Thoughts Literally Rewire the Brain
We effectively create and re-create our brain all day, every day. Each time we think a thought with effort and intention we are closer to having this image become an habitual one for the brain and the nervous system. The more frequently an image is created in the mind the more easily it recalled each time, because more neurons become wired up to create this image in the mind. This means more neurons become dedicated to enhancing this image, and triggering the hormonal and behavoral responses that follow. Eventually it takes less and less effort to create the image. It becomes part of our subconscious wiring, pairing this image with our beliefs and expectations of birth. What fires together, wires together.
The type of thoughts and words we see and hear triggers activity in different parts of the brain. Anxious thoughts and words activate the part of the brain that signals danger, and triggers relase of stress hormones. Positive thoughts activate brain areas that calm, and as a result, triggers different hormones that promote wellness.
We know that the nervous system has a negativity bias. This makes sense. Noticing things in our environment that could be a threat is a survival skill and helps us survive. In the distant past this was helpful to be alert for wild animals to avoid becoming prey. In the modern day it can be less helpful, leaving us to focus on, and repeat, negative images planted by society and well meaning friends. Studies show that it takes four positive thoughts to trigger the same amount of electrical activity in the brain as a negative image. Knowing this helps us understand the value of affirmations. Repeating them many times helps us counter negative birth images and rewire our brains for positive birthing. These same studies show that speaking these images further enhances their impact.
Ideas for Using Affirmations During Pregnancy & Childbirth:
- Repeat each affirmation aloud until you have memorized it. Then repeat silently as you move throughout your week.
- Pair with an activity you do daily. For example everytime you make a tea, take a walk, hear your phone ring, stop at a red light, before bedtime. Simply repeat this affirmation as you breathe with ease.
- Post the image or sentence you need to affirm in a visible place, like your refrigerator.
- Use a mala (yoga beads, or rosary) to sit and say the affirmation as you hold each bead in turn.
- Record your favourite affirmations and replay them as you relax, and/or during your birthing time.
- Create your own. What are you worried about? What is the opposite of this worry? The thing you want to happen? Make this into a short sentence that you can repeat and visualize. Make sure it is a positive sentence. For example, instead of “I am not afraid of birth sensation” use “I welcome the sensation of birth to help me release my baby”. Repeat the belief you want rather than the one you are trying to replace.
How to Maximize Program Benefits
The topics are organized in a specific order to build on, and reinforce each other. We suggest spacing the topics by one week to allow time for the somatic body, and deep subconscious to integrate the impact of the activities and content. The nervous system distrusts fast change, and you are literally rewiring your brain and nervous system as you move through this program. We recommend that you commit to a specific day of the week and stick with that as much as possible. This provides days in between to contemplate the content, the birth stories, and to do the affirmation and other suggested activities. * This is not to say that doing the classes closer together do not bring benefit. It will. Determine what works for your schedule and incorporate as much integration time between topics as you are able to fit in.
Each class video is broken down into a birth preparation topic, followed by a series of yoga movements and breath practices, and ends with a short guided relaxation session to reinforce the topic (aka. yoga nidra or hypnosis-based birth preparation).
After participating in each video go through the topic-enhancing educational notes, affirmations, birth stories, and activities. These will underscore and expand upon the process that each individual class sets into motion. As you move through the program you will slowly retrain the somatic body, and the subconscious mind, to respond in a whole new way to birth images and thoughts.
This calming and strengthening prenatal class series is designed to optimize expectant mothers’ physical and mental health while promoting the bond between mother and child. Breathing exercises are emphasized throughout the class to calm the mind, and prepare the body for delivery. Poses are modified to accommodate Mom’s blossoming figure at each stage of pregnancy. Each movement is carefully chosen to stretch and strengthen muscles needed to support the body during pregnancy and childbirth. Yoga maneuvers to encourage baby into ideal birth position are part of every class. Postures to tone and create range of motion in the muscles that support the pelvis, including the pelvic floor, are highlighted for prenatal comfort, birthing efficiency, and postnatal recovery.
As the birth stories provided from previous program participants will demonstrate, this is a an extremely effective and proven program for enhancing the quality of pregnancy and birthing experiences. Each section is carefully curated for optimal physical, mental, and emotional preparation for birth and motherhood. Enjoy!
Welcome to the Shakti Prenatal Yoga Method
The Shakti Yoga Method birth preparation and pregnancy wellness program stands out from other prenatal yoga classes in its careful combination of traditional yoga practices, and modern day evidence-based birth education, movement theory, and emotional preparation techniques. This proven combination meets the specific needs of the modern pregnant woman.
We are currently living in a society that sits far more than we have evolved to do. This means that during pregnancy women need movement that not only promotes general health and wellness, but also includes specific movement to fix the impact that our sedentary lifestyle has on the pelvic floor, lumbar spine, and baby positioning.
Possibly even more than physical preparation for birth, women also now need techniques to combat common negative birthing images they are exposed to in our culture. Many pregnant parents begin their pregnancies afraid of birth, and lacking confidence in their abilities and their bodies. They are surrounded by a sea of fearful images in the media, and from friends and family. Many arrive in their first prenatal yoga class with no idea how much impact their innate wisdom and skills can have on the quality of their pregnancy and birthing experiences. Most parents have never heard a single calm, beautiful, empowering birth story, let alone a story where a mother would describe her birth as enjoyable.
Adding to the unhelpful mainstream presentation of birth is the phenomena of removing women from the center of the birthing process. Words and phrases that rob women of agency are commonplace. When we say things like, “The doctor delivered the baby” we make the health care professional the most important and active participant in the experience. This program sees birth supports as guides to help women to tap into their innate birthing body, and skills. The quality of a birth experience is the result of the birthing parent’s efforts and mind set. When a mother learns how to use movement, breath, sound and sensation she is able to approach birth with joy and confidence. She learns to trust her body, and to trust birth.
The Shakti Yoga Method utilizes physical movements, breathing techniques, birth education, yoga nidra (hypnosis based birth imagery), and ACTUAL birth stories from graduates of the Shakti method to help women reframe birth in a holostic way. This prepares Mom physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the sacred experience of growing her perfect baby, and releasing them into the world with an empowered presence.
The powerful combination of the five techniques listed above make the Shakti Prenatal Yoga Method so much more than a prenatal yoga class, or even a prenatal birth education class. Any one approach is beneficial on its own, but together they become more than the sum of their parts. The end result is a collaboration that makes the Shakti Prenatal Method a complete mind, body, and spirit vehicle for the most comfortable, most empowered, and most enjoyable pregnancy, birth and early motherhood possible for every parent.
We will consider the impact of affimations more and more deeply as we move further into this program. For now consider these short sentences as positive images to help you fertilize the seeds planted in this week’s class. You can repeat them silently or out loud as you go about your days, stopping at red lights, sipping tea, etc. If you have a meditation practice they can become a mantra that you use during your sessions. Silently repeating an affirmation is a good way to harness the mind as you and baby begin to fall asleep each night. Choose the image that resonates most with you and baby.
Module One Affimation Suggestions:
I am designed to grow, birth, and nourish my baby.
I trust my strong beautiful healthy body.
My baby is growing perfectly.
All birth stories presented in the Shakti Prenatal Yoga Method have been shared by Mommas who have completed this program and used their fine tuned yoga skills to have their best possible births. They share with the hope that their story will give you the confidence to trust your body, and remember that you are designed for this. These stories are a testimony of the effectiveness of the breathing, focus, and preparation techniques you are fine tuning weekly in our classes.
Birth Story 1: Proud Birthing Momma
Hi Bobby! Just wanted to let you know that our little girl, Rosie arrived safe and healthy just over 3 weeks ago! I wanted to say thanks, because I know the positive stories from other mamas, and the breathing got me through and allowed me to have the experience I wanted!
I had a sweep done on a Thursday morning, and some cramps/contractions started overnight on Friday night. I spent Saturday just relaxing- took a bath, went for a walk, and had a visit with family, but by supper time they were getting closer together and more intense. I used my breathing to get through each one. I was able to labour at home in a warm bath until my water broke around 9:45pm Saturday night. When I arrived at the hospital, I was 7cm dilated and things were moving quickly. I made the decision that I would continue without an epidural. That had been my “ideal plan” but I was open to making the decision based on how I felt at the time and how everything was going.
When I reached 10cm, things went so smoothly. I only pushed through two contractions and she arrived. Apparently, I have a very hard push I have now been told haha. I actually had to hold off from pushing during two contractions to give the doctor time to get there and let them set up. She arrived at 12:53am, less than 3 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I felt so proud of myself for getting through the whole process in the way I had hoped, medication free, and I know that the positive stories from other moms, my own positive thinking and relaxation techniques were the biggest contributing factors to that. Thanks for everything, I really valued all the information you had, especially given I didn’t have the same access to prenatal classes, etc., given COVID-19.
S Parsons, St. John’s, Canada
Birth Story 2: Using Breath & Labour Techniques for a Rewarding Birth
I’ve been meaning to write and just say thank you. One of my friends recommended you for the prenatal yoga as she had such a good labor and delivery, and am I ever glad I listened and joined your class. I was due November 18th and on November 19th around 7pm I started having pains I hadn’t experienced during my pregnancy.
I knew something was happening so I decided to get in the bath tub and practiced the different labour and breathing techniques. Contractions started happening and progressing pretty quickly. I arrived at the hospital around 12am. When I was checked at 12:20am I was 5cm dilated. I continued to breath through the contractions until I received the epidural.
When the doctor arrived a half hour later I was fully dilated and was ready to push. Ten minutes later, at 1:34am my little girl, Emery was born. As a first-time mom, I truly don’t think I could have had such a wonderful experience without your help. I always stayed positive throughout the pregnancy and never put much thought into the labor/delivery as you cannot plan exactly how it will happen. I let nature take its course and just continued to breath and listen to the nurse/doctor and it was the most beautiful and rewarding thing I have ever witnessed. Thank you, again!
K Sullivan, St. John’s, Canada