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Yoga Blog for Midwives

By Yaisa Nio, Yoga Teacher, founder and owner of Yoga Here & There

Yaisa is a beautiful soul (and yoga teacher) who I met through the Southern Australian based Love Local Fleurieu community.  This amazing community of women in business supported the ACM National Conference in 2017.  I wrote a blog piece about their engagement and generosity which you can read here.  Yaisa offered to share her knowledged, passion and skills in and around yoga with the midwifery community.  This is part 1.


How Yoga Can Help You and Your Clients ~ An Introduction

Welcome to this new blog! 

My name is Yaisa. I teach yoga in Adelaide and the Fleurieu Peninsula. Ruth King from ACM’s Education Unit asked me if I was interested in writing a regular blog about how yoga can be of use to midwives and their clients. That was of course an offer I couldn’t refuse, one of my missions in life being to spread the love for yoga wherever and whenever possible. 

So here I am and I am happy you are too. 

But before I move towards more specific topics, let me start by making sure we are all on the same page. What is yoga, really? 

Quite possibly, many of you have been on a yoga mat at some point in your life. And perhaps there are even yoga teachers among you. But for those who have only heard speaking of yoga, allow me to expand a little. 

What is yoga?

The practice of Yoga originated in India and the word itself translates from Sanskrit as “union”.  Although open to many interpretations, it is often referred to as the union between the “Individual” and the “Universe” or between the “Body, Mind and Soul”. To attain this union, in other words to become enlightened and achieve liberation, several paths have developed throughout the millennia.

Altar in a yoga shala in Bali. Different gods, different gurus, different practices.

Have you ever heard of Mother Theresa, the catholic nun who dedicated years of her life to the poor and sick in India? You could say that she was a true practitioner of Karma Yoga. She chose the path of selfless service. Enlightenment can be achieved by this kind of dedication.

Perhaps you are a yogi too - or a yogini, if you are a woman - without realising it.

Are you a volunteer? Do you do charity work? Well, if you do it as an act of pure selflessness without expecting anything in return, not even gratefulness from those you help, then you are indeed a yogi. 

Two other paths of yoga are Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga.

  • Jnana yoga practitioners are the intellectuals. They use their will and power of discrimination to cut through the veil of ignorance and attain the Truth. They study ancient texts and scriptures, practice mental techniques of self-questioning and deep reflection in order to find the Truth and through Truth, achieve liberation. 
  • Bhakti yogis are the emotional ones. They follow the path of love and devotion and chose a spiritual practice focused on loving devotion towards one or more gods. Are you familiar with all those offering rituals in Bali? That’s a form of bhakti yoga.

 
Offerings on the street in Bali.

Raja Yoga

The path that we are most familiar with in our modern era is Raja Yoga, or Royal Yoga, the path of self-control and self-mastery. The method to practice Raja Yoga is by following the Eight Limbs of Yoga and these are:

  1. Yama: five guidelines on how to interact with others
  2. Niyama: five observances to keep the body and mind clean
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama: breath control, extension of life-force
  5. Pratyahara: withdrawal from the senses, mastery over external influences
  6. Dharana: concentration on a single point of focus
  7. Dhyana: meditation, continuous concentration
  8. Samadhi: direct perception of the true Self

I might get to explain all of these limbs to you in subsequent blogs, but for now, did you notice the one in bold

Practice on the mat

That is the limb we nowadays generally refer to as yoga: the asana practice. That is the physical practice of yoga postures. Asana practice is meant to purify the body, to free it of dis-eases or anything that could make you feel uncomfortable when you try to sit still to meditate. Because hey, you need to meditate for hours on end in order to achieve self-control, right?

 
Meditation practice during a yoga teacher training in Bali.

The warriors, the tree poses, the lotus poses: these are asanas, physical yoga postures. Perhaps that is what you have been told yoga is. Sweating on the mat, trying to touch your toes. Indeed, that could be part of your yoga practice, although the practice would be in the “trying to touch” rather than in the “touch your toes” bit.  

But as you have gathered by now, yoga is much more than that. 

It is about physical wellbeing, absolutely, but also about mental strength, emotional balance and spiritual peace. About connection to the world around us and about knowing how to surrender without fatalism, about being disciplined without being dogmatic. I could go on and on, but you probably already think I’m getting carried away.

What is in this for you?

After this short (I swear, this was short!) introduction about what yoga is, let us get back to the original topic of this blog: how yoga can help you and your clients.

For starters, the practice of yoga - in its broadest term - creates an internal space in which you can act in life feeling detached and accepting. When we are on our way to enlightenment, we obviously try to free ourselves from mundane behaviours and emotions such at judgemental opinions, narrow-mindedness or possessiveness. 

Interestingly, I found these very three points on your website, about Midwifery Philosophy: 

Midwifery:

  • is holistic and recognises each woman’s social, emotional, physical, spiritual and cultural needs, expectations and context as defined by the woman herself.
  • recognises every woman’s right to self-determination in attaining choice, control and continuity of care from one or more known caregivers.
  • recognises every woman’s responsibility to make informed decisions for herself, her baby and her family with assistance, when requested, from health professionals.

As you deal with a wide array of clients with a variety of personalities, cultural backgrounds and personal beliefs, possibly very different from your own, I suppose that working according to these principles requires a healthy dose of detachment and acceptance, without losing sympathy or love for the people you care for. 

Also, inherent to your profession, you are often confronted with terrible dramas as well as moments of ultimate joy. You simply cannot take all those intense emotions home, lest you want to have a burn-out before your first anniversary on the job. You need to be able to let go, accept that sometimes things do not go the way you would like them to go and focus on your own physical, mental and emotional state. 

We all need balance in life and yoga provides that.

So, each month, I will find a topic to write about that will help you understand yoga a little bit better. And by understanding yoga, I hope you will find it is a useful tool to serve yourself and therefore your clients a little bit better too.

Hoping that you will enjoy this column, I will conclude each blog with a simple tip which you can incorporate into your daily life to reach enlightenment, a.k.a. feel good.


Today’s tip - "Get on the Floor"

This is me working.

My guess is you spend most of your time at work standing, bending over forward slightly in an uncomfortable position or sitting in a chair slumped behind a computer screen. 

Getting stiff hips and lower back issues? 

Try to spend some more time on the floor. At work and at home.

Sit on the floor when you are reading or writing. Squat whenever you can (while weeding your garden, while checking your social media, while waiting… I love squatting at airports or in other waiting rooms). Eat like the Asians and the Arabs do, on the floor or around a low table. Make it a game with the family, like a picnic in the lounge. Get those hips, your pelvis and your lower back in a different position than what you are used to. It might feel awkward and uncomfortable at first but over time, it will help you release tension and gain mobility. 

PS. Don’t do it if it is painful or if you have had injuries and have been given specific contra-indications related to these postures. In that case, contact me for special tips!


More about Yaisa

Yaisa is an ex-banker and ex-scuba diving instructor. She now spends her time between Bali, Europe and South Australia teaching yoga and working as a health coach and appropriately named her business Yoga Here & There. Since 2016 she is also yoga teacher trainer and every day, she is amazed at how much more there is to learn about yoga. She is happy to (try and) answer any questions you may have.

Phone: +61 455107533 (only WhatsApp when overseas)
Email: yoga@yaisanio.com
Website: www.yaisanio.com
Facebook: @yogahereandthere and @yogahereandthere.ttc.retreats
Instagram: @yoga_hereandthere and @yoga_hereandthere_ttc_retreats

 


Special offer for ACM Readers

Yaisa is offering a fabulous discount for midwives.

  • Offer: 10% discount, for any yoga teacher training or yoga retreat with Yoga Here & There
  • Eligibility: any midwife that reads the Yoga blog
  • Booking: Use the code "ACM" when you email or call Yaisa to find out more.  The booking process is online, so you dont need to print any vouchers.