Yoga is one of the most widely recommended prenatal exercises for a variety of reasons. For one, it is a low impact exercise that is adaptable to all body types and can accomodate many physical limitations. It’s also an activity that brings together physical, mental and emotional components at the same time. Lastly, it can help build or strength the bond between parents and their growing baby. For these reasons, as well as a large availability of prenatal Yoga classes globally, many soon-to-be parents find themselves on the mat at some point during pregnancy (many yoga classes are also open to both parents as a way to encourage the use of Yoga and Yoga breathing during labour).
Visualization is one tool in a Yoga teacher’s toolkit to help students deal with physical or emotional challenges. It can be defined as the technique of focusing your imagination on something (events, behaviours, outcomes) you’d like to occur in your life. By focusing on them, imagining them to be true and seeing yourself experiencing that outcome, many people believe that you can get closer to achieving this outcome. Much like an athlete visualizes a successful race or game, we use visualization to visualize a particular life goal or behaviour.
During a Yoga class, visualization can be approached in many ways. Simply chanting a Mantra (a short phrase or even just a word) or setting an intention are forms of visualization. At the end of a Yoga class, particularly a prenatal Yoga class, students are invited to participate in Savasana (Corpse Pose or relaxation) where they are often guided through a step-by-step relaxation. Yoga Nidra is an even deeper, more involved form of relaxation that uses visualization to relax students. Finally, while working with the breath, prenatal Yoga students are often encouraged to visualize stress leaving the mind and body, being replaced by a feeling of confidence and tranquility.
For many of the same reasons that Yoga is beneficial during pregnancy, visualization can be of great help to new parents. While pregnancy, birth and parenthood are all moments of great joy, they can also be moments of stress, worry and uncertainty. Visualization can help you to focus on the outcomes you wish to have happen or the characteristics within yourself that you would like to be at the forefront of your parenting approach. It can also help you to positively deal with any unexpected situations, such as a birth plan that doesn’t go quite as planned. Pregnancy can bring with it many uncontrollable events and by regularly practicing visualization you can also prepare yourself for how you will deal with these outcomes.
For a short, easy introduction to visualization you can follow these steps from the comfort of your own home. For a deeper introduction, contact a pregnancy Yoga teacher that offers an approach that resonates with you. If you’d like to get started with Kalila Community, you can book a free 15 minute session with us here!
For your home practice:
- Sit comfortably & reflect on how you wish to feel today. Choose a short phrase (such as “I am happy”)
- Close your eyes
- Lightly press your tongue onto the roof of your mouth, jaw relaxed, mouth closed
- Breathe in and out through your nose
- Allow your mind to become light and free of your usual thoughts
- Focus on your breathe coming in and out
- Start to allow your phrase to repeat in your head as you breathe in and out
- Return to your normal breath and open your eyes when you’re ready to end your visualization
Visualization can be extremely helpful for many new moms who are facing difficult times post-birth as well (many moms will tell you that motherhood was not at all as they expected!). If you think visualization could help you to deal with whatever post-partum issues you’re having, be sure to contact us for a free session.