributed in the reduction of perceived stress and anxiety and increased the sense of internal control. They also found changes in many lifestyle factors associated with stress during pregnancy (Table 1)
Despite all the mounting scientific evidence, one of the main reasons to prepare pregnant women with techniques in meditation is to empower them to take control of arguably the biggest situation in their lives. Women can only feel in control when they know how to respond to situations in a non-reactionary manner. But the even more important point to empower women with is in the knowing that giving birth is perhaps the greatest meditation technique we will ever have and thus to embrace it with all its power and humility and pure beauty.
Benefits of Meditation During Pregnancy
Being worried about your unborn child is normal. However, the stress, anxiety, and tiredness associated with it are not.
This state not only hampers your developing baby but also disbalances your mind. So how do you stop that from happening?
According to meditation and pregnancy research, both mother and child will benefit from systematic breathing.
This article will talk about pregnancy meditation and its importance.
What Is Pregnancy Meditation?
Pregnancy meditation is when you use similar meditation techniques to connect better with your baby. Here you will sit in a posture, breathe and hear the tiny heartbeat in your stomach.
Most meditation and pregnancy research show that this helps mothers feel refreshed and focused. Furthermore, the sense of inner peace that you get will benefit your mind and improve your baby’s growth.
With pregnancy meditation, you can dedicate substantial periods to connecting with your child’s brain.
A baby’s brain starts developing right from the womb, so a healthy dose of oxygen will be beneficial. Moreover, meditation is simple – you take deep breaths and release them slowly.
According to meditation and pregnancy research, there are immense benefits that you can get:
- Peace of mind for you
- It helps lowers any risks of postpartum depression
- Assures that the mother is less stressed and tension-free
- A connection with your inner self
- Invokes a positive and empowering preparation for labor
- Awareness of the changes in your body
Pregnancy meditation not only helps you through your trimesters but also during birth. Hence, getting you in a mental state for pain endurance during labor.
Having prenatal stress is common among pregnant women. It can hamper fetal development and impact the cognitive growth of your baby. Therefore, pregnancy meditation can help restrict that from happening.
While being pregnant, your body keeps growing. So, some women might harm their emotions due to their physical appearance. That is where pregnancy meditation comes to the rescue!
Using meditation will help you connect with your inner peace, encouraging your unborn child with positive feelings.
Other than that, having anxiety and stress can also hamper your child’s appearance. It can even induce preterm labor. That is why pregnancy meditation is crucial!
Along with this, performing mindful yoga will also help ensure effective growth in your baby.
Starting Your Pregnancy Meditation
Having a birth plan will help you through every step of pregnancy. Moreover, a pregnancy meditation schedule should be a part of that plan!
But, how to implement meditation in your daily life?
- Use applications that promote meditation
- Join a meditation club
- Try guided meditation workshops
- Watch YouTube videos about meditation
- Ask your partner to join in with your routine
Pregnancy meditation will help promote mental health and enhance the development of your child.
Furthermore, stress and anxiety can hinder the growth of your unborn baby. So, with proper meditation and pregnancy research, you can implement it in your daily life.
What are you waiting for? Try pregnancy meditation today to help alleviate any problems in your child’s future.
1. Bryant, E., F (2009) The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary. North Point Press: New York.
2. Benson, H. & Klipper, M. Z. (1975) The Relaxation Response. William Morrow and Co. Inc.: New York.
3. Chuntharapat, S., W. Petpichetchian & U. Hatthakit, (2008). Yoga during pregnancy: Effects on maternal comfort, labour pain and birth outcomes., Complementary therapies in clinical practice 14(2), 105–15.
4. Tragea, C., G.P. Chrousos, E.C. Alexopoulos & C. Darviri, (2014). A randomized controlled trial of the effects of a stress management programme during pregnancy., Complementary therapies in medicine 22(2), 203–11.