I found this gem of a book, copyright 1979, for 50 cents at my library’s book sale last year. I wasn’t even pregnant at the time, but the cover photo and the 70 other photographs inside told me that the 50 cents would be well worth it. Unitards, feathered hair, afros and bad pornstaches galore! How could I say no?
More than anything, I wanted to see how yoga was presented 35 years ago. There are times that I forget that hippies from the ’60s and ’70s were practicing yoga in the U.S. since I’m only experiencing the resurgence of today’s yoga. Also, as a child of the ’80s and ’90s, I don’t have any direct reference to how life was back then.
For the most part, what’s presented in the book is pretty much the same as what I’ve been hearing in my prenatal yoga classes and in the refresher birthing class. It emphasizes being emotionally calm, centering through meditation and other non-asana focused aspects of yoga like breath.
I do love all the “hippy words” they use throughout the book. Peace, joy, gratitude, contentment, heightened life experience, directing energy toward greater health and vitality. I feel more zen already.
So in addition to cleansing breaths (like pictured above), I learned about a new pranayama practice I’d never heard of: Anal Sphincter Contraction. [Insert giggling like an immature teenager.] It’s supposed to strengthen “the power of the downward-pushing energy called apana vayu, whose function it is to push the baby out of the birth canal.” It’s also supposed to help with hemorrhoids and constipation.
How it’s done: Sit in easy pose. Inhale slowly and retain the breath. Turn chin down into the chest. While holding the breath, contract and relax the anus in quick succession – 20 to 50 contractions.
Let’s just say this is way more awkward to me than kegels.
Getting into the asana section of the book, most of it seemed pretty on par with the instruction I’ve received in various classes. Matsyasana (fish pose) is still one of my favorites in ashtanga, and the book didn’t shy away from gentle back bends.
I did raise an eyebrow to the cross-body twists they suggest up through 7 months of pregnancy. As much as I wanted to ring out my spine at that point, there would be NO WAY to have any room for such a twist coming up on 7 months.
The book also suggested variations of salabhasana up through 4 months of pregnancy. I had to skip all of these while at Wanderlust Fest and swap with camel pose because once you start showing even a tiny bit, it’s really uncomfortable (and I imagine quite unsafe) to have all of that weight lying on the belly area.
It was a fun, quick read and entertaining enough for the hefty price of 50 cents. I’d been eagerly wanting to share about this book since I bought it but then thought to wait until I was actually pregnant to give it a thorough, more relevant perspective. Now at 39 weeks, maybe something in here will keep me in a calm, content state as I wait for labor to begin.