Buddha Bellies and Meditating Mummies

Last night I took my first pregnancy yoga class. The best fifteen dollars I’ve spent in a while; It was just brilliant.

I walked into the sea scouts hall late. (I’m bloody late for everything. Even my period.) It felt like a scene from a kung fu film, only the ninjas were all chubby. There were seven or so yoga mats and cushions spaced out around the floor and one at the front of the room in the center, where a goddess with sun bleached curls and a lotus tattoo on her foot welcomed me in with a warm smile.

I took a spot beside the only familiar face in the room; a lady in her 21st week of pregnancy whose slim tummy and glowing complexion made me terribly jealous. Seriously. Who the heck looks that good pregnant?!

I plonked my bottom on the mat and wriggled a cushion under my tailbone, which was digging through the floor and all the way to China. There was no way I was about to try sitting the same way the instructor did; her legs were twisted over each other in a way which completely defied physics and mine had lost all flexibility. Even sitting cross legged normally was a struggle, despite being double jointed and having dislocating hips. I got as comfortable as possible anyway, and connected my thumbs with my forefingers, resting my hands on my knees like they do in the movies.

First we closed our eyes and tried some heavy breathing, focusing on our nostrils. Suprisingly, there’s actually a lot to your nostrils, when you think about it. We did this for a long while til I could feel myself really getting into it. Next we were asked to take a cat-like position on all fours, and I was secretly terrified that bending and flexing like this was going to cause the lady behind me (who was 33 weeks along,) to go into labor right there in the scout hall. But oooh, that felt good. I didn’t realize how bad my back had taken this pregnancy til then. Lengthening my spine and flexing it felt amazing. All the tension from lugging around an extra 10kgs of weight and 20kgs of stress for the past few months dissolved into thin air.

One position involved sitting with our legs wide apart, and we were told to stretch them as far apart as we comfortably could. There was barely a gap between my thighs before I felt the pull between my legs. Considering I was once a dancer who was expected to be able to drop down to the splits in a second, this was slightly embarrassing. But the gentle stretches of “stirring the pot” were perfect. We were told to focus on our pelvic floor muscles and something about the birth cavity. She said most names of things in another language, so you knew she was legit.

Next were lunges in the “warrior position.” Flippin sore, but hilarious to look around the room and see a bunch of kung fu pandas with their hands in prayer, squatting and bobbing. I couldn’t help but let out a wee giggle. I don’t know how good we’d be as actual warriors. Unless perhaps we just sat on our enemies.

Then, I swear to God, we tried legs up the wall. And by some miracle we accomplished it. I really didn’t think I was capable in my plump state, but after some jiggling and squirming, there I was; lying on the floor with my butt against the wall and my legs up in the air! I beamed with pride. Still got it. I even managed to push my bum off the floor so that I rested on my elbows and shoulderblades, but I was suffocating in my boobs so I came back down and stopped trying to be such a daredevil. It didn’t help that I was being kicked in the guts. I wonder what my baby was thinking of all this? Yeah, probably laughing at me too.

To finish the class we did another breathing exercise; a “cool down,” which sounded like we were all clearing out our nostrils. There was probably bits of snot flying around all over the place. Then we all lay on our mats on our sides, a pillow beneath our heads and bellies, and one between our legs, just like bedtime. Then, I kid you not, the instructor got up and put blankies over each of us and tucked us in. I almost cried.

I was suddenly in such a childlike state, but feeling utterly safe and peaceful. I had to stop myself from sucking my thumb or drifting off to sleep. The sun had set, leaving the dark sky streaked with traces of crimson, and all that could be heard other than the flickering of candle flames was the soft brushing of the waves hitting the outside of the building. Bliss.

We were led into the most relaxing meditation. Using my third eye I pictured myself holding my child. I really focused on this image, and the more I did, the happier and safer I felt all snuggled up. I’d totally forgotten I was lying on the floor by this stage. I was in a glowing trance. I could feel the baby in my tummy; his thoughts and feelings. I let go of all my fears and focused my energy in on him. I knew then that the security and tranquility I felt was exactly what my baby was needing of me.

Om… om… om…

I came out of that class feeling ten times lighter and tingling all over. Wowzers. Totally not what I was expecting, but just what I needed. For any of you baby carriers out there, pregnancy yoga is something I definitely recommend. If you’re not, get pregnant and join a class.

Just kidding.

Seriously though.

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