Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Olivia's encounter with her newborn family

Dear Lovelies,

I've heard from our Heather who just had her baby June 8, 2011 at 3:24 p.m. She shared how she loves hearing from her husband, Matt about how she gave birth. She said that the experience was so intense for her that she was unable to open her eyes and see outside of herself. Heather went on to describe herself like a young child, wanting to hear the story over and over again, needing to comb through every nuance, absorbed in awe and disbelief, that such power and enchantment really does exist.

Heather's need to hear her story over and over again reminds me of the image of the physical heart, with its repetitive grooves and how if we want to know something by heart, we need to revisit the encounter often.

Let yourself hear your birth experience over and over again. Ask your partner to repeat his/her account frequently. Verbally repeat your birth experience again and again and again.

Together forever in our hearts,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pregnancy, A Sobering Experience

To my favorite yoginis,

Our conclusion at the end of class, when we diary about a word or phrase that helps to deepen, refine and support pregnancy and childbirth, it truly rings out our very finest selves.

Leeanne, last week referred to her pregnancy experience as “sobering”. I loved her description, it conjured up images of my spiritual journey and the movement away from numbing sedation to eventually reaching into conscious elation.

It is clear for me that my spiritual walk begin with pregnancy. What is also clear is that I may not have been able to be so faithful to my own heart's calling if not for my mother. Isn't it the starting place, in pregnancy, your mother? For the first time for many of us, your relationship with your mother looms so big and mighty. What elements of how she mothered do we want to weave through own own parenting, what needs to be undone and how can we do it better? Eventually, you may, if you're fortunate like me, get to gratitude for the simple fact that this woman opened herself up and gave you life.

Through all of this enmeshment of transient, thoughtful demeanor is the heart and its ability to nurture, understand and guide. We can help to anchor ourselves in its wisdom with the breath and its endless pulsating inside.

This week we help to create more stability and integration by bringing our focus to the ancient physical part of ourselves, the bones as we practice releasing into the ageless energetic part of us, the breath.

Together forever in our hearts,

Maurene, RN, Yoga Teacher

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"I was totally inside myself."

I'm in the hospital and have just heard from a woman who gave birth two days prior. She exclaimed about her birth experience, "I was totally inside myself. I did not have an awareness of anyone outside of me except my husband's voice."

Yoga too is about going inside your self, listening, not for a husband's voice but rather your own inner calling.

Come to yoga and practice hearing from within.

Together forever in our hearts,

Maurene, RN, Yoga Teacher

Friday, May 20, 2011

Partnered Yoga To Prepare For Birth

Birth Blessings Partnered Yoga is a dynamic, innovative childbirth preparation program that takes the marriage of childbirth and yoga to a new level. My intention with its creation is to prepare you well for the energy of childbirth to heighten your awareness to the awe of the experience.

As a couple you will be guided through a yoga session that is designed to simulate the birthing process. Specifically, we begin our session with savasana as the pose reflects the needs of early labor, a time for rest and reflection. We move slowly into active labor, becoming more vigorous with standing poses, hip openers, and intense concentration on breathing. Transition is vocal, and a time to work on creating a stable, resilient foundation. You’ll simulate having your baby and enjoy the extension and opening offered by backbends. We then pause to assimilate, rounding back inside with supportive soothing, cooling forward bends.

You'll be guided in and out of poses in a wave like fashion. Together, you'll ascend slowly into the pose, hold at its apex as the peak of a contraction, and then gradually descend back into a place of pause for more repose.

Approaching labor in this way provides an opportunity to experience childbirth as whole, a rhythmic fluid stream of energy that commands attention, strength and surrender. The program is best suited for couples desiring growth, joy, and expansion through their childbirth experience.

Together forever in our hearts,


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do you remember?

To my favorite yoginis;

Last week we learned yield, the rebound force from the earth moving through the bones in our feet to help create a stable, strong, resilient foundation. Remember? Do you remember too that Sarah shared of her desire to have that kind of stability and grounding in her pelvis? I got the sense from her description of how she felt in her body that her pelvis at times behaved like an unruly, unmanageable child! This makes sense because the hormone relaxin secreted early on in pregnancy actually inhibits the production of connective tissue, the rope like structures that actually hold your bones together. (I am not sure whose idea it was to secrete this hormone so early on in the pregnancy. It seems more reasonable to wait until the last trimester!)

So this week in yoga we will work again with yield as it relates to the pelvis to help support a more stable, cooperative core container.

Lastly but certainly not least, can you remember how strong and beautiful and endearing you are, and that you need every ounce of it to embrace with grace and ease the drastic changes happening in your life?

Please come to yoga and celebrate yourself.

Together forever in our hearts,

Maurene, RN, Yoga Teacher

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Loose hips sink ships

To my favorite yoginis;

Last week we learned yield, the rebound force from the earth moving through the bones in our feet to help create a stable, strong, resilient foundation. Remember? Do you remember too that Sarah shared of her desire to have that kind of stability and grounding in her pelvis? I got the sense from her description of how she felt in her body that her pelvis at times behaved like an unruly, unmanageable child! This makes sense because the hormone relaxin secreted early on in pregnancy actually inhibits the production of connective tissue, the rope like structures that actually hold your bones together. (I am not sure whose idea it was to secrete this hormone so early on in the pregnancy. It seems more reasonable to wait until the last trimester!)

So this week in yoga we will work again with yield as it relates to the pelvis to help support a more stable, cooperative core container.

Lastly, can you remember how strong and beautiful and endearing you are, and that you need every ounce of it to embrace with grace and ease the drastic changes happening in your life?

Please come to yoga and celebrate yourself.

Together forever in our hearts,

Maurene, RN, Yoga Teacher

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's All About You

To my favorite Yoginis;

Mother's day is a wonderful tribute to mothers, and certainly deserving given all of what is demanded of us from our little ones. Unfortunately, one day a year of honor is clearly not enough to insure our own growth and development. Why, If a woman's not careful, by the time her little one leaves for college, they'll be little left to her!

Yoga is a perfect practice to insure your own health and well being.

To help establish a solid commitment to your self, today in class we'll weave our attention into that part of the physical body that provides stability, grounding and flexibility. The bones and their ancient wisdom is our earthly anchor. Their hard outer shell and spongy, fluid core provide a strong, resilient foundation in which to reach sky bound, moving beyond our human tendencies to remain too safe and all too often way too comfortable.

Come celebrate more of your self today in yoga at Harmony in Mashpee 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Together forever in our hearts,

Maurene, RN, Yoga Teacher

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Threads of all of you weave through my thoughts today, this special day of honoring mothers. May we give thanks to the woman who gave birth to us and rejoice in that which we have given birth to.

Together Forever In Our Hearts,

Maurene Merritt, RN, Yoga Teacher

Monday, May 2, 2011

Deepening our Connection

Birthblessingsyoga was created over two decades ago out of my own need to recognize and honor all of what I had gained through childbirth. I reasoned if childbirth could empower me, it could do the same for all women. I reasoned too if only one in a million received what I was given, all of my efforts would not go in vain but rather the world would be richly rewarded.

With more time, I believe that my intentions with birthblessingsyoga may be greater realized. My intentions are

*To recognize and honor birth as a powerful, creative state.

*To prepare you for the physical demands of childbirth.

*To heighten your awareness to birth as a spiritual experience.

Effective Thursday May 5th classes will begin at 3:00 pm and be two hours long. The new cost per class within a series is $16. Also, effective May 5th, a series will go for 8 weeks rather than for 6 weeks. Many of you are in the middle of a series. I ask that we adjust payment to reflect this new schedule. So for example, if you have paid $72. for 6 weeks and you have taken 3 classes, you would owe $56. (128-72) and have 7 classes to attend. The drop-in fee will be increased to $20. per class.

I hope that you are eager to move deeper into what is at the very heart of your childbirth experience.

Together forever in our hearts,

Maurene Merritt, RN, Yoga Teacher

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elsa's Ecstatic Heart

I am just leaving the hospital after witnessing our very own Elsa Parsan give birth to her baby girl Kate, April 17, 2011 at exactly 7:00 pm. My eyes are immediately drawn to a brilliant, glowing full moon on the horizon. I can't help but think of a Holiday that yoginis celebrate that honors the full moon as the brilliancy of our truest nature. Elsa exemplified this Holiday for me tonight. It was in the moments immediately following her birth that I could celebrate, recognizing my own heart's need for expansion, freedom, and exaltation. Elsa was intoxicated in joy. She laughed continuously, for what seemed like an eternity and then she wept in disbelief and gratitude stating "I didn't think I could do it." All the while, her wet, warm newborn remained securely snuggled deep into the bosom of her throbbing, rocking fully alive chest.

Elsa Partan did in fact do it. Elsa gave birth the way she wanted, the way she envisioned, courageously, freely and joyfully. May we all in our hearts and minds send Elsa our congratulations and highest honoring. We all look forward to hearing her story in the weeks to follow.

Forever together in our hearts,

Maurene Merritt, RN, Yoga Teacher

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sara Chants Gavin Out of Her Body

To My favorite Yoginis,

I've just returned from the hospital were Sara sits on the edge of the hospital bed, her hair pinned up and back in a scruffy ponytail, wearing a mismatched flannel pajama set, all casual backdrops for her brilliant, beaming smile. She has just given birth two days ago to Gavin, a handsome, expansively alert young fellow who was comforted by Dad strolling him while Sara and I talked of her experience. Sara had a remarkable birth experience, with a quick ride to the hospital through transition and only 15 minutes of what Sara coined "chanting" her baby out. I asked Sara what helped her through her labor. Sara was quick to respond that is was the sound that she made with every contraction. She said "I could hear you in my mind say to me, Sara you need to let your voice be known, let yourself make sound". Just the week prior, in prenatal yoga we were practicing creating sound through contractions, giving ourselves permission to be heard.

I ask Sara too who was faithful to yoga and wanted her pregnancy/birth to be a spiritual experience, how was her experience spiritual. Sara described two separate occasions. The first one she said was in early labor. She described being alone in her room, huddled over her labor ball, simply humming and rocking. Chad piped in exclaiming that Sara often just disappears like she did, finding moments of enjoyment in her solitude. She said that she was "in another realm". The other event in her labor that she described as surreal is when she was pushing Gavin out of her body.

It is these places of feeling surreal and "in another realm" that many women describe having during their labors. Unfortunately what happens is that life goes on and the demands of a newborn at times are all consuming and we lose these precious, extraordinary moments to the mundane and ordinary. Yoga is a wonderful vehicle to fine-tune the body/psyche to naturally pay attention to subtly where these extremely, delightful states of being exist. Then when we do encounter big events like childbirth, we will be more available to flow with and hold longer what many have searched endlessly to have as their very own throughout time.

In love and light,


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lunges For Ease In Pregnancy

Dear favorite yoginis,

Lunges are essential in pregnancy. A lunge is when one of your legs is fully extended behind you. They are important in pregnancy because they release a very large muscle called the psoas. The psoas attaches the top part of your body to your lower half. It is the muscle that brings your body into a fetal position (flexion of the spine), and is also the muscle that supports extension. Unfortunately cultural habits of driving long distances and sitting in chairs for long periods of time produce a chronic state of flexion when the psoas is contracted. In pregnancy, the condition is exaggerated because the growing weight of your baby tilts the pelvis forward creating more contraction of the psoas. The situation is still further influenced by an inhibited diaphragm that is unable to fully expand into the abdominal cavity because of your growing baby. The diaphragm overlaps the psoas at a tendon at your lower back and thus they have a synergistic relationship.

Such a condition causes tension and pain in your lower back which is one of the major discomforts of pregnancy. A tight psoas can also deter giving birth because when you have your baby your spine needs to extend which will require the support of a healthy, toned psoas. Simply walking with run way model hips can help to lengthen the psoas. Lunges in yoga too help to synchronize full body breathing and a release of the psoas.

Unfortunately lunges are contradicted in pregnancy because they are believed to put too much weight on a unstable pelvis do to the influence of relaxin. I've created a safe, stable lunge by resting the pelvis on a chair while the back leg reaches fully into extension.

Come to yoga for ease in your pregnancy and prepare for birth.

In love and light,


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So you endured natural childbirth, what's next?

To my favorite yoginis,

Congratulations on achieving what I consider to be one of the most difficult challenges in a woman's life. If you are anything like me, after I gave birth to Candyce 23 years ago, I felt like King Kong at the very tip of the sky scrapper pounding my chest in elation. I am!! For like him, in one glorious moment I felt as though I had conquered the blood coursing through my veins. It truly was a high like no other, one that I continue to look back on in awe, inspiration and contemplation. And although, unfortunately the high faded, what is really clear for me is that, childbirth is a master teacher of transformation, if you want it to be.

There are some hefty gains available to one who needed to step way beyond their comfort zone, which you did to give birth to your baby. You can roam this earth a little lighter, because you know deep down in your bones that, regardless of what earthly catastrophic events that may occur, you simply cannot die. You become a survivor, and if need be, untouchable, unwilling to move from a rare, new strength that becomes the only thread within you that is truly essential.

What if you learned to live from that place, that space that you were forced to inherent from the scuffle of childbirth? How might that influence your life? How might that influence your mothering? Consider how might such a focus help you to hold your strength to drive your passion. Consider too that if you where brave enough to attain natural childbirth that you have what it takes to risk in life and with confidence move in the direction of your dreams. Consider that you may not need to come down from the sky scrapper!

If you have come all this way and have achieved what you set out to do, please don't forget to take ownership of the gains that are also inherent in risk taking. In my next posting, we will adorn ourselves with the golden nuggets that successful venturest of childbirth can enjoy and then how to go about wearing your new jewels.

In love and light,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

BirthBlessings Yoga is Moving to Mashpee!

I am very excited to announce BirthBlessings Prenatal yoga is moving to Harmony Chiropractic & Yoga at Deer Crossing in Mashpee. Our new time is Thursday from 3:30 - 5:00 pm. I believe you will find the space most accomodating. It is bright, spacious, beautiful and clean. No need to bring anything but your lovely, budding selves as the studio houses all necessary props.

Please come join us for a special celebration on Opening Day March 17th, 2011 3:30-5:00 pm


*Birth Art

*Partnered Yoga


In love and light,


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Practice Being Still

To My Favorite Yoginis,

Next week is a major Holiday for yogis all around the world. It is Shivaratri, the celebration of Shiva who in Indian mythology is Lord of the Universe. There are many facets to Shiva, and volumes are written by religious scholars interpreting Hindu scripture on attempts at attaining him. The Shiva that I wish to explore with all of you is the one that will help you endure childbirth. It is the Shiva that as my Guru says is "always supremely serene, quiet, and still".

If you attempt to hold what moves inside of you while giving birth, you will be sorely misguided. If however, you attempt to hold Shiva, that aspect of the Self that is still, then you may better endure childbirth's wrath. Too, you just may realize an opportunity of a life time.

In our last yoga class, here is how Heather Benway experienced stillness;

“My physical experience of stillness come from a firm and grounded stance, in which my feet are in full, stable contact with the earth. My emotional experience of stillness comes from focusing on the breath. It helps me to calm and sometimes even quiet the mental chatter that distracts me from the moment.”

Elsa Partan shared her experience of stillness too;

*My experience of stillness is a blank mind and a feeling of relaxation.
* I can best hold my experience of stillness by breathing deeply, closing my eyes.
*During class, I also felt very still when sitting back to back with my partner during the exercises and when I was experiencing a good stretch.

Come to yoga and practice being still.

In love and light,


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jessica Shares Her Birth Story

Dear Ones,

It is brave for Jessica to come to prenatal yoga and share her story. It is a heroic act because sharing her story is a form of self honor. Let's get real, women don't just have this incredible, intensely demanding, complex, extraordinary experience and go home and forget about it. We don't. Maybe we would like to, but we don't. Nor do we go home and give our entire being over instantly to our new born babies. It doesn't work like that.

The reality is that we go home and roam in a body that now houses these bold, heavy earthbound sensations. Open achy hips and throbbing thighs that feel robbed of their sockets. The smell of fresh, mucous blood and the salty beads of sweat formed on our brows during pushing. Cooling ice chips, and the machine by our bedside that echoed the reassuring sound of our babies running, thumbing, beating heart beat. We examine the sounds we made, voices of loved ones and care providers, and our feelings about how close we came to having the birth that we imagined. Finally, over time, we can allow our feelings/thoughts/sensations to fade, drift into a memory and put it to bed.

So when a woman comes and shares her story, she is making a statement about who she is. She is honoring herself for being more than a physical body, that she has emotions and thoughts that require processing, integration, and assimilation. Then, if she is so moved, she may wish to follow the story deeper. Like me, I never put my story to bed. To the contrary. I followed the pangs in my heart that called me ever deeper to know more of the origins of birth. Jessica too began to explore more when she described her experience of natural childbirth as "survival". It can be a fitting description of birth, survival, one that I wish to explore more in my next posting. What do women have to gain from enduring natural childbirth? How can we contain what we have attained? Stay with me as we go deeper into childbirth.

In love and light,


Saturday, January 22, 2011

More On Intention And Rituals

Sarah and Chad have asked me to help them prepare for birth with a private partnered yoga session. Here is an excerpt from my introductory letter encouraging them to use rituals at our session to help support their birth intention, and enliven their experience with beauty, substance, and power.

We can add weight to ritual by framing them in the elements. Consider the following possibilities.

Earth is the grounding, solid, heavy quality needed to give birth. It is the heavy, open pelvis. It's the contracting uterus pulling you down, the blood of a bloody show, and the placenta after birth.



Jessica's mom passed around crystals at her daughter's baby shower inviting guests to meditate and send Jessica blessings and love for her birth. I noticed entering Jessica's room at the hospital that she had the crystals resting on her pregnant belly while she was sleeping.

Fire is the fuel you need to push your baby out, and remain focused on your intention despite tendencies that may keep you feeling small, contracted, and inadequate. You may wish to reflect on your life thus far and call forth those activities or experiences that required you to dig deep? Do you have a momentum symbolic of that time? What reminds you of transformation?

*Unlit candles
*Graduation caps

In Love and Light,


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Create A Ritual For Your Intention

Now that you have your intention, it is time to ground it in ritual. Remember, intention is purposeful creation of thought and moves in realms that are very difficult for us to hold. Despite its' elusive nature, she is worthy of pursuit since intention has the power to direct energy, and energy moves matter including the physical body (even pregnant bodies)! One of the ways we can hold such subtle refinement is to surround ourselves with items that help to arouse its essence. Rituals do just that. Rituals use items in conjunction with activities for the purpose of igniting intention.

The very finest display of ritual I ever encountered was with a woman who gave birth at the hospital. The very moment I walked into her room, my full attention went to an altar she had created on the bureau. Her altar was so elaborate, I couldn't seem to get enough, looking at each of the figures, resisting my temptations to hold and feel them through my fingers.

Many of the items placed on the alter were pieces that she had created ritual around. For example, do you see the bag of small stones in one of the pictures? Every time she thought of herself giving birth and wanting to be open and free, she took one of the pepples and placed it in the small box with the mother and child figure carved on the top.

Consider creating ritual around a steady, continuous yoga practice. Bring a small floral pillow, or even one of the bolsters we use so frequently in our class at the hospital. When it is time to give birth, bring the items with you to help remind you of your intention.

Here are some other ideas you may want to consider using to create ritual for your birth. Integrate the elements into your story to further help ground your intention i.e., earth, water, fire, air and ether. Be creative and have fun!

*bright floral pillows
*perfume sprayer filled with rose water
*a bowl of rose water
*sage sticks
*candles (please, they cannot be lit in the hospital)
*chimes to hang on IV poles

In love and light,


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Listening For Intention In Malasana

My dearest ones,

When I gave birth to my daughter Candyce now almost a quarter of a century ago, I knew nothing about yoga, power in your spine called kundalini, or transformation. All I knew was that I believed that by giving birth naturally I was doing the best for my baby and that the process somehow would bring me closer to her. Of course, I was so madly in love in my pregnancy, I wanted to drown in the intense love that I felt inside of me. I wanted to merge with what was inside of me.

My intention for natural childbirth may have been irrational, but love is not about what is explainable but rather what one is willing to risk for the sake of truth, connection and happiness.

There is an asana called Malasana (squatting) that provides the perfect conditions for one to hear intention in pregnancy. In squatting, there is an opening, with the thighs taken wide, and the womb exposed to daylight. Simultaneously, the pose provides protection needed for introspection, as the spine drapes over the portal to new life. The pose physically is effortless. The work is all inside, breathing, listening, waiting. Waiting, not just for the baby, but what is ever lasting, the glory in the moment.

In love and light,