Care of the Whole Self and Pregnancy
Written By Maryam Ovissi
One of the most exciting aspects of my book, Care of the Whole Self: Yoga Inspired Practices to Befriend the Self, is seeing how it has been adaptable to anyone, no matter what stage they are in their life. In my work as a Yoga Therapist, I have been able to adapt this framework to support teens, individuals on the journey with cancer, new parents, and the individual who is simply trying to find their way back to peace and self-compassion during these challenging times.
I have been reflecting on the impact of the Covid Era on the prenatal journey, how it affects pregnant people and their families. When we started our in-person classes a few months ago, a pregnant mother attended my vinyasa class. She shared how she needed a space to step away and reconnect to herself and her little one inside. She is working full time and has a family at home that she supports with remote schooling as well.
The impact of this pandemic cannot be underestimated for so many. As of December 2020 APM Research Lab shared, “Our latest update reveals that Black and Indigenous Americans continue to suffer the greatest losses—with both groups now experiencing a COVID-19 death toll exceeding 1 in 800 nationally.” The gender gap is real as well. In a recent article in Fortune magazine, “In September, when schools resumed, many of them with remote learning, 80% of the 1.1 million people who exited the workforce were women. In December, women accounted for all of the net job losses, while men achieved some job gains.”
The overall impact of the Covid-era on teens to the elderly regarding mental health is also now captured with startling data. In February 2021, Nature published an article regarding the research around depression and Covid, “More than 42% of people surveyed by the US Census Bureau in December reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in December, an increase from 11% the previous year.”
Important studies have been ongoing regarding the impact of Covid and pregnancy. These studies have highlighted with clarity the vulnerabilities that exist for pregnant people: “It’s no surprise that respiratory viruses pose a threat to pregnant women, whose lungs are already working harder than usual. As the uterus grows it pushes up against the diaphragm, reducing lung capacity and taxing an oxygen supply divided between mother and fetus. On top of that, pregnancy dials down the immune system so as not to harm the baby. That makes women more susceptible to complications from infection.”
Meets the pregnancy journey by providing tools to take care of the self and baby(ies). All the tools I share in the book are safe. Here, I would like to offer my pregnancy-friendly version of the daily ritual tools. The tools I share are inspired by Yoga and Ayurveda. By honoring specific times of day, one can create lifestyle habits that optimize well-being. Using the tools of yoga, breath, movement and meditation, we invite small and meaningful pauses to the day.
**Enjoy an 8-minute calming prenatal practice video below as well!
Care of the Whole Self: Daily Rituals for Pregnant Mamas!
Morning Rituals - Rise, Acknowledge & Breathe
When you get up, sit on the side of the bed or anywhere you are comfortable. Place your attention and your hands on your belly. Feel free to invite your partner into this ritual. Inhale and feel baby(ies)’s space expand; as you exhale, feel yourself hugging the little one(s) inside. Repeat for 5 breath cycles.
As you continue to breathe, acknowledge your own heart beating and the heart of your little one(s) inside. Invite awe and wonder for this growing life, and for your powerful role in bringing this life into the world.
Add the daily 7 movements of the spine. Check out my video here!
Afternoon Rituals - Pause, Reflect & Rest
The energy it takes to make life is amazing. The body prioritizes baby(ies), so it’s important to acknowledge the fatigue that is experienced and invite small spaces of rest and restoration. Put your feet up or consider laying down on your left side to maximize blood flow to baby for about 15 minutes. Take a moment to hydrate with water and eat some nourishing food or fruit. Close your eyes, take time to check in and rest.
Evening Rituals - Release, Massage & Quiet
Psoas releases can be so delicious for the body as the lower back and psoas are taking on the stress of growing baby. Here is a practice by one of Beloved Yoga’s prenatal teachers, Alyson Maclatchy. Great for an evening practice!
Massage the feet, just don’t massage the ankles or pinky toes too much – they are activating points that are great when you want to stimulate birth. In my book I offer three massages: Face, feet, and hands. Consider one of them with your favorite oil at night.
Highly recommended is a belly baby massage, too! Maybe invite your partner to participate in massage time!
Allow your evening to be a quiet space for you. Curate your time by limiting screen time and consider journaling, reading children’s books out loud, or writing letters to your little one(s) inside!
I hope each person discovers that yoga and Ayurveda are not modalities in which you need to fit into. They are paths that meet you where you are and support you towards your optimal well-being. On April 12, between 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. EST, I have a small segment which will air on Great Day Washington about Care of the Whole Self and how this framework can support the pregnancy journey. Please join me!