As a prenatal yoga & Pilates instructor, I often meet women who begin their yoga practice during their pregnancies. For this I am grateful. However, the process of nurturing & taking care of ourselves through the practice of yoga & Ayurveda can also happen (& should) before we become pregnant. The time before conception lays the groundwork for health & vitality during pregnancy. Here we will take a look into the role of Ayurveda, yoga & living a balanced life in the 3-6 months pre-pregnancy. This is a mind-body Ayurvedic approach to looking at fertility & conception.
A friend of mine had referred to this time of pre-conception as building a home for the baby. Before you welcome a new house guest you clean, tidy up & prepare. This mind-body preparation sets the foundation for the next 9 months & beyond. If you have the luxury of planning ahead for baby, this is a loving way to prepare. For me, I thought of my mind & body as soil I needed to get ready to plant in. I consciously made efforts to clear out the weeds of my mental & emotional health as well as the physical body,
The idea in preparation is for you & your partner (if you have one) to prepare together. Even though it is just you that will go through the physical changes, each parent benefits from preparing mentally, emotionally & spiritually for baby. Again, think of preparing a home for your child or planting a seed for a strong tree to grow. You want to set the best foundation possible for this new being. Take the time to meditate or journal about this experience, your goals & fears. Discuss these together.
Create space in your mind & body for baby. Again, using the metaphors of building a home or preparing the soil – you want to clear out any clutter or weeds first. Whatever type of yoga you practice, now is a time to commit to your practice with intent. For me personally, I focused on the rigor & routine of Ashtanga & the reflection of gentle yoga during this time. My husband began practicing more with me at this time. It is believed that some of the poses of Ashtanga yoga workout the reproductive glands & boost fertility (look for more on this in a future post).
Ideally, 6 months pre-conceiving both partners should eliminate toxins from their systems (just as you would while carrying the baby). Most OBGYNs recommend starting to take prenatal vitamins at this time. Eliminate processed foods, limit caffeine & alcohol. Meditate on creating a safe & nurturing place for the baby to live, nurturing the seed of life. Focus on eating balanced meals, being mindful not to over or under eat. This is not a time for dieting or overindulging. Again, focus on balance. Ayurveda recommends spacing out meals at least 3 hours. This allows time for your digestive fire to heat up & better digest nutrients. Sip on warm tea (ginger tea & lemon water are my favorites). It is believed that eating foods such as whole grains, nuts, vegetables (such as asparagus &butternut squash) & drinking rose water & aloe juice can assist in fertility.
These are some basic outlines to creating a healthy space in your mind, body & soul to welcome a baby into your world. Each of us is unique & faces different needs leading up to & during pregnancy. It is important to keep this in mind. Some women get pregnant right away while others must wait (for a variety of reasons). This amazing process of growing life inside of us is bigger than each of us. Fertility & conception is an expression of the world, Gaia, we are just a part.