As her big day draws near Kate will be feeling both excited and nervous as she prepares for the birth of the royal baby. It has been reported that Kate has been using yoga to help her through her pregnancy.
The Duchess of Cambridge is one of a growing number of expectant mothers turning to yoga to help ease physical and emotional strain, allowing them to connect with their babies and to prepare themselves for labour. Regular yoga trains the body to be fit and supple through easy to use strengthening and stretching exercises. It also helps calm and focus the mind with simple breathing techniques, which can be drawn upon during the most challenging moments of labour.
Over the years I have helped many women prepare for birth and I receive countless emails from grateful new mothers who have had wonderful births helped by the techniques that they have practiced with me during class or taken from my book and DVD. Most of them say yoga gave them confidence and prepared them to face this monumental event. After all you wouldn't attempt a marathon without training for it.
"Tara, I cannot thank you enough for what you have taught me and for your support. The yoga you teach and the space you create has allowed me to learn how to let go of control, of the tension and of the fear so that I could open myself up to this experience. You may have only seen me once a week but I used your DVD regularly and practiced enough that if I closed my eyes I could see you leading the class from one pose to another. You have such a great energy and a clear commitment to women to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy birth. I was surprised at how helpful all the yoga I had learnt from you was throughout the birth of my baby boy and I don't know how I would have coped without it.
I hope you continue to tranform the lives of pregnant women as you did mine."
I have seen how yoga makes women feel more confident to take charge during labour, to know how to use their bodies correctly allowing gravity to assist the birth process rather than lying down helplessly while others intervene.
Here are some of my tips:
Yoga postures to help prepare for labour-
Standing with the feet hip width apart and parallel. Imagine sitting in a chair as your hips move back and down but keep the knees over the ankles, and lift through your spine. Hold for 3-5 breaths and come back up to stand.
Inhaling raise the arms up by the ears (keeping the shoulders down) as you exhale bend your knees to lower and inhale bring the palms together to a prayer position as you come back up to stand.
Repeat 5 times to strengthen the legs.
On your hands and knees with the wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips make circles with the hips. Breathe deeply and continue making circles in one direction for a minute or so and then change direction circling for another minute or so. These circles can help to free up the hips and give the baby room to get into a good position. These circles can be practiced during pregnancy and can also be helpful during labour. You can also sit on a birthing ball and make circles with your hips.
Golden thread breathing or candle flickering breath for labour:
Sit cross legged on the floor or sit on a chair. With the mouth relaxed and slightly open, breathe in through the nose and out softly through the mouth. Imagine with each breath that you are blowing a golden thread into the distance, visualise this golden thread travelling further and further with each breath.
Imagine you are blowing a candle, the flame is flickering but you are blowing softly enough so that the flame never blows out.
This is a helpful breathing technique to use during contractions.
A registered senior teacher with Yoga Alliance UK, Tara can be seen regularly on the Sky TV channel, Body in Balance and has been placed by the Evening Standard as one of the top 5 teachers in the UK today. She teaches dynamic yoga, pregnancy yoga and post natal yoga. Tara's "Pregnancy Health Yoga" book with sample DVD is available from Amazon.
Tara has sold over 70,000 pre and post natal DVDs.