It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…
YOGA FOR MOTHERHOOD™
Yoga has an enormous capacity to positively support us in our daily life, especially during the pandemic, and specifically for moms and babies during and after pregnancy. Yoga is something that you can easily learn and may enjoy doing at any time, regardless of where you are, what you may have, or your experience level.
The practice of yoga can become a way of life – an essential and positive way of being in a relationship with yourself, others, and the world around you. In life, a situation may happen where you might say, “Oh my gosh this horrible situation is happening to me!” In contrast, by applying the practice of yoga to that experience, you might name it and respond with, “This is happening right now. I can feel my feet on the ground and I can connect with my breath. I can soften and relax, and take my own timing to digest what is happening, regulate myself, and then respond from clarity.” Yoga invites you into a relationship with your body-mind, heart, and soul – into your wholeness. Through this connection, you may experience deep healing, more relaxation, and joy.
One of the positive side effects of the pandemic I’ve experienced is that moms have become more aware and responsible, to seek and find positive and empowering ways to “self care” during pregnancy. Applying yoga during pregnancy helps moms to understand the importance of, and how to nurture connection with themselves and their baby. Moms, through prenatal yoga, actively teach wellness and “self-care” practices from the womb, and model health and wellbeing for their baby. This not only positively affects the baby throughout their lifespan, it supports health for future generations.
Prenatal yoga facilitates stress reduction and a beautiful connection between you and your baby. As a result, you may feel even more bonded with your baby and gain greater awareness of your inherent motherly intuition and super powers.
Below I will share with you information about my signature program, Yoga for Motherhood™️, name the benefits it can provide during the pandemic, and give you some practical tools that you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
Many of the principles and practices can be applied indefinitely because it will show you how to develop a home practice you can keep forever, long after pregnancy and the pandemic. As you continue your yoga practice, you may choose to join in-person or online classes, retreats, training or festivals, keeping the benefits of yoga an integral and community oriented part of your life.
Why practice prenatal yoga? What is happening and what are the benefits?
In the process of human development, the time from preconception through the first year of life is called the primal period. It is when your deepest patterns are formed, or life’s impressions are made upon you. Those patterns form at the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and relational aspects of yourself and play out in your relationships with others.
When you learn and practice yoga you can feel better, build strength, support your organs and nervous system, and develop a positive outlook on life. When you are pregnant and experiencing this, then you actively develop an optimal environment, in this primal period, for your developing baby. This creates a blueprint of health and wellness for the baby, and helps you to feel supported, strong, and thriving.
The result of practicing yoga when pregnant is that you can focus inward and be more connected to your body and less with your intellectual and analytical mind. This allows you to be, and stay present with, your experience. When you are present, you are more connected to yourself, others, the world around you, and your precious child.
Through the practice of yoga you can experience feeling calm, relaxed, and peaceful. This is what psychologists call a state of regulation. In applying yoga principles and practices during pregnancy, you are not only self-regulating, but you are co-regulating with your baby. When you regulate yourself, your mind and your emotions become quiet. It is in this quiet place, in the silence, that you can listen to yourself and your baby. This is important because your baby is aware, sensitive, and trying to communicate with you, even non-verbally. When we listen to our babies, they feel acknowledged, validated, and loved as they are learning about the challenges of life from the womb.
When you are emotionally regulated, through a prenatal yoga practice, then your baby learns how to regulate him/herself. The sooner your baby experiences co-regulation, the sooner she/he feels a strong bond with you, which later is expressed as a healthy and secure attachment.
Yoga for Motherhood™️ is wonderful because of the positive effects it can have on you, and the optimal environment it can create for your developing baby. From this grounded and connected place of healthy bonding, attachment, and love, you and baby can thrive. Living life from a place of thriving, rather than surviving, you and your baby create healthier communities and a more peaceful world.
What are the best poses or best things to do to support pregnant moms during this pandemic?
There is a lot of fear among most of the world because of the current Covid 19 pandemic. With pregnancy, generally there could arise fear due to changes in the body, the unknown, new responsibility, self-doubt and more. With a pandemic you can add to it, the fear of hospitals and isolation.
I believe that the best yoga poses to do during pregnancy are the ones that create space in the torso for the growing baby and placenta; build muscular strength in the whole body, without gripping the belly, and cultivate breath awareness, which allows for relaxation and stress-reduction. Add to this a global community with human connection, and you have an ideal environment for your pregnancy and your baby.
YOGA FOR MOTHERHOOD™️
Create some space in your life to practice and take time for this pregnancy by creating a place to practice in your home. This can be easy and done without a lot of fuss. If you have a very small living space, I suggest the floor space beside your bed because that is often open. But any place that is the size of your yoga mat will do. It is ideal to keep the space for practice always set up and ready. Here are some tips:
- Keep all your yoga props in or near your practice space. Here is my essential list of yoga props, getting any or all will do: mat, blanket(s), yoga bolster, 2 blocks, and a strap. Improvise with household items such as: beach or bath towels, single bed blankets, couch cushions, soft ottoman, and a stack of books. Here is where I like to buy my props:.https://yogadirect.com
- Using essential oils will infuse the space with a beautiful smell. This will help to transform your space and your awareness and keep this time more sacred. There are many oils that can help with some of the common ailments of pregnancy, such as lavender oil, for nausea. Here is where I buy mine: https://www.fesflowers.com
- Add special things that are meaningful to you. A picture, a vase of flowers, a special stone or shells, a candle, something from your religion or spiritual practice that is very protective and meaningful to you. These items will help you to want to come to this space. This special place can become the place that you are in during early labor or even a place where you can take a nap (during or after pregnancy)!
- Bring music to this place for beautiful soothing sounds during pregnancy and also for early labor. One of my favorite artists is: https://www.SimritKaurMusic.com
- Mantra for Fertility, Pregnancy and Birth
From this space, you can join an online live class, zoom style, or on demand streaming. This will help you to be in community with others in your own home. Humans have an essential need to connect and many classes can offer you a lot during this challenging time of change and the unknown. If you want to join me online, you can find me here.
Added bonus – having this kind of place in your home will help you to keep the practice of yoga as part of your normal healthy lifestyle. Then this becomes part of your baby’s normal life too!
This helps you to again build physical and mental strength, and practice how to soften and relax, while keeping spaciousness in the body for your growing baby, the placenta, and internal organs.
The yoga postures that are slightly modified for pregnancy will bring you mental and physical strength. In all the poses, the torso needs to be long, broad and open. Keeping this in mind, you can do most of the standing, reclining, twisting, inverted, and forward bending poses. When you have length and broadness in your torso, you won’t grip the belly hard or tighten. This is good because we want the poses to help build strength and softness at the same time.
Here are some beautiful comments from one of my students who gave birth in the summer of 2020. She took my Yoga for Motherhood™️ online classes. She shares her experience after spending many months living differently due to the pandemic:
“…looking back I realize that I had been in labor for 2 weeks before I realized that I was in labor. It was 4 hours from my water breaking to the birth of my baby boy. This was in sharp contrast to my first pregnancy.
My life had become very slow and homebound over the months of pregnancy due to the Pandemic. My lifestyle was very calm, I rested and relaxed a lot and took walks at a nearby park. I also did a lot of yoga and meditation. I loved taking prenatal with Marisa, all the classes were very supportive of me especially when I was exhausted…Marisa never pushed me to do more. I was very very tired by the end of my pregnancy….The yoga class that I took at 38 weeks (via zoom) was otherworldly.”
Prenatal yoga will not only help you be strong, soft and peaceful but will help you connect to the truest essence of you! When you feel that connection to yourself, then a deep bond can develop between you and your baby. From this place of optimal health and well being grows an environment that will support you, and your baby, for your entire life. And when we do this en masse, we create a more peaceful and creative world for all.
Want a little more about Yoga for Motherhood™?
Try this breathing practice to help you feel more connected to yourself and to give you an experience of the information I shared above.
- Sit in a chair or on the floor. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable. If you have Essential oil, put a few drops on each of your palms. (If you do not have essential oils continue without oil). Rub your hands briskly together. Creating some friction and heat. If you have the oil then you can begin to smell the beautiful aroma and even cup your hands loosely over your nose and lower face, breathing deeply. If no oil, place your warm palms over your eyes and gently gaze into the darkened palms, keep breathing gently.
- Next, relax your hands to your lap. Feel your body. Be aware of the outline shape of you in the position you are in. Pull your attention inward from that outline shape. Begin to breathe long, slow and deep.
- If pregnant, feel the body, be aware of the breath and connect inward with your baby. Keeping the posture, relax and observe your breath and draw your attention inward. Have your eyes closed or slightly open to your comfort level.
- If you are not pregnant, you can remember the time(s) when you were pregnant and focus on your child (or children). If never pregnant then focus on yourself more deeply at this time and observe if you naturally connect with the baby that was you long ago.
- After a short time, open your eyes, take a deep breath, look around your space and notice now how you feel. Take that feeling with you as you continue with your day.
Make sure to check out this breathing video I made for my student after she gave birth here.
Marisa Toriggino is a master yoga and meditation teacher, mother and entrepreneur. After a twenty-year career in wellness, she sold her million dollar brick and mortar yoga school in 2019. She now brings her teaching expertise to the online space where she is creating content for folks to slow down, build muscle, sleep soundly and apply Ayurveda lifestyle habits to their daily life. Her content includes special programs for those working with Fertility & Pregnancy. Marisa was among the first to write a prenatal yoga teacher training curriculum that was nationally recognized. Graduates of her programs live all over the world. This curriculum is currently being redesigned for online learning. She has a BA from UC Berkeley. Studied at the UCSF Osher Center and graduated from APPPAH’s PPNE program. She is currently studying at the California College of Ayurveda and will receive the degree Doctor of Ayurveda in 2025.
Marisa was co-founder and owner of Yoga Garden of San Francisco, a studio she ran for 15 years.