Pregnancy Advice …
Below Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani talks about the pregnancy advice she got, and shares her advice for new mothers too … in an excerpt from her article, “The Yoga of Motherhood.”
… My time drew near. I had no senior woman friend for pregnancy advice close to me in whom I could confide, and for those things that only women know I could turn only to my old Ayah, a village lady of considerable personality.
I had some misgivings about emerging from my experience with a misshapen body, and was gratified to meet later in my pregnancy a young woman who not only looked trim and slim, but had returned to her practice of Bharat Natyam (Indian classical dance) only four months after delivery. Meeting women like this, who had come through this experience intact, joyous and loving, had a profound effect upon my state of mind.
I received pregnancy advice from all quarters, however, and was always happy to listen to the experience and thoughts of others. One old Russian lady in particular pleased me with her folk wisdom and humour.
”You should treat your son,” (she naturally assumed my first born would be a son,) ”as a god for the first six years of his life; like a king for the next six years; like a slave for the next six years, and as a friend ever after.”
This attitude towards the ‘ego development’ of a child at various stages I have found quite accurate and have seen its wisdom in the passing years. This same woman also gave me a formula for producing a genius. “If you want your child to be brilliant”, she said, “you must breast feed him for three years and during that time have no sexual contact at all. This power from your own body will pass through your milk to the child”.
As things turned out, I later fulfilled these conditions and our little Ananda today does have a rare brilliance of mind. I used to ponder these concepts carefully, because they also had their harmonic thought in Yoga philosophy.
No Shortage of Pregnancy Advice
Various students and friends passing through our Ashram used to share their experiences with me, and I slowly built up confidence that I too could go through what women since Eve have endured as their part in perpetuating the race.
It was a sacrifice, giving up my own body to another being for nine months, and I understood full well why the Hindus had so much respect for motherhood. Is there any other human experience in the world in which one can so willingly and joyously put every single need and desire of another living being before one’s own welfare? This constant subjugation of one’s own ego to the needs of another is itself a spiritual discipline unparalleled.
I slowly felt the presence of another life growing close to my own and empathized with the Biblical description of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who “kept these things in her heart and pondered them deeply”. One does feel an immense closeness to the Universe at this time, a feeling of the utter mystery of creating, the perfection of the unfoldment, which has nothing to do with one’s mind. I could never consciously “create a baby”; even the most brilliant scientist with all his test tubes could not create life.
Yet, here I was, on automatic pilot, so to speak, bearing witness to the slow unfolding of another human life within the protective cocoon of my own. I could not help but meet each new stage, each new development with awe and thanksgiving for this rare opportunity …
About the Author:
Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani is the resident Acharya of Ananda Ashram in Pondicherry, India. She is also the Director of the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research (ICYER), the Director of Yoganjali Natyalayam, and Editor of Yoga Life, a publication of Ananda Ashram. For more information, visit: