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,