I had been attending yoga classes for about a year and a half before I became pregnant. I attended three or four teachers' classes before I found the one for me. I loved what I learned. I couldn't wait to go to class each week and learn new things about yoga, myself and my body. I incorporated those teachings in my home practice as well.
Going to a class regularly advanced my practice by leaps and bounds. It was the first time that I heard about the other seven limbs of yoga; those beyond asanas. I fell in love! I couldn't learn enough. I started reading books and magazines about yoga. I began to meditate. I also began to reexamine the way I lived my life. I realized that yoga would be a lifelong journey in which I would never arrive "there," but rather enjoy the fruits along the way.
So, when I became pregnant, one of my first priorities was to find a pregnancy yoga class. I was crushed when I learned that "my" yoga studio did not have a class that would fit my schedule. There was another studio a bit further from my house about which I had heard good things. They had a class that would work. I swallowed my disappointment and decided to give it a go. This class and my new found kula turned out to be the single most supportive thing in my pregnancy. There is a lesson there, but I'll save that for another post.
I've posted before about how yoga helped me physically during pregnancy, but finding my kula meant so much more than that. My teacher, who was also pregnant at the time, was nothing short of awesome! I warmed immediately in the presence of twenty other mamas who were there to support and learn from each other. I learned about pregnancy and birth, about the strength of my own body to do what the mother of all mamas, Mother Nature, had designed it to do, about giving myself up to the experience and about my own power. Watch out world! I'm here, I'm pregnant and I'm strong!
I don't live close to my family and friends, so during my pregnancy, when I really needed support and information, I got it all from my kula. I found out about doctors, natural remedies, breastfeeding, stores that sell used children's stuff. I heard about Attachment Parenting, co-sleeping, and babywearing, all of which are integral to my approach to being a mama.
I learned about how yoga could support the birth experience I wanted to have. I practiced poses that would not only ease labor pains, but move the baby into a comfortable position, and use gravity to help the baby move through the birth canal.
I think without my kula I would have been frightened of birth. I would have been frightened of the unknown. With yoga, I did not experience an iota of fear about the birthing process (anxiety about the baby's health, yes; excitement about not being the size of a rhinoceros, definitely! But fear, nope!)
My community of mamas helped me understand that I could make choices about my birth experience, and I could take actions to support those choices; I had the power to birth a 10+ pound baby without medication; that birth does not occur on a timetable dictated by doctors and hospitals; and that giving birth is an experience to relish, not to dull, shorten nor sleep through.
The birth of my son was wondrous and beautiful. I humbly give thanks to the mamas of my kula.