Aqua-natal yoga – of course! Mixing the 3 finest elements of life : water, yoga & birth
Yesterday was a truly magical day in the life of Doula Paris.
I went to meet Perrine Alliod to observe her Prenatal Aqua-Yoga class at ‘La Source’ - a holisitic pregnancy centre – located in Asnieres sur Seine. And I loved it so much that I also ended up staying for her other 2 classes: ‘eveil baby’ (basically Mum & Baby yoga in water) and women’s aqua yoga.
I have always adored being in water; for me it brings such a wonderful quality of peace, and wellness, and release. So the idea of aqua-natal yoga seemed like a brilliant and obvious fusion (in fact - how have I never been to one of these classes before now?)! My love of water is undoubtedly influenced by my own mum’s passion for swimming; she chucked me straight in the pool from being a tiny dot of a baby.
And what bliss to be able to observe these classes! It was clear that being in the pool brought such joy and freedom and lighness to these mums, mums-to-be and their babies. Not once did one of the babies cry. They were in their element; laughing, splashing, exploring…
The extroadinary lightness of being
At the end of the class Perrine did a relaxation where we floated completely free and weightless. In this busy and heavy world it is very rare that we experience a feeling of such deep release and absolute lightness (not to mention when you are also hugely and overwhelmingly pregnant!).
As I floated serenely, Perrine came over and held me underneath the water, pressing around my spine and shoulders gently. I felt wonderfully held and nurtured– a very strong image of being a baby and being enveloped in water came to me completely spontaneously. It was extremely powerful and nurturing; totally involuntary yet safe.
Another fabulous woman
Perrine did her yoga training with Birthlight (like me!) – and her character is absolutely emblematic of the Birthlight approach and philosophy. She is warm hearted, generous, honest - and her teachings so clearly come from a genuine love and support of other women.
What is constantly reinforced to me by the Birthlight family, and many other incredible women who have shared their experiences and skills with me over the years is this: Pregnancy SHOULD be full of these truly nourishing and joyful moments. It is something to be basked in and deeply enjoyed. ‘Il faut en profiter,’ as the french so often say (roughly meaning ‘you must make the most of it’) – the French are, after all, our species emblem of making the most of life - and cheese – and especially garlic.
As I so often say to the mums I work with: Pregnancy is a unique miracle. Your body is doing something completely unparalleled and formidable– it is building an entire new human being. You may only ever get this one chance, one experience of being pregnant – take time to completely marvel in it!
There are so many things that one can potentially worry about in pregnancy (as in life in general) and yet there is SO MUCH to be relished and enjoyed. Take time to feel. To absolutely experience every luscious element of it. Take time to nourish yourself; your body and your mind - and your heart - because right now you are doing something truly excellent.
Even if you never did anything like this in your life before – this is your chance. Try Yoga, Try meditation, Try swimming, Try singing– do it now. Pregnancy is every woman’s unrivalled opportunity for personal growth.
The heart of mindful birthing
Ultimately you have 2 choices – you can choose to worry about everything or marvel at everything…or a varying concoction of the two. But every moment of worry is a missed opportunity of marvel. Just like I teach in mindful birthing techniques: be curious, explore...As with labour contractions (or surges as we call them in hypnobirthing): YOU can decide to see surges as something negative and painful, to be avoided - or you can accept them, welcome them, appreciate them, even thank them - as an inevitable and useful part of the process: surges are your body’s way of helping your cervix to open, and bringing you baby closer towards you…
Only you can manage this mindset. Only you can make these changes.
And so many women do meet this opportunity with open arms, and an open heart. And incredible things happen...
Suggested techniques : As part of my hypnobirthing /mindful birth preparation techniques I often use visualisations of waves - rising and falling, waterfalls and water sounds to aid meditation and relaxation. If you are someone who finds water especially soothing and free-ing then try incorporating them into your practice!
Find out more about ‘Le Source:’ centre de perinatalite et de la femme here: (located in Asnière sur seine - a 10 mins direct train ride from Gare St Lazarre)