Our journeys of conception, pregnancy, birth and mothering are journeys of learning, change and transformation. Through coming to know, love and nurture our babies we ourselves walk a path of great inner learning, change and letting go. And it is this inner journey of transformation through mothering which my forthcoming book Milestones of Motherhood explores.

Pregnancy, labour and birth bring us many lessons in inner reflection, learning, change and surrender. Each week in my Pregnancy Yoga and Birth Preparation classes we begin with a sharing circle, where mums share their experiences, hopes, feelings and fears with others who listen, smile and understand. Pregnancy can be such a tough path to walk, as can preparing for and coming through labour. There are so many things to consider, the stakes are so high, and so much is beyond our control.

It is this interplay of anxiety and lack of control which causes tension for so many of us, yet our learning here can be to slowly realise there is much we cannot control, and gradually begin to soften any rigid ways of thinking, worry and anxiety. Rather than control, we can shift our perspectives to that of nurturing the natural process as best we can. And this shift in attitude is such valuable preparation for birth and mothering.

We can learn that although we cannot change the outcomes, issues and progress of our pregnancy, we can nurture our body and mind as best we can. We can support our body to nurture our baby through good quality rest, nutrition and gentle exercise, as well as tending to our minds, thoughts and feelings and drawing on emotional support and connection from those around us. We can start to lessen our anxieties by gently beginning to soften any rigid ways of thinking about controlling the future and instead focus on how we can become more and more gentle, kind and attentive to ourselves to nurture the natural unfoldment of our journey.

We can learn to deepen our intuition, to begin to listen to our body and hear the needs She is conveying. We can give ourselves permission to meet these needs….to let go in ways we may have been forcing ourselves to continue. We can learn that saying ‘no’ or ‘not today’ to others, to outer work, family or social commitments, whilst sometimes uncomfortable, is actually listening within and saying an affirmative ‘YES’ to ourselves, our bodies, our energy and our precious babies. And this is certainly good preparation for mothering….learning to listen to what is right for our babies and ourselves and having the courage to meet these needs.

In our Pregnancy Yoga, Post Natal and Women’s Wellness Yoga classes I always ask women attending to listen to their own bodies alongside my teachings and to run my suggestions through their inner compass. What is right for them? What may not be? What may serve them better? As well as hopefully creating the most appropriate and nourishing yoga practice for each individual, I also feel this approach is empowering and is great preparation for mums to listen to themselves and their babies first on their journeys of pregnancy, birth and mothering. I always feel immensely happy when I see women adapting the teachings and postures to suit their own needs, either working more strongly or more gently, or giving themselves the good deep rest and relaxation they need nestled in the cosy blankets if the asana practice doesn’t feel appropriate to their energy levels.

Yoga is an effective way of beginning to deepen our intuition and understandings of our body, as we learn to develop awareness of ourselves through the many different landscapes of our being.

How is your body feeling in all of her awe-inspiring detail?

How are you experiencing pregnancy and the presence of your baby within your wombspace?

What is the experience of your breath, is she shallow, high, deep, rushed, ragged, flowing, gentle…?

What are you experiencing across your emotional landscapes of heart and feeling?

What are you experiencing through your mental landscapes of mind, thought, hopes, preferences, fears and anxieties?

To what extent are you hearing your intuition, instinct and inner wisdom? What is she conveying? And are we able to listen?

By tuning into ourselves on all of these levels regularly we gradually start to experience more of the teachings of Yoga; we begin to become more familiar with the many landscapes that constitute our being and experiences. We begin to understand that we are not our experiences, but that we are something different, something deeper; that what we experience changes, and that we are able to positively influence our inner experiences through awareness, breathing, reflection and relaxation.

Pregnancy, labour and mothering offer us the opportunity to begin to know ourselves more deeply, to begin to let go of control and rigid mindsets and deepen into ourselves, our bodies, minds, hearts and intuition and learn to go with the flow and nurture the natural process which is unfolding within and through us.

My next article will explore how we can surrender control of our labour and learn to nurture the physiological process rather than control it or fight against it. These are the issues we explore each week in our weekly Sunday Pregnancy Yoga and Birth Preparation classes.

Be gentle on yourselves along this journey of change, surrender and learning to love.

Clare x