• I Almost Died and then Thrived: Lessons from the Yoga of Labor.

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    In honor of mother’s day, in the spirit of truth, satya, I’ll tell you the story of how I almost died during the birth of my son; at the very same time, I was born to myself.  I realized I had no time to lose doing whatever I felt called here to do.

    The Yoga of Labor. Feel free to skip down if you just want the lessons learned!

    The pregnancy was perfect; Picture me round and blissful, working mama to be, soothing myself through aches and pains with long walks and prenatal yoga. I had a great team- Midwives, a rockin’ doula and my partner by my side all prepped for a sweet home birth.

    And when the time came I felt ready. If the birth was anything like the pregnancy had been- it was going to be a breeze.

    I hiked 3 miles and taught my 500-hour yoga teacher training final deep in the forest in the San Gabriel mountains above LA.

    “You look ripe” my teacher said, as we hiked down the dirt path. “Baby is hanging low!”

    She was right and the next day I was in early labor. I walked around the neighborhood, picked up yummy takeout, got ready, riding contractions about every 8 minutes on through the night.

    The following day I woke up knowing I needed to move, yoga flow, hike. Get the birth moving along, so we went into the San Gabriels again, my partner, baby in belly and I, and hiked about 5 miles up a steep hill. I’d heard uphill was good for moving labor forward, but I was slightly regretting it with contractions now every 5 or 6 mins. That night was rougher- as it was hard to sleep through the frequent pain.

    The next day the midwives arrived and set up. They told me to – guess what – walk again! So walk I did, though I was in active labor now, up to the local farmers market park.

    The day was a crisp, clear, cool October and I took in with breathtaking gratitude the immensity of the mountains as I walked another 3 miles. In between steps stopping every 2 or3 minutes to lean on my partner and doula to ride out the intense contractions. The mountains raised up endlessly above us, a perfect metaphor for this little Mount Kailash of a man I was growing inside.

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    I don’t know how I did it – but when I came down from that hike apparently I was ready to begin pushing. So I did- for a few hours. Doing squats and lions breath to power along.

    Soon, after being with me for every moment, my exhausted partner was stepping aside to hide, wiping away tears he only toldme about later, because he was so concerned about me and the baby after 3 long, championship days of labor.

    I am little and I am strong and sometimes I am stubborn.

    I had wanted more than anything a blissful home birth. No medication or unnecessary interference.

    But I was exhausted and I knew baby wasn’t coming out that day if I didn’t do something more. What I had was a baby too big to come out without a little help.

    So I called it; asked to go to the hospital. Barely getting there in time.

    3 days of labor including 12 miles of hiking later,  I gave birth to a healthy baby that evening in a supportive hospital. After an assisted natural birth, both baby and I were stable, though exhausted. Kailash still talks about the dark peacefulness of the womb “like getting a big hug” and describes birth as “getting squished out.”

    Lessons from the Yoga of Labor


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    These can be applied to the Yoga of any labor. . creative, business, education, or of course birth!

    1. Let go for presence in the now.

    I had to let go of the expectations of what I wanted to really be present and open to what is.

    2. Decisive is queen.

    I knew what my body needed, so clearly, in pregnancy and labor. My partner commented there was no longer any fluff. In the heat of labor, I’d say “Push here” “Do this.” “Water.” Complete clarity and no need for niceties. Say what we need.

    3. Trust the body.

    A sense of self, autonomy and truth. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I trusted myself to know when my body had had enough. I knew I could take pain, after 3 days I wasn’t worried about that. I knew when to get help.

    4. Connectedness.

    While in labor I felt the barriers between myself and others drop away. I was intimately connected with all other women giving birth at that moment, with all other women who had ever given birth, across space and time. It all felt immediate.

    5. Mother energy is always here for us, mythic, powerful, peaceful, serene,

    What I was tapping into is the power of the divine mother energy. She is mythic, larger than any one of us, inside all of us, and animates any creative act of giving birth, to child or creation.

    6. Remember, This is it!

    After that labor and birth I had an intense knowing that this is it. There’s no time to waste. No time to not be my best effort at being me. No time to lose doing anything but what I am put here on this earth to do.

    7. Heart calls are for Heeding.

    A few months after he was born I listened to my heart-call and began my yoga business – teaching yoga, meditation, Ayurveda and mindfulness full-on, and began write from the heart each week in this blog.

    No matter what we are birthing, whether it’s a project, job, relationship, work of art, ourselves or a child, that creative energy of mother earth is there to support us.

    My wish is that this story inspires you to take risks, be bold, have the courage to enter or leave that relationship, write or publish that blog or book, and to really share and create whatever it is that your soul is calling forth.

    Susanna

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    If you are inspired to deepen your yoga practice or journey – I’d love to talk.

    I work with individuals 1 on 1 in online-learning custom coaching programs to transform your life with the tools of yoga. I also run in-person Yoga Teacher Trainings. Check out the upcoming one in Orlando, Fl.