I have always considered myself to be an advocate for women at all stages of life. I began during my teenage years being a carer for my mum and through to the end of her life, this continued into my midwifery training and practice, welcoming 2 little souls into the world and becoming a mother myself - it has now lead me to this point; teaching pregnancy, postnatal and mum & baby yoga.
During my pregnancy yoga teacher training (PYTT) I discovered how much more there is to yoga and how it beneficial it is for women. If we just take a moment to look at it from a physiological perspective and the effects practicing yoga has on our central nervous system (CNS).
Adrenaline and cortisol are released when we are stressed/tense/nervous/anxious/scared, causing our heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure to increase. It may cause excessive sweating, increase core temperature, metabolic changes, stomach/bowel irritation, panic attacks. Cortisol & adrenaline can be very useful responses to stress or eminent danger as part of the 'fight or flight' mechanism. However, we are no longer are prey for lions, tigers or bears (oh my!) and our brain interprets this response of increased heart rate/ increased cortisol as DANGER! DANGER! That part of our brain responsible for this cant separate between implied danger (ie. financial worries, losing your job etc) and actual physical danger (being attacked) it processing them both the same way.
This continues the cycle of negative feedback; once the adrenaline and cortisol have subsided as the heart and respiratory rate have slowed we can then experience fatigue, low mood, poor sleep, increased/suppressed appetite, headaches... All of these can then trigger more feelings of stress or DANGER! and so on and so forth.
So, we should just stop being stressed, right?!
Breaking that cycle is more complex than breathing...but it's a great place to start! By taking time away from whatever is triggering our tensions and allowing ourselves to solely focus on breathing we can impact that physiological response pretty quickly. By allowing our breath to take the lead we can slow our heart rate, respiratory rate, calming our CNS and all the responses that follow.
How often do you think about breathing?
We do it autonomically all day and night, every day and night. But by observing your breath; is it shallow? is it deep? is it fast? is it slow? are you holding your breath? do you allow your breath to completely exhale before taking your next one? Just observing that during that time helps us to become more aware of ourselves and our feelings. And then we practice. The more we practice the better we get.
So, if that can work for every body then imagine what a more focussed approach can do for women? Pregnancy, pregnancy loss, postnatal, premenstrual, peri menopause, menopause, difficulties with fertility. All of these and much more are capable within us yet how do we deal with it? I cannot wait to learn even more about the practice of yoga specifically for women. This amazing book by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli was incorporated into my PYTT and I use many elements of it within my teaching now. I have a feeling this book to going to become even more relevant to me during my own practice of yoga and my teachings.