Last year, I purchased a 100-class card at a local yoga studio, good for a year. It fitted my regular practice: besides my self-practice, I also attend formal classes at least 3 times a week. Three months into the program, I was expecting my third baby. Unfortunately, my yoga studio did not offer prenatal classes. I did find out that yin yoga was still suitable for me and so the only available option for my formal classes was yin yoga.
My pregnancy is particularly a challenging one so far. During the first trimester, I was ordered bed rest initially for two weeks. When I thought the risk of miscarriage has passed, two more episodes of spotting sent me to bed rest on and off until the end of the first trimester. It was very difficult for me since I had to stop my yoga asana practice altogether. Further, the hormonal imbalance made me susceptible to emotional distress. With the fear of losing my baby, I was very stressed indeed. Lack of physical activity reduced my muscle strength, decreased circulation, and generally made me feel lethargic. Fortunately, the second trimester saw a more active me as I resumed my regular practice, albeit with a lot of modifications.
Now on my third trimester, and even with my prenatal practice, the journey hasn’t been any less challenging. I have gained too much weight (READ: PREGNANCY WEIGHT GAIN, BEING MINDFUL WITH MY DIET), experienced various mood swings, felt a lot of physical discomforts, and had difficulty sleeping due to compressed airways . At the end of each working day, I felt too tired, cranky, impatient, and easily irritated. When this happens, I skip my yoga practice even when I know I need it most.
Yin Yoga has been very helpful for me during these trying times. At the end of each session, I feel relaxed and re-energized. I only practice yin once a week but it provides me with an opportunity to reboot after each hectic week from work. Further, it allows me to cultivate awareness, particularly with the changes inside my body and helps me connect with my growing baby.
When practicing yin yoga, one follows 3 principles: grounding, relaxing the muscles, and holding still for a period of time. For me, the principles transcend beyond the physical. While yin focuses on stretching and lubricating the joints and connective tissues, the spiritual journey becomes more important during this stage of the pregnancy. Allowing myself to ground each pose into the earth anchors my volatile emotions; relaxing the muscles provides me an opportunity to observe then let go of negative energy and stress accumulated; and holding myself in stillness cultivates more awareness of what is going on in my mind and body. Overall, the practice allows me to be compassionate to myself.
Practicing yin yoga helps me be more centered and aware of what is important amidst the chaos that a difficult pregnancy may bring — the life inside my womb, my loving husband, and my two lovely daughters. With the remaining few weeks until delivery, I hope that it will continue to help me through labor and beyond.