Written by Radha Rani Bradley - Co-founder of Akhanda Yoga Australia
On July 10th at 9.54pm, I gave birth to my second child Soma - a baby girl, born healthy and happy and in a bath full of warm water with Yogi Sadashiv immersed fully in the experience with me.
During the day and days previous I had been feeling mild contractions that would come and go through out the day. I was eager to bring on birth at this stage, my body was uncomfortable, I wasn't sleeping. Eating had become miserable as every mouthful was followed by intense acid reflux as the baby had left me no room for my stomach and I was going to the bathroom around 7 times during the night. However, no amount of clary sage smelling seemed to be speeding on this delivery.
At around 7pm of the evening of July 10th, I had just put our two and a half year old to bed when the contractions began to build. They went from 7 minutes apart to 3 in the space of about 45 minutes and were getting much stronger. Sadashiv was working in Brisbane treating as an Oesteopath and was on the way home but stuck in traffic. We had his cousin helping me and she could see things were now progressing fast.
I called the midwife at 8pm to say we had better come in and when Sadashiv walked in through the door at 8.10pm we did a swift turn around and were out of the house in five minutes. The contractions were increasing in strength and I had to hold onto the dashboard to steady myself and breathe through them. Using brahmaree breath - honey bee breathing (humming on the exhalation) I was able to keep calm through them. Knowing as well that they last only about a minute and when that's over you feel almost completely normal again.
Om Namah Shivaya became my mantra - letting go into Shiva - dissolving into letting go. Letting go of fear, of ego, of any resistance I had to pain, trusting in my body and the baby.
Jai Ma - Victorious mother - also got uttered quite a bit, although turning the ma sound into an ohhhh and ooooooh helps more as Ma gives rise to higher vocals and low sounds help your body relax and open.
By 8.45pm we had arrived and easily found a parking spot at this time of night. The birthing centre was empty save from us and although the walk from the car was tricky we got in and made ourselves at home. The lights were low, the stars were out and the moon was nearly full. We put on the sounds of Tibetan bells to set the mood.
We hopped in the bath and Sadashiv was rubbing coconut oil into my shoulders to keep my shoulders and neck free of tension that might hold me back. On the walls all around the room were positive affirmations - I can do this. I am looking forward to meeting my baby. and my favourite on the door of the bathroom "Love".
Things were really starting to progress now and as I reached the contractions where your whole body is taken over by this incredible force, I tried to embrace the pain, I was struck by how union - yoga keeps you in the present.
While it was helpful for me to know that "this too shall pass" and in a short while I would hold my baby and there would be no more pain, I was also aware that I had to be fully in the moment - that to shy away from it in my mind even for a second would take me away from where I wanted to be, would make the process longer.
I had to surrender to the present and the present was hurting. I had to say "Yes" to it. To hold my arms wide open to it and give my body to the process and as I did so every single second became clear, yes sore but also heightened, I was birthing, I was giving birth to a being and my body knew exactly how to do this. It was marvellous. To say it wasn't sore or forcefully painful would be untrue but I knew I had to do it and I had to feel it.
At 9.54pm, after just a short time probably 3 really huge contractions she came into the world, Sadashiv and I scooped her out of the water and she was here. We had done it, the miracle of birth, and she was perfect and worth it in every way. I was relieved and happy that I didn't have to do it again, I was exhausted and sore and still had the placenta to birth, many stitches were also needed but I was overwhelmingly thankful that all had gone smoothly.
I know this is not everyone's story and that there are often unforeseen circumstances that change the course of events but then it is even more useful to embrace the truth of each present moment. Through this we can achieve anything and leave no scars to heal as whatever that moment brings is just as it is, we cannot change it only accept it and if we do even painful moments are precious.
I look forward to exploring this more during our November Teacher Training and delving into the truth of Atha Yoga Anushasanam - And now we come to the practice of yoga, Now we are here in this moment in Union. True union of body, mind, spirit, accepting every moment as it is.