Have you ever been in a yoga class and suddenly your emotions start to run wild? Maybe you’ve been there, holding a pose, and you felt a lump in your throat, and knew you were on the verge of tears. You weren’t particularly thinking of anything sad, nothing terrible had happened in your life recently—but there it was. Full. Raw. Emotions. Right at the surface.
As my friend Nikki Myers says, “The issues are in the tissues, and emotion (e-motion) is just energy in motion.” So it makes sense that, when you practice a body movement therapy such as yoga, emotions are bound to come up and want to move.
Now, imagine you are in yoga class and you are pregnant. Your hormones are changing rapidly, your body doesn’t feel like it’s under your control, and you have so many new things to think about: How will I birth my baby? Will my baby be healthy? How will I deal with the pain of labor? What if I have to have a C-section? How can I be that vulnerable in front of so many people?
During our prenatal yoga classes, we address this head on. Emotions and vulnerability can often be worked with on the mat and through sharing in community. This allows that feeling of “I’m all alone” to dissipate. Having a few moments at the beginning of class to give voice to your present fears or emotions can move the energy. Many times, just being heard—or hearing your own fear being voiced by another expecting mom—can alleviate the intensity.
This is what we call “inviting your dragon over for tea.” We talk about the scary parts, give voice to them, and get familiar with the big fears. When a group of women come together to share in a sacred space, a lot of healing can happen even before you do your first Downward Dog.
Then the movement part of class begins. Going inward, witnessing what is showing up, saying hello to the triggers, emotions, challenges, fears, all of it. When you welcome these moments into your practice, it gives you a chance to step back a bit and witness. It decreases the feeling that the emotion will swallow you up. The triggers or fears become so familiar you can almost laugh at them: “Oh hello, fear of failure, nice to see you again.”
Then we focus on the breath. Engaging conscious breath, while feeling and witnessing your prenatal version of Warrior II, is great training for tapping into the tools that can help you face the challenges ahead. Each inhale and exhale is an opportunity to go into the sensations, thoughts, or emotions rather than running away from them.
You wouldn’t run a marathon without doing some training first, right? Prenatal yoga is body, mind, and soul training for labor and birth. Presence, breath, community. No matter when you begin your prenatal yoga practice, time on the mat can create new habits for dealing with fear, lack of control, pain, and vulnerability. And the community of support that is created when a group of women share what they are going through is just as powerful and cathartic as a sweaty vinyasa class.