The mother is everyone’s first guru, or teacher. The universe itself is the feminine aspect and all mothers are expressions of the Goddess energy. If you are a mother-to-be, you have the great responsibility and joyful prospect of preparing yourself to give birth to a beautiful soul. This is your great gift to humanity and that is why it is wonderful to see your interest in preparing well for this momentous occasion.
Many of the modern day problems of body and mind, difficulties in childbirth, and childhood illness, are caused by wrong habits and mental stress. Yoga provides a remedy for many of these ills. The postures help to keep the body in good health. And through the breathing practices, relaxation, and meditation, nerve centers are energized and blockages released. Vital energy is brought into every cell of the body and toxins are released and removed.
Particularly during pregnancy, but really throughout one’s life, I recommend eating a healthy, vegetarian diet that can be easily digested and the nutrients well-absorbed by your system and your baby’s. It is important for pregnant women to keep their bodies relaxed, without stiffness or tension. In India, pregnant women take a weekly oil bath. This is a time when warmed sesame oil is applied all over the body, in a gentle and relaxing way. Unless prescribed by a doctor, I don’t recommend taking any medications or drugs during pregnancy or childbirth because of the potential effect on the unborn child.
But these are only the physical aspects to healthy pregnancy. While what you put into your body is very important at this time, thought is also a food for the mind. Thinking proper thoughts is an important part of Yoga and when you are pregnant you should take even extra care not to put in undesirable thoughts because these are transferred to the baby. When we put loving, compassionate, peaceful, and elevating thoughts into the mind, harmful or negative thoughts will fall away. Anxieties will be relieved, along with stress and tension. This can be achieved through the practice of meditation.
I always recommend that pregnant women be careful of what they put into their minds and I encourage them to read scriptures, holy books, the lives of heroes and heroines. If a woman wants a saintly baby, she’ll fill her room with photographs of saints and read their biographies, rather than reading crime novels and watching sensational movies. Whatever the qualities are that you would like to develop in yourself and in your child, cultivate these now by creating a conducive environment in which these uplifting thoughts can take root and blossom.
The environment in which a pregnant woman lives is greatly important. Traditionally in India, pregnant women go to stay with their mothers where they will be specially pampered and made comfortable. A happy environment is created to avoid any shocks or mental disturbances. They will be surrounded by loved ones who will support them to be happy and light-hearted and not to get into any negative or undesirable moods. This is a time to be in pleasant company, with the right kind of people to love and support you.
Many people ask me about the best approach to childbirth. I recommend that you find the childbirth approach that you feel most comfortable with, but try and have it be as natural as possible. There are various ways to explore and find what is best for you and your baby. Some women are anxious about giving birth. They are afraid it will be painful or difficult. These kind of ideas are not going to help you. Instead, continually reinforce the idea that giving birth is a very natural process. There is nothing to worry or to be anxious about. Keep your mind strong and affirm that you will have a natural and healthy delivery.
Preparing for the birth of a child is only the first step in becoming a mother. Even before the baby is born you are guiding your child. After the baby is born you should continue to raise the child with all the positive and healthy things you can provide. Continue to take care of yourself and your baby’s health. Though I recommend waiting three months after childbirth to re-start the Yoga postures, there is no need to stop deep relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation. Babies are very sensitive to their mothers’ moods so take care to keep your mind calm, peaceful, and balanced. Expose your child to a good and nurturing environment. Read him or her uplifting stories. Take enough time to help your child develop good qualities and remember that example is the best teacher.
I encourage all parents to be truly devoted to their child’s welfare and proper development. This can only be done if you take the time that is needed to spend with your child and guide him or her. I always say that a child should come first because you are guiding a soul; you are raising future citizens of our world. If you have other things that are more important to do, that is fine, but then don’t have a child. As you guide your child, be sure that you do so in a loving way. Never correct or discipline your child out of anger. If there are any corrections to be made, make them in a loving way. Your child should always feel loved by you. The child should grow up understanding that, “Mommy and daddy are correcting me because they love me and want me to grow in the proper way.”
A child should always feel loved by its parents. Today there are a lot of psychological problems in the minds of children. Taking care of a child’s mind is even more important than taking care of its body. If an organ goes amiss, you can transplant another in its place, but you can never transplant the mind. The relationship between the parents also affects the child greatly. If there is tension between the two parents, the child will be hurt because of his or her love for both people. Face any problems and find solutions together. Let your common interest in the child’s welfare promote harmony.
I am so delighted that you are utilizing the tools of Yoga—a world-renowned and ancient science of human development and spiritual unfolding—to help you prepare for the joyous arrival of your child. If you really want to have a healthy and happy pregnancy and delivery, take care of every minute of your life. This holistic approach is Yoga. May you and your family be filled with peace and joy, love and light. Om Shanthi.