If there was ever a time to start a deep relaxation practice, it’s during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a period of profound change in a woman’s life. Not only do hormonal changes cause a woman to feel hyper sensitive to the environment around her, but internal feelings ranging from empowerment and strength to fear and vulnerability can arise at lightening speed, swinging from one emotion to the next in a heart beat.
Pregnancy can also be a time of deep spiritual growth. The miracle of what a woman’s body is quietly achieving, forming a human being inside her, cannot and should not be understated! Which is why this is such a perfect time to turn inwards and tap into the sense of awe and wonderment that can be so easily lost in todays outward facing world.
Notwithstanding all of the beauty and the miracles of creating a life, pregnancy can be a real physical struggle. Symptoms, despite all of a woman’s best efforts at trying to control or alleviate them, can scupper the best of intentions when you can barely get out of bed or hold down a piece of toast! Which is why developing a Yoga Nidra practice can be such a gift as it requires nothing but letting go.
Yoga Nidra Philosophy + Benefits
The Yoga Nidra philosophy holds that deep relaxation is a conscious act of first letting go of muscular tension, then emotional tension and finally mental tension to “rest more efficiently”. There is a common misconception that to relax is simply to finish a days work, plonk yourself down on the couch with a glass of wine, light the fire and watch a good series on Netflix. And while of course this is enjoyable way to round off an evening, this is not actual relaxation that will provide tangible benefits to your mind, body and soul. This is merely a “sensory distraction” and really is just another form of “doing”.
The Yogis believe there is a second misconception surrounding relaxation being achieved by a good night sleep, which of course is imperative to good health! However, if one is not free of muscular, emotional and mental tension before sleeping you will carry this tension into your dreams and the way you hold yourself while sleeping and could wake up just as exhausted as before you’ve gone to bed.
Learning how to relax the physical body, process emotions and quiet the mind before attempting to “relax” or even sleep, will have far more restorative benefits then when you relax or sleep without taking these steps first.
Yoga Nidra for Pregnancy
Which brings us back to Yoga Nidra for pregnancy. Can you think of more important time to release tension from the body, process what your feeling and let go of any mental anxiety? There is nothing quite like waking in the middle of the night and not being able to find a comfortable position for your growing belly to sleep in, staring at the ceiling thinking about all the scenarios that could arise during the birthing experience!
The practice of Yoga Nidra is simple and straightforward but it does take practice. As anyone who has started a mediation practice will understand, sitting down comfortably and quieting the mind is not something you will simply achieve on the first attempt! And while Yoga Nidra is actually a little easier as you are being guided through the various stages by a teacher while lying down, the act of “letting go” and allowing yourself to be guided can be a challenge in itself. However, like anything, where there is a will there’s a way and dedication to the practice will reap rewards for your wellbeing you never thought were possible.
How to Prepare + The Practice
So to the practice! Below you will find a guided Yoga Nidra script specifically for pregnancy. This is a beautiful practice to share with your partner, having them read the script to you slowly can be a beautiful way to connect with each other and include them in the process. This can also be a very useful practice when you’re in the early stages of the birthing experience, made all the more powerful if you’ve practiced together regularly throughout pregnancy. If you would prefer to practice on your own, feel free to record yourself reading the practice in a Voice Memo on your phone, put on your favourite relaxation music in the background and off you go. The full practice is approximately 45 minutes.
- You will need a thick yoga mat or rug, 2 cushions, a blanket and quiet space where you will not be disturbed;
- If you are listening to your audio on a device where you receive messages and notifications be sure you switch your device to “do not disturb” so you won’t be disturbed!
- In pregnancy it is not advised to lie on your back for prolonged periods. The optimal reclined position in pregnancy is lying on your left side, with your knees lined up with your hips and a cushion between the legs. Also place a cushion under your head to your neck is supported and put a blanket over you to stay warm