I have been rereading two books. One is regarding birthing with mindfulness, and the other is the most fantastic yoga handbook ever. Let’s talk about the first book first, though. The birthing book is called “Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond.” Noooo, I am not having another baby, but I am rereading this book so that I can be of better service to a pregnant yoga student of mine. (Let’s call this student Nancy, like Nancy Bardacke, the author of the book we are talking about.) Nancy is seven months pregnant with her first child and is new to yoga. I, on the other hand, gave birth to my only child (Isabella) one year and 4.5 months ago and I have been a yoga teacher since 2005. Here is Isa being awesome today.
So, to help "Nancy" prepare for the birth of her baby girl, I decided to build classes around the Mindful Birthing book so that she could start practicing Mindfulness now (in Yoga and Meditation), and so that she will be better able to use the practices during her birth and beyond. So far, the experience has been great! Not only do I feel like she is benefiting right now, but I suspect she will continue to benefit from the lessons even after she gives birth. In fact, I now recall how the mindfulness practices taught in this book also helped me after I gave birth to Isabella. Birthing is kind of a big deal. It's a transformational sort of thing. Hard to explain, but take my word for it - any tool you have handy in your proverbial tool bag during and after you give birth is priceless. The lessons found in this book should be one of those tools - for everyone.
However, while rereading the book, it suddenly felt like it had been a very long time since I was indeed “mindful.” That happens. ***Shaking it off *** Here’s how I rediscovered my lack of mindfulness whilst in my self-contained, social distancing experiment I call:
"Hermiting with Yoga and My Loves in Order to Avoid Catching the Plague Known as the Coronavirus -- A Journey & Experiment"
A week ago, after having led "Nancy" through a mindful yoga flow (pregnancy) practice, I went back to my mat and flowed for myself. Having only recently reread the first part of the book concerning The Foundational Attitudes of a Mindfulness Practice, I intentionally started practicing them. Beginner’s Mind. Non-judging. Patience. Non-striving. Trust (as Self-Reliance). Acknowledgment (Moving Toward Acceptance). Letting Be. Kindness. It felt like fresh, coronavirus-free air on my face after having spent much too long in a musty basement. The principles and foundations, to this day, have proven beneficial to me regardless of my being pregnant or not. I thought to myself; perhaps this could also be beneficial to others? I thought that perhaps I would start teaching some of the foundational principles of "Mindful Birthing" with all of my private and small group yoga students.
But then BAM. Coronavirus got even more serious and now I'm having to host our private yoga classes online via Facetime. As a result though, I had all this extra time, so I kept on reading.
My Yoga Handbook
“A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya.” That’s a mouth full. But it’s incredible.
“It is a complete work on yoga – a complete course in the practices of integral yoga. It presents a synthesis of the various paths of yoga in a scientific and systematic manner to ensure the harmonious development and unfoldment of every aspect of the individual… [They] have tried to present the book in such a way as to lead one gradually and progressively through the practices as if learning directly from a devoted teacher. If your approach is sincere and you follow your program regularly, the benefits will unfold themselves into all the different aspects of your life” (1).
So, here is what I am thinking. I’d like to not only share with my current students what I am reading about but you guys as well. The book says:
“There are three main parts, divided into thirty-six lessons, containing various topics on both the theoretical and practical aspects of yoga, and eventually a full exposition of the ancient system of yoga. The first book of practices for beginners is intended to systematically prepare the mind and body for the more advanced practices in Book II and eventually to the higher practices of kriya yoga in Book III. The ultimate aim is to progressively lead you step by step through the different techniques so that by the end of this sadhana course, you will have an integrated approach and a full theoretical understanding of kriya yoga, as well as many other facets of yoga” (1).
Okay, so let’s do this. I don’t have much time to write (witnessing Isabella’s life comes first in my world), but as I go along, as I have a moment here or there, I’ll share something here (blog, video, quote) about this re-journey into “Mindful Birthing” and my deep dive into all things Ancient Yoga. And whether you have a child or not, whether you are pregnant or not doesn’t matter. I suspect that there is something in my perusing of these books that will prove beneficial to you. I suspect that mindfulness cultivated through meditation or yoga will help you to develop skills to navigate the uncharted waters that lie ahead with more joy, kindness, awareness, calm, and wisdom than you might have otherwise.
So…. Little by little, let’s build that yoga program together. Hold each other accountable. Learn a little here and a little there.
I wish you joy in your reflections and your journey.
These are the daily practice programs for Lesson One in the Ancient Kriya book. I suspect I'll make a video for you regarding the Yoga practices. Like, explanations of how to do the poses listed and their benefits. I'll basically lead a class. As you can see, there are three programs. You choose the program you'd like to do based on the amount of time you have to spare. The first program takes 53 minutes to complete. The last program takes 15 minutes. This should be fun ;)
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be defined as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
More on this next time, too.
 Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming to Our Senses (New York: Hyperion, 2005), 108.
For Further Reading Preparation...
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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