5 years into motherhood, 5 habits from my pregnancy that I've been using ever since..
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
You would think that what you learn in a birth preparation course is to serve you when you are giving birth. That the practices which you learn during your prenatal yoga class is to bring your baby into the most optimal position for birth or create more space for your baby. And that once your baby is out, well, that you don’t need it anymore..
So here are five examples of practices that managed not only to stay with me over the last 5 to 6 years, but more! I use most of them every single day!
If you recognize yourself experiencing what I experience still today, maybe you will find those practices helpful as well. I added some videos and simple step by step tutorials to describe it as best as I can, but feel free to reach out if anything is unclear.
Calm breathing to fall back asleep at night
Calm breathing is one of the breathing we share in HypnoBirthing to use during labor. It’s focused on long exhalation which is also a natural pain killer, so very much relevant when giving birth. What is does additionally, it’s using the elements of hypnosis, being giving us instruction. Inhale 4, exhale 8, and repeat. That’s instruction. You do that, and stop doing anything else.
I started using calm breathing a lot, and I mean A LOT, when Miko was already with us and he didn’t sleep. So I didn’t sleep neither. You would think that being all tired and sleep deprived makes you fall asleep in 2 seconds once your baby sleeps again, but no. I found myself so many times looking into a ceiling counting minutes, hours, knowing that I only have max 2 hours before he wakes up again, and I have to be all sharp again.. and then I thought to use calm breathing to help myself fall asleep again. It worked magic! To the extent that I’m using it still every other night I wake up because Lily kicks me, or Miko cries out, and then I have to find my way to go sleep again..
Here is a short video I recorded when pregnant with Miko to share calm breathing with other pregnant mamas. Still very much up to date. Use it if you need it as well!
Progressive relaxation for a quick result
If you joined a yoga class at least once, you most likely experienced progressive relaxation during savasana (final relaxation). It’s the part when a teacher is saying things like ‘relax your forehead, relax your jaw, relax your shoulders, your chest, your belly etc. etc.’. So you do the whole scan of your body from top to bottom. Progressive relaxation brings it to a next level. You can do it by yourself, and then you assign numbers to each parts of the body. And once you use it a few times, you just need to say 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and you are there..
I mastered it recently in my own savasana, because, well, it’s bound to be short. I either have to rush in the morning after my practice to prep kids for school/daycare, or they jump on me the moment they see me on the floor if we are all home. I still would love to give my body a moment of rest, so I adapted the progressive relaxation which is actually helping you to bring relaxation during labor, to a rapid relaxation to help me get a moment of rest before jumping off my mat, and be a mama Kasia again.
So here is my version on the progressive relaxation:
Lie down flat on the mat. If you can put a sleeping pillow or a little towel on your eyes.
Inhale deep and visualize the breath going all the way from your toes to the top of your head.
And then while you exhale long, count:
5: your head and shoulders
4: your chest and arms
3: your belly, hips and pelvis
2: your thigs and knees
1: your lower legs, and feet
Repeat it a at least three times. If you have time for more, do it. But those three rounds are already a blessing for me.
Nadi shodhana to find my ‘nothing box’
When I met Robin he once said something like, ‘shhhh, I’m in my nothing box’. I ignored him, as I did many times during our relationship, but then it came back to me one day again. I was teaching a yoga class using nadi shodhana before savasana, and afterwards we stayed for a long bit of silence there.. I remember that feeling of not having to think, to do things, to plan, to want, to act.. just pure nothing.. pure bliss.. the nothing box..
Since then I’ve been sharing nadi shodhana in every single class I teach, knowing that this practice takes away some time from movement, which is often the key reason why people join a yoga class. But also knowing that it will become a reason for them to come back. Cause there is no way that I’m the only person feeling it! And I’m not!
We share nadi shodhana during prenatal yoga, to help our moms with having a way to deal with anxiety, poor sleep or headaches. But nobody talks about ‘the nothing box’!
That moment when you can be with yourself, by yourself, and you are just there. That moment which is so rare once you become a parent! If I was paid 1 cent for every single time someone shouts to me ‘mama’ I wouldn’t have to work till the end of this world. And it’s just been 5 years of being a mama!
I’m sharing with you nadi shodhana in my prenatal classes to help you with your today, hoping though, that just like me, you will realize one day, that it can serve you again and again as well. And it will serve you well!
Here is a short movie with instructions again.
And here is a shorter movie just for practice.
Ujjayi breathing not to jump out of myself
When we share it in HypnoBirthing it gets a completely different meaning and purpose than when we share it during ashtanga or vinyasa class. After all it’s very closely linked to giving birth..
The main goal of using this breath is often to give ourselves a bit more strength to move through whatever comes our way. The side effect is that we calm ourselves down. The other side effect is that we may calm our babies down as well, since the sound of the breath is similar to the one of white noise.
It was when Lily was tiny tiny, during the long nights when I got out of ideas how to make her sleep, so I thought: white noise, ujjayi breathing, why not? It didn’t always work on her, but it did always work on me, and that was half of the success already!
Babies have some sort of ‘antennas’. They feel when we are stressed, so if we try to calm them down, while being all over the place ourselves, it will jus not work. During those long nights I managed to calm myself down with ujjayi breath, and that was enough. I don’t even remember, how it worked on her. I was ok, so eventually she was ok as well.
Right now I don’t have to shush my kids to sleep during the night, I can just tell them to sleep. Better, Miko is telling Lily to stop talking and sleep these days! A two year old to a five year old, precious! But I found myself using it every time they step on my nerves, not to jump at them. You know that rule of ‘count to 10 before you say something when someone makes you angry’. Well, I adapted it for ‘breathe ujjayi until your head cools down’. Not sure if it works on me, or they just get scared that mama sounds like 'Darth Vader', but it works. And I take it ;-)
Check an article here, and scroll down to #3 for instructions if you like to give it a shot.
My happy place
In HypnoBirthing many of the scripts help us bring back good memories of our safe places, or help us create the new ones. A place where you can be yourself, where you can be alone, yet never feel lonely. A place where there is no need to do things, to act, to plan, to react.. It is a powerful tool to use during birth. You close your eyes, and find yourself in your safe happy place, so you can relax, and let your body do what it has been designed to do.
Well, guess what. The need for the safe happy place doesn’t leave us with giving birth. How many times have you found yourself being overwhelmed? Asking yourself am I doing it right? Is it what serves them? What would best serve me? Did they eat well today? Did I dress them well? What if they get sick? Am I a good parent? What if they are damaged for life because of the way I have been raising them? The list continues..
The truth is that we all have our ways, we are doing our best, and frankly if I look at my parents, who are awesome, no doubt, but if they managed at the age of 25 when they had me. I should manage as well while almost being 40 with the experience and knowledge I have, right? Still, the questions come up messing up with my head, more than I would wish..
So I started using the happy place visualization again and again. And then I realized also something. That place changes with us. For the last couple of years my safe place was in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, where we went once with Robin. A night full of stars with the two of us sitting on a jetty, wondering what we would see the day after while diving.. so easy, so beautiful, nothing to worry, just pure curiosity and excitement.. Recently I closed my eyes again to go back to my happy place and I found myself with Miko in Vondelpark here in Amsterdam checking on storks.. easy, beautiful, nothing to worry, pure curiosity and excitement about what the day would bring..