Yoga and Childbirth …
Below Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani talks about her yoga and childbirth experience … and excerpt from her article “The Yoga of Motherhood.”
… One day in the middle of April 1972, I was wakened about 3 a.m. with strange rippling sensations in my lower back. They were pleasant; my mind was drawn naturally to dwell on them, to contemplate their movement in my body. They were similar to the swells of the ocean, the mighty rhythm of waves beating upon the shore. I lay awake till dawn, absorbed in the sensations, which were like none I had ever felt.
I attended the hatha yoga class at 6 a.m. and participated in whatever postures were possible for me in that state. After breakfast, I sat at my typewriter to take dictation from my husband. We were working on several books, our monthly magazine as well and had to do several pieces of mail before lunch.
The ‘rolling sensations’ in my lower back became more and more pronounced, but they were not painful and I wondered if this could possibly be the labor pains about which all women speak. There was nothing painful about them, but they were becoming more and more intense.
I started to squirm somewhat uneasily in my chair, but continued with the typing. Finally, when I felt they were becoming too powerful to sit still, I told my husband. “I think the labor pains have started, though they don’t hurt.” They were coming very closely by then, about one minute apart. “I think we had better go to the nursing home”, I said. My husband sent for a taxi and by 10 a.m. we were on our way to the nursing home, about five kilometers away.
This clinic was run by Catholic nuns in Pondicherry, and they took one look at me, and directed me to the delivery room. By 11 a.m. the sensations had become very intense, by that time breaking through the pain threshold and I became conscious of very powerful, now painful muscular thrusts of the body. I was working very hard even involuntarily, and could now appreciate the significance of the term ‘labor’ pains. The body was hard at work to sever a connection which it had maintained so intimately between two bodies for the last nine months and the partition would not be easy.
The nuns did not give me any medication nor did I ask for it. I wanted to be conscious and aware. I walked around the delivery room. I did the kukuriya pranayama (the dog-panting breath), much to the astonishment of the attendants, who had to be reassured that it was a yoga practice and I had not indeed gone mad.
I performed some shallow nasarga bhastrika and nasarga mukha bhastrikas. I even got down on my hands and knees and crawled about the delivery room. These were rather strange antics for the staff and I suppose I should have prepared them better for the sight. I simply gasped, “yoga practice” between breaths, through my clenched teeth, and they relaxed their anxious glances in my direction …
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: