Linda Sparrowe Shares her Secrets on How Yoga Can Make Pregnancy Easier
Pregnancy & Babies

Linda Sparrowe Shares her Secrets on How Yoga Can Make Pregnancy Easier

Linda Sparrowe is a yoga writer, teacher, and mentor in holistic healing. She is the former editor-in-chief of Yoga International magazine and past managing editor of Yoga Journal. She has written eight books on yoga, including YOGA MAMA, which provides mothers practical and safe advice on using or creating a yoga practice to make their pregnancy easier.

Newborn mothers, interested in an easier pregnancy? Less back pain? How about yoga poses to help assist your child out of the womb? Check out this amazing interview as Linda shares her secrets.

Interview with Linda Sparrowe

Linda Sparrowe writer, teacher, mentor in holistic healing author of 8 books on yoga

by Clarke Illmatical

Listen to the Audio Version of this Interview

Yoga Mama: The Practitioner’s Guide to Prenatal Yoga, what was the impetus for this book?

“The publisher came to me, the very first yoga book I ever wrote was A WOMAN’S BOOK OF YOGA AND HEALTH. Back in 2002, there was a chapter in it, on prenatal and postnatal yoga and the publisher that published that book, their vice-president really loved it when she was pregnant the first time.

She said ‘This is a great book but I feel, that it’s too restorative.’ She wanted a prenatal book that was more active… Pregnancy is not an illness, it’s something that our bodies know how to do and so how can we keep doing what we’re doing when we’re pregnant. She said, ‘I think you should write a book about that.

‘My first response was just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should… The very same time my daughter became pregnant and I thought ‘That’s great!’ So, I said ‘I would write the book, not only about yoga poses, what we should do, what we shouldn’t do… It has to be more than just what we do with our bodies. How do we prepare for this event? How do we prepare for giving birth in a way that is healthy for us and healthy for the baby…”

Mothers these days, many are looking at holistic practices to improve their pregnancy. What part does yoga play in that from an emotional perspective?

“I think particularly in the West, doulas and midwives are critical, particularly for women who give birth in hospital settings, because what happens is, we want women to be as internally focused when we give birth… It’s been shown that once a woman gets to the hospital, with all of the bright lights and all types of people wanting to examine her and ask her questions, her body will stop… and it’s so interesting because it’s an ancient part of her.

You look at animals in the wild, if a deer is giving birth and a lion comes along, do you think she’s gonna say ‘Can you wait a minute? I’m having a moment here!’ Everything’s gonna stop and she’s gonna be able to fight or run. Her flight-or-fight will kick in and she’ll make that happen. Same thing happens in our bodies…

What yoga does, in partnership with that is gives us the tools, our breath work, our understanding of our own bodies, if we have a steady practice, we know how to dive into the body, we can stay deep, if we learn to trust our bodies, this can help us to be able to trust the body enough, so that we can give birth. That’s one way that yoga really helps us.

The second way is, through the practices, if for example, my labor is stalled and it’s not going anywhere, there are specific yoga poses I can do that will encourage the baby down and out.

Sometimes one of the biggest problems for women who are physically fit, even yoga teachers who do a lot of physical yoga, what happens to them is that they’re so used to lifting the core, engaging the core and lifting up, but they don’t know really how to release the pelvic core muscles. The pelvic core gets very tight, it gets very narrow, so when the baby attempts to come out, she can’t quite engage enough because the pelvic floor is tighter.

So what prenatal yoga helps us do is learn how to soften and spread that pelvic outlet through certain poses that we do.

If I’m in labor for example and the baby can’t quite engage, there are 3 or 4 yoga poses that I can do, that will push the baby just enough, to get right in there…”

There are so many different types of yoga, let’s say a mother is expecting what yoga practice should she be considering?

“There are a couple of things online that she can do if she can’t find a prenatal class. You don’t have to go to a prenatal class, you can go to any yoga class, but if you’ve never done yoga before, and you’re pregnant, my advice is to not do anything for the first three months, don’t do anything that you have to strain in order to do.

It’s not a time to get better, to get stronger, to get more flexible, none of that. It’s to get the body prepared to give birth for sure and so you maybe want to take a gentle class to see if you can open your hips a little bit more if you can get some strength in your legs. Giving birth is like running a marathon, sometimes it takes longer. You want to be strong for sure. But you also want to be, you want to make sure you’re doing things appropriately because now you’re doing yoga, not just for yourself, but for the benefit of the baby.

In your mind, your yoga becomes, how can I make my baby’s experience wonderful. For example, ‘I want to give my baby space and freedom in that womb. I’m not gonna do poses that constrict it.

For example, I’m not gonna do a twist against my belly, if I’m gonna do a twist, I’m going to keep my belly open. All of my yoga becomes not just my comfort in mind, but with my baby’s…”

I’ve heard that yoga has helped mothers with back pain…

“Yes indeed. There are some poses in the book that help with morning sickness, which is awesome because the first three months are not all that pleasant. Women don’t want to go to a full out yoga class because they feel awful. So there are maybe 4 or 5 yoga poses in a section on morning sickness that they can do at home.

In fact, they can do any of the sequences in the book. I recommend if you’ve never done yoga before, either find an online prenatal yoga class, if there is such a thing as prenatal yoga in their area, they should do that. So they get a really good idea of what yoga feels like in the body, because sometimes when we go to regular class, and it’s not that you can’t, if you’re already an athlete or you already have a sense of your body then a yoga class is fine, but what I want to guard against is a sense of competition.

If you go into a yoga class, you see all those people rocking it, you say ‘I can do that!’ Suddenly you have a little bit of disconnect between your mind and your body. And what Mr. Iyengar says, the old grandfather of yoga, he says “That you get into trouble when you allow the intelligence of the mind to override the intelligence of the body.”

I notice your book was broken down into the trimesters, can you tell us what we’ll find in the sections of the book?

“Each trimester has a full practice associated with it.

The first trimester has a practice and it also has mini-practices for morning sickness.

The second semester it has one for insomnia and for hip pain, because a lot of women get sciatica when they’re pregnant, as the baby starts to press down and sometimes that can give you low back pain – what they call pelvic floor pain.

And then, there’s a section on birthing and I don’t call it labor and delivery I call it labor and birthing because delivery sounds like you’re delivering a UPS package. You’re giving birth. There’s a number of sequences for that, both for yourself and for you and your partner to really encourage labor to start…

At the end, I didn’t want to leave women hanging, so we did a postnatal section and we talked about how to find yoga when you’re exhausted when your baby’s not sleeping and how do you find it in your life.

Most important is how you get your body back in a way that will support you later on in life. A lot of women we decide we want to get back into shape too soon, you start trying to engage the abdominals and flatten our stomach and that can cause a lot of problems if you don’t do it in a mindful way. There’s a whole approach to how you kind of knit things back together.

And then throughout there’re all kinds of suggestions on how to have a relationship with your body as its changing. For a lot of women, they get weirded out as their body starts to change shape, also a lot of suggestions on how to communicate with your baby in utero.

My whole thing is, you’re not a mom to be, you’re already a mom as that baby’s growing inside of you, you’re feeding it you’re nurturing her, you’re talking to her there’s a connection. How do you do that? How does yoga help you do that?

I think it’s definitely a body based sequences, there are breathing practices and there’s a whole mind-body part connection, pretty much throughout the book.”

Sounds like mothers who are having their first child should be encouraged to pick up the book as well…

“It is truly for new mommas, I think that it’s both informative but also encouraging, and it dispels a lot of myths and a lot of fears.

If you’re feeling anxious, if you’re really struggling with knowing what to do or just being afraid, here are some of the things you can do.

And that’s a sweet reason, that if there are prenatal classes where the women are, it’s lovely to take those because there are other women who are either just slightly more pregnant than you or just coming into their pregnancy and so there is so much sharing…”

Mothers, even if they’ve had children before, it sounds like they will benefit from this book.

“There are some tidbits and suggestion for women who are on their second or third baby because the body is a little bit different after you’ve had one.

Also for women who are on their second or third baby most of the time, they’re not as fearful of the unknown and they go ‘Okay, now I can, I know better how to support myself.’

The book again has sequences and it has some really lovely ways and suggestions for kinds of different moms on how to make it happen. I also have other yoga teachers give me sequences…”

For more information on Linda Sparrowe and purchase her books visit:

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