Tara Stiles is an internationally renowned yogi, the founder of Strala Yoga, and a best-selling author. In her new class, Prenatal Yoga: The Complete Guide, she provides safe and effective yoga routines that will bring you energy, ban morning sickness, and so much more.
Yoga, at its best, has the wonderful capacity to heal, connect you back to your intuition and awareness, build balanced strength and mobility in your body, and energize your whole self. The secret is simple: The magic isn’t locked in the poses. It’s in you. How we practice, and how we treat ourselves while we practice, makes all the difference on the effects and benefits we receive.
Of course, before doing anything, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor about these things. It’s helpful to speak with a qualified professional who knows your own personal case history.
If you are currently pregnant or trying to conceive, first off, congratulations, what an exciting time for you! I also know firsthand the potential stress, tension, fear, and worry that can easily go along with this time.
Your yoga practice has the potential to dissolve this stress and reconnect you to your natural, radiant self, but the magic isn’t in the poses or visible practice. It’s in how you relate to yourself, how you choose to be in your body and mind.
We can easily bring tension into our healing practices, and this happens so often in our yoga and well-being time. It’s simply how we’re used to living. We force, push, and struggle our way toward goals in life, and we can’t help but bring this into everything we do, including our healing time. How we are is what we get.
Yoga is a fantastic opportunity to come back into agreement and harmony with ourselves by changing how we practice. In this way, we get to create exactly how we want to be, move, feel, and thrive.
Drop: Get out of your comfort zone.
Replace with: Expand your comfort zone.
Begin where you’re comfortable, and move easily from here. This sounds simple, but we all know a very different mantra: Get out of your comfort zone. While this one may be catchy in a social media post, it’s a tension-inducing practice of not liking where you are, and attempting to force your way to somewhere you would rather be.
Here’s a better way. Begin where you’re comfortable. Start where you are movable, so you can move easily. Take a big deep breath to check in with yourself. Now explore everywhere around this place. If you are only comfortable in child’s pose, or on your hands and knees, begin there. Soften, take a big deep breath, and start to explore around, in every direction. We exist in limitless potential, so don’t get stuck treating your yoga like linear, goal-oriented poses. We all know it’s not the rigid endpoints and agendas that matter; it’s how you are right here, right now. So put exactly this into how you practice.
Drop: Nail the pose.
Replace with: Get interested in the process.
Forget about the poses. Focus on you, moving with grace and coordination, in everything you do. When we go after a goal, we might end up with the goal, but we ignore how we feel every step of the way. This always results in anxiety and frustration. If we don’t feel good along the way of getting where we want to go, we also won’t feel good when we get there because we’ve practiced not feeling good. Contentment goes out the window, and the real kicker is we impede our actual potential for progress.
We can do better and achieve far more by practicing how we move through our lives and responding to what we discover in our bodies and minds. When we come into harmony with ourselves and learn fully to use what we have, we find that what we have is more than enough to get wherever we want to go. We also find that we can get much further by feeling good than is ever possible through stress and struggle.
Drop: Follow the rules.
Replace with: Stay connected to you.
We get so obsessed with rules that seemingly work for other people in a past moment in time that we wind up clinging to the what instead of the how that we really need.
A lovely gal in Strala training shared with the group that she felt wonderful and so much better that day, and the main thing she changed was that she ate a piece of cheese in the morning. Now, this is pretty cool. If we took the lesson that cheese is the secret to feeling great, we’d be creating and following a rule. We would get further away from ourselves in this way and start all acting and eating alike.
Funny as that sounds, we do this all the time, blindly following what we think we should be doing instead of believing that how we feel is important and worthy of our response. It’s not the cheese. It’s this belief, and this process, that counts. The lesson is to slow down, soften, feel, believe what you feel, and respond. Staying connected to you is a useful rule to live by. Connection to who and how you are right now is the secret to creating the who and how you want to be, wherever you want to go.
A few practice guidelines
First, follow your instincts! You’re the world’s leading expert on you. If something feels good, and you’re moving gently and easily, then it’s probably good. If something doesn’t feel good—it creates strain or discomfort—don’t do it. This is true for everyone, but it’s especially important while you’re pregnant.
As a general guideline, you want to move easily, letting any stress and tension gently release from your body. Don’t worry about getting into poses, correct ways of doing things, or pushing into anything at all. Just stay relaxed, breathe deep, and follow how you feel. It’s not the poses that matter; it’s you, so explore gently around and get to know all of you. When you find a place that feels good to linger in, linger and breathe there. When you want to move, move easy.
Here are a few more quick tips to follow during your pregnancy:
Don’t push into twists.
As your body relaxes during pregnancy, you’ll feel like you can twist in circles! So do much less than you can or might normally do here. You want to keep your middle pretty roomy and uncompressed.
Don’t roll around on or challenge your belly.
You probably won’t want to anyway, but pushing into up-dogs or wheels or rolling around in bow poses isn’t a great idea now. Just keep moving where it’s completely comfortable to move. Roll onto your side and open up here if it feels good.
There’s always a way to move that isn’t stressful and feels great. You get to find it by making your yoga your own. So there’s no correct and no worry about getting into what anybody else looks like. Move slow enough and breathe deep enough that you feel you, and follow exactly that.
Let the stress go.
Pushing into ideas of “correct” yoga poses has a way of pulling stress into people’s bodies and minds. So let go of any ideas about correct, and just find your own way easily in your own body. This will let stress out of your body and mind. You’ll feel happy!