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The Wonders of Yoga: How it helped me in pregnancy and postnatal recovery

On becoming pregnant my intention was to follow Gowri Motha's 'Gentle Birth Method' and to attend some of the self hypnosis classes. I already bought a copy of Francoise Freedman's book 'Yoga for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond' and thought I would work with this in my own time. Gowri was not convinced and emphasised strongly the benefits of yoga in pregnancy. She was adamant that I join the Micro-Movements for Pelvic Release classes and offered me a free taster session.  I had never done yoga before but was ready to try it.

Meeting Francoise for the first time was special. She seemed to have a beautiful aura about her, content, wise and so unassuming. We all set down on mats in a circle and introduced ourselves. There was a calmness and stillness in the room, one of inner peace and reassurance. Each lesson and subsequent session would start with gentle stretches,  focusing on breathing and posture through to quite intense micro-movements which left you feeling invigorated, strengthened and ultimately confident in your ability to give birth naturally. Throughout the sessions Francoise taught with a warmth and truth concern that was so touching and beautiful. I loved the sessions they made you feel safe and cared for. It was such a comfort knowing you were in the hands of someone so knowledgeable. In between sessions I was practising what I learnt every morning at home.

I remember walking up my road one morning whilst pregnant, a lady stopped me and said to me " look strong!" I continued attending all the Yoga classes through to the very end. On the exact due date I gave birth naturally to our baby boy. The birth went quite well, it was hard work, I just needed gas and air to see me through.  I always keep myself in good shape and have my own daily exercise routine. Though if it wasn't for the Yoga, I don't feel I would have been able to sustain myself and be birth fit. However, this would not be the end of my experiences with Yoga.

It was not long before I realised my bladder control was weak. The exercises the hospital gave me to strengthen my pelvic floor weren't working - I was in despair. Luckily I attended some post-natal classes with Francoise and was sent a copy of the Birthlight Handbook 'Post Natal Recovery with Yoga'. I felt I had made some improvement with my bladder control but still was very concerned about it. Coming home from shopping with my baby was extremely difficult. I used to get in a panic hoping I would get to the toilet in time. It seemed like I always needed to empty my bladder. I contacted Francoise again and shared my concerns.

After meeting Francoise I left with a sequence of 5 to 6 different practises. Some lying down, some standing up, there was a lot to remember. They were such specific exercises focusing on breathing and moving such specific parts of my body that I never knew previously existed. Francoise reinforced the importance of having a break between the exercises and feeling totally relaxed while doing them.

I lay my yoga mat next to my baby's play mat and there I exercised three times a day without fail - I needed to get better. Every so often I would meet with Francoise to be sure I was doing the exercises correctly and discuss my progress. Each time I would go away with a greater understanding of the practise, Francoise would add or change some of the sequence I was to take home. Before long I made a significant improvement. The exercises taught me a discipline I had not known before. Tired or not I had to do the sequences three time a day, without fail. Seeing the value encouraged me to purchase a Yoga handbook and I have been doing every morning since.

Francoise, you have taught me so much. G-d Bless you and Birthlight.

Frida Macabi