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Balancing Child-Rearing, Work and Yoga

By Radha Vine

Words of wisdom from our treasured teacher Radha

How has your own yoga practice evolved over the years?

My daily yoga practice has changed to suit the needs of my three growing children. Now that they’re teenagers, I have a bit more time in the mornings to devote to yoga. At 6.30 am, I do pranayama and meditation for 30 minutes. I drop the kids to the bus stop and then go to the gym for a cardio workout - it’s really important to get a sweat going, especially for pre-menopausal health and because I’m naturally a kapha (heavier) constitution. After cardio, I’ll do 20 minutes of yoga postures. Then I go home, immerse myself in nature by taking the dog for a walk and by 9.30 am I’m ready to start work in my hairdressing and massage business.

When my children were bubbas, I used to push the pram in the park to connect with nature, and during their midday sleep I would do a yoga nidra. On the weekends I would do a full asana practice. I had to let go of meditation when they were young, but I trusted that I would come back to it when the time was right. It’s important to allow your practice to evolve with your changing needs, not to get stuck in how you think you “should” practise.

How did you come to teach pre- and post-natal yoga?

For three years I was teaching yoga to outpatients suffering from anxiety and depression at Northside Clinic. I really loved seeing the profound effect that regular yoga relaxation practices had on the patients’ wellbeing. When it came time to decide what to do next, I asked myself “What gives me the most joy? What brings me the most peace?” and the answer came: “Newborn babies!” So I turned my compass towards teaching techniques for all the stages of pregnancy, labour and early motherhood. I’m proud to say that at Manly Yoga we've had one of the longest consistently run post-natal yoga classes on the Northern Beaches. We do inclusive and supportive things for the mother to connect with herself, bond with her child and create community with other mums.

During pre-natal classes we focus on preparing the mother for all the stages of her journey - a calm and healthy pregnancy, yogic tools for a better birth and a healthy mindset to begin motherhood. Just this week after class we included a visualisation specifically for women having a caesarean so they can come into their birthing experience calm, centered and relaxed.

Why did you choose to teach the She Births weekend program for pregnant couples?

I noticed that there was a gap between pregnant women’s expectations of birth and their actual experience of it. Often they struggled to put all their yogic skills into practice during the birthing process and they ended up disappointed in themselves because the reality didn’t meet their expectations. Women confided in me that other birthing programs had told them “it won’t hurt” or “you have a right to be angry that you had to have a caesarean” which isn’t realistic or consoling.

When I was urged to check out the She Births method, I was instantly struck by the realistic support and choices it offered. It brings together all the tools and techniques we learn at Manly Yoga and marries them with knowledge about the body’s birthing process so couples can have a beautiful birth no matter what the method (i.e. C-section or vaginal, with or without epidural). It gives partners the outer resources and confidence to support the labouring woman. The whole weekend creates a space for couples to work on their loving connection throughout their pregnancy, birth and early months of parenting. Statistics state that 97% of couples will fight in those early months, so we address how to support and love each other in that period of transition. At the last weekend, one husband summed it up saying “I loved how there was an equal balance of knowledge with love and connection as a couple”.

So what specifics do the couples learn?

We equip them with knowledge, inner strength and outer support. It’s about creating a safe, comfortable environment for the birth so the mother can initiate her relaxation response through yoga, breathing, hypno, calming and active birth techniques. She Births provides choices because you just don’t know which tools you might need on the day! The couple learns acupressure, massage and rebozo techniques to be used throughout pregnancy and for her partner to use during the birth so the mother’s pain tolerance can be enhanced through the natural endorphins and oxytocin released.

Science has now proven that She Births is incredibly effective. The respected BMJ (British Medical Journal) has just published a study on She Births techniques which resulted in 65% less need for epidural, 53% less instance of resuscitation and 44% less need for caesarean, compared to a standard hospital birth preparation course. The results are unparalleled.

You’ve had three births of your own; what is your personal experience?

When I had my second child, I was doing my Mangrove yoga teacher training so I was deeply dedicated to yoga and meditation practice and I was so relaxed that I had an accidental home birth and it was pain free! By contrast, with my third birth I was tired from looking after two little ones so although it was a short, beautiful, water birth, it was not pain free. Every woman and each birth is different, so their needs will be different. I do not dogmatically advise for or against epidurals or vaginal or caesarean births and that puts women at ease. The aim is to have an enriching experience regardless of the method.

Radha teaches pre and post-natal classes at Manly Yoga on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. BOOK A CLASS

Her next She Births workshop is on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October. BOOK HERE

You can read more about Radha’s teaching and the results of the She Births study. CLICK HERE

Childbirth Program Cuts Rates of Epidural and Caesarean Researchers Say READ MORE

Childbirth Education Needs an Upgrade READ MORE

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Photo courtesy of Bethany Petrik

About Radha Vine

What inspires me is making yogic philosophy and practices tangible to every day life. Each day we have the opportunity to live in a way that is fulfilling and joyful yet life throws lots of challenges and hardships. I love using different techniques and philosophies to cope with and sometimes transcend the mundanity and adversity of life. As the mother of three very different, fabulous, young people, a wife and a business owner I get  lots of opportunities to put this into practice.