Thursday, September 19, 2013

UPS for a safe, speedy delivery

When you push your baby out of your body, consider taking your baby's lead for optimal, full body pushing efforts. As your baby starts to descent into the birth canal, his or her head will move from flexion into
extension, and the resistance provided by the cervix will force the whole spine to be involved. Unfortunately, as we age and grow, unless we are conscious of our movement, gravity fails to provide enough resistance to keep the head well integrated into the spine. As a result, many of us end up with heads that move independently of the spine. This condition not only fails to maximize your pushing efforts (you will only have your uterus and increased abdminal pressure from holding your breathe and pushing strongly down,  it also puts a tremendous amount of unnecessary tension on the muscles that hold up the head (imagine the condition of ropes that tether a tent in a storm versus how they are on a calm, sunny day).

Feel the power of your spine with this simple, brief exercise;
To give you an idea of how much more power is available to you with your head well integrated into the spine; try this simple exercise. Take a comfortable seated posture in a chair or on the floor. In either position place your feet on the earth at a 30 angle (heels in, toes out) and widen your knees slightly beyond the feet. Take a deep breathe in and a long breathe out. Place one of your hands on your upper chest, and the other one on your lower ribs, below your breast. With an exhalation, bring your mouth towards your heart. With an inhalation, look up towards the ceiling, with an exhalation, bring the mouth back to the heart. Do this for several cycles of your breathe and as you do, pay attention to any movement that you are feel in your body with your hands. Bring the head back to a neutral posture. Release the hands and take several deep, long slow breathes. Replace the hands back on the chest and lower ribs, with and exhalation, once again bring your mouth towards your heart, this time imagine that you are pressing the back of  your head into a soft but firm object (like a cervix) and begin to look up towards the ceiling. Do this several times with your breathe. I hope that you are feeling your whole body more involved with the movement.

U.P.S. for a safe, speedy delivery. 
Full body pushing includes
 your uterus,
 increased pressure from your abdominals,
 and your spine.

In yoga we practice integrating the spine more fully with the head by initiating our movement in and out of poses with the parts of our body that are meant to lead and that were most prominent in utero, like the mouth and fingers. Consider that this practice will not only maximize your pushing efforts, but as importantly will also provide for more ease and grace in your movement at a time in your life that so much seems to hang off of us!  Sometimes, I remember feeling like a coat hanger, an old dry stick left unnoticed, and collecting dust in the same old corner. With patience and practice, we can walk on this earth as it was meant to me, with our heads held high because we are well grounded, tethered correctly to what is below.

Together, forever in our hearts,