Tara Stiles is an internationally renowned yogi, the founder of Strala Yoga, and a best-selling author. In her new class Prenatal Yoga: The Complete Guide, she provides safe and effective yoga routines that will bring you energy, ban morning sickness, and so much more.
Pregnancy is a time when well-wishes, excitement, and loads of advice bombard you from everywhere seemingly possible. I'm eight months in now and have felt the emotional wave from those first few months of being secretly sick and exhausted to the excitement of sharing the news with friends, to getting to a size where strangers smile sweetly as you walk down the street.
Although well-intentioned and sometimes useful, the sheer amount of input can be overwhelming at a time when it feels essential to stay connected to yourself. "Follow how you feel," an ethos I live my life by, has become particularly handy through navigating this time of my life. It's helped me have some fun, drop stress and tension, and move from fear into joy.
I'm happy to divulge what I've found helpful and game-changing for me personally during this time. Take it or leave it, but most important, stay connected to you. The magic is inside. That's one piece of advice I will blast out forever.
It's the personal practice that has changed and saved me. It's how I practice and lead others through yoga. The process is simple: Slow down, soften, feel, and respond. We are basically programmed through life to do things the opposite. Go faster, toughen up, get as much done as possible, and listen to everyone but yourself. It drives me bonkers. It's a destructive, disconnected way to navigate through life that unfortunately has become so normal for us. The world is what we create it to be, and the practice of sensitizing to how I actually feel is my golden ticket to discovering what works best for me. This is how I shape my life and everything around me.
The practice is regular, there is no end point or goal aside from connection, and it's very simple. Right from bed, first thing in the morning and before sleep at night, I sit up comfortably and spend a few moments breathing deeply and tuning into how I feel. Works great for a midday break, too.
2. Snack like you mean it.
There are landfills of nutrition advice for pregnancy, and it's basically meaningless until you find what works for you. For me, especially as my pregnancy progresses, the simpler the foods I eat, the better. Honestly I was a bit worried I would crave nasty fast foods and have to resist my way to staying healthy. But thanks to that whole sensitizing practice, I found the choices that work best for my body and my baby.
Small, frequent meals and snacks have become my everyday jam. I'm the type of person who before pregnancy would run through the morning often forgetting to eat until I felt cranky. Now you can find me typically with a banana first thing in the morning, or fresh bread and almond butter, or even a warm soup. I eat small and often, like a grazing wild animal. Simple healthy foods do the best for me, and they're also what I actually feel like eating, which is exciting.
Another total change is not concerning myself with what foods are appropriate at what time of day. I might have a simple bowl of pasta and veggies in the morning, and French toast with fruits at night. I'm reminded this is the best way for me right now, when every time I'm out for a dinner without having a snack beforehand, I order a big meal and am left with heartburn for the rest of the night and into the morning. This brings me right back to my small snacks.
3. Move like you love yourself.
Movement is essential for well-being at any time in our life, and it feels especially essential during pregnancy. I'm lucky to know this fun fact going into this adventure, but I also feel it more than ever the days when I don't move as much. I'm not talking about checking off a daily power workout, but making time to move like you love yourself, every day.
Like the snacking, it's best when it happens many times during the day and is tailored to boost my mood and remedy any creeks and cracks in my body. I have a mat rolled out by my bed wherever I am and get on it every morning and every night. I'll also stop, drop, and move several times a day, and go wherever that takes me. It's made all the difference in feeling great, being ache and pain free, and enjoying a healthy amount of energy and creativity.
4. Live as usual. Almost.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was literally packing for a five-week, 20-flight Europe and Asia Strala trip. I was a bit flipped out, even though we had been trying for a while, that this was the timing. Morning sickness kicked in full-on a week or so into the trip, and I just wanted to be horizontal under the covers with some simple soup and sleep for a month. I got through it and planned better for the next several trips I had coming up.
We travel a ton for Strala courses and events and kept the schedule as is, pretty much. The big change is we added several days between coming and going to each city, so I had time to relax, rest, acclimate, and enjoy the adventures. This new way of extra time worked so well I feel silly for having spent years buzzing in and out of cities and hurrying along to the next event. Wherever you go there you are, and it's so much more enjoyable to not be in a hurry. Turns out I feel like I'm doing better work now than ever.
It's obvious for me to keep doing the work I do in my life, while pregnant, and after the baby comes. How I live and share with the people around me is so focused on learning how to release stress and move easily through all kinds of challenge, from exactly where we are each day. So of course this all keeps going, and life continues as usual, with a whole lot of added space for the well-being and happiness of my growing family. Slow down. Soften. Feel. Respond. Works for upcoming babies and pretty much everything else we do too.