Prenatal/Postnatal, Visual Drishti, Yoga Practice, Yoga Tips & Tricks

5 Yoga Tips for Birth

While all my cool SXSW friends were there for Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s keynote and Jason Bateman and other shenanigans last week, the husband and I were hiding from the rain in a 5-hour birthing refresher course. I admit that I was super bummed about this. But at the end of the day, I was happy to be dry and warm, and we quite enjoyed the birthing class! Chan was fantastic, engaging and brought up a lot of things that we had forgotten from our first birth experience.

I didn’t take any birth prep classes with my first pregnancy, like Bradley method or Hypnobirthing or Lamaze. The one birthing class we attended was more of a hospital prep class – what our drug options were, what to expect when we check in at the hospital, procedures, “what if” situations, who is in the room, what the rules were regarding food/drink/visitors, what to expect during recovery and the checkout process. So, nothing really to do with the actual physical experience of birthing a baby.

Instead, I relied solely on my own reading (and I read A LOT and watched a TON of birth videos) and the information I picked up during my prenatal yoga class. With everything considered, I probably relied the most on my ashtanga practice to get me through the hard back labor contractions without an epidural.

The birthing class with Chan brought back quite a few memories, and so I went through her notes, compared them with the ones I had from a Prenatal for Partners workshop with Meg and then all of the wonderful reminders from yoga classes throughout this pregnancy. Some key things I’m trying to remember for the big event:

1. Drishti
Obviously, drishti is a huge part of my practice (hence, the blog name!), and there are quite a few ways to go about it to find the right visual focus to tap into whatever form of calm is needed. Since I labored on hands and knees over a raised hospital bed, I had a plethora of wall plugs to focus on.


One visual that often pops up on the message board I frequent is that of a bagel, which is approximately 10 centimeters in diameter. Visualization to encourage full dilation!


Another visual mentioned in class was that of a blooming flower to encourage dilation and openness.


2. Mantras
Repeating mantras can be a big part of meditation to clear the mind of extraneous thoughts and get to a more peaceful, calmer place. I liked this one that Bea shared during her SXSW yoga class:

Happiness is what happens.

It’ll remind me to be present in the moment and feel encouraged by whatever progress (big or small) is taking place in my body.

These are some other mantras I found that could be useful:

One breath closer to holding baby in my arms.

I know that my body has the power and capability to give birth naturally.

Ride the wave of each contraction. Open and release.

3. Breath control
While ujjayi is my go-to breathing technique, it is designed for building heat in the body. Depending on the room conditions and how I’ll be feeling at the moment, using Lion’s breath, horse lips or even a slow open-mouthed blowing exhale will steer me away from any kind of panic that might arise.

4. Hip openers
I probably won’t be dropping into pigeon pose, but any variation of a squat is helpful for opening the hips and letting gravity do some of the work.

I love the laboring position called “Captain Morgan,” which makes use of one leg up. (Captain Morgan was one of the brands I worked on earlier in my advertising career.) I remember my L&D nurse last time suggesting this with a hip-rocking motion to help move the baby down. We also talked in class about how this position can encourage the baby to continue rotation down and move the head away from mama’s spine to relieve back labor.

This Captain Morgan visual is from an online promotion, but the saying could be a great mantra too!

This Captain Morgan visual is from an online promotion, but the saying could be a great mantra too! Source:

5. Pressure on the third eye
I love doing this if I’m feeling congested, tired or just need a physical place to concentrate some energy. In class, I would either press my forehead into a block or lean into stacked fists. This also forces me to close my eyes and go inward.

We’re about 5 weeks away (give or take)! I’m feeling so much more prepared for what’s to come. Now if only we had the house ready to welcome baby 2.

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