Cesarean rates are at an alarming high in this country, one of the reasons being that women in the US are not given the option of having a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) as often they are in other countries. I was pleased to have received a call and email from a local VBAC support group wanting me to speak about the benefits of prenatal yoga. Prenatal yoga can be a wonderful tool for empowering woman and helping them work with their bodies in the birthing process. I also have my own personal experiences to share from my two extremely different births. The first being a terrifying labor lasting 44 hours in the hospital and finally having my daughter being pulled out of me with the use of forceps and the body weight of the doctor using all his might. My husband watching in horror as the doctor had little respect for, in his words, “His favorite toy.”
Dr. Forceps then proceeds to tell us that if I ever happened to get pregnant again I would have to be scheduled a c-section. Three years later…empowered from the connection with my own body and baby, through the practice of yoga, I was able to deliver the baby into my midwives arms without the use of drugs. I would have opted for a home birth the second time had I not believed the doctor to some extent that my body was not capable of birthing a baby safely and should just schedule a c section, however I was intuitive enough to not let them induce me (being 9 days overdue) and believed I could have a natural delivery.
After juggling my over extending schedule and some back and forth emails with the coordinator of the VBAC support group, I decided that I would find a sub for my weekly class and offer my support and knowledge to these woman for one of the most important moments of their lives. I surrendered my previous commitment to my students, set the date, and hit send on the email. Much to my surprise the response that I received this time was much different than the “Delightful!! We meet at…”. The vibe had changed to “I just checked out your website and I am concerned about the Eastern aspect of yoga. I had been under the impression that it was just a really great stretching regimen. Sorry to take up your time.”
My mind came to a screeching halt as if I were about to witness a car crash, and then I felt this flush of anger rush through my veins. I have to admit that I don’t regularly get to feel this emotion, laid back people pleaser that I am, and it was quite exhilarating. (For those of you that have kids and have seen the movie Enchanted. I resemble the cheesy Giselle character when she gets angry.) Where was this anger really coming from? Maybe from my experience of how yoga helped me with one of the most empowering moments of my life… to experience an ecstatic natural childbirth. To think that these woman would not be able to get the information and choose for themselves did make me angry. VBAC group leader was deciding for them, just like the doctors decide for them that they need to have a c-section.
It was also my ego. What was this woman thinking of me? Had we met in person she would have seen my similarities instead of my differences, my light instead of some darkness coming from some other side. I’m sure I could have charmed her socks off…
I wonder if she assumes that I am a Hindu that runs around chanting in Sanskrit and wearing a bindi on my forehead. OK, I do love chanting and I have been known to sport a bindi when I am with my Shiva Divas.
Regardless of this, I simply wanted to serve these women, not turn them Hindu. Swami Satchidinanda said, “I am not Hindu, I am Undo.”
It is ironic to me, that a group wanting to make change in the beliefs of the medical community can be so stuck in their own. Why do some doctors push c-sections for a woman once they have had one, not even considering that the second time could be different? FEAR. Why was I uninvited to this group that is supposed to empower woman to make their own choices…FEAR…What keeps us separate from each other? Many times.. FEAR. Empowerment can never come from FEAR. I have people of all faiths come to practice the art and science of yoga with me. When we practice together we realize our similarities instead of our differences. We act from a place of Love not Fear. We leave with a sense of peace and EMPOWERMENT. So yes, yoga is so much more than stretching my dears. Weather I am going to church to pray, or reaching for my toes, I do not want to be separate from God.
As I iron my wraps for the Satchidanada Ashram, where I will be assisting a yoga for cancer teacher training, tomorrow. I reflect further on the reverence and respect for all things, and all people regardless of their beliefs. I imagine the once Catholic nun that now garbs herself in orange that will wake us with her lovely violin music. I think of the Lotus meditation shrine with all of the symbols of the different theologies, welcoming everyone to pray and meditate. I think about how different I pack for this trip, leaving my shoulder bearing dresses that I adore, and high heel shoes for a more modest wardrobe. As I reflect upon this journey that I am on I feel inner peace and acceptance wash over me, fully excepting of what is , grateful for the present moment, the path ahead, and light within. In these things we are all united.