Ancient Wisdom for Modern Mothers
More and more, I am of the belief that in order to move forward as a species, it is essential that we look back – to a simpler, slower time. There is so much about our current state as a society that is upside down, inside out, and backwards from what we as humans have traditionally known. More and more modern women are out of touch with their divine femininity and are craving ancient wisdom that used to be our birthright – especially when it comes to fertility, conception, pregnancy and birthing.
It is no coincidence that fertility in our species has declined as mother nature’s fertility has also diminished. We can see it reflected in our food system. Our soil has been eroded of nutrients with the dominance of industrial and unsustainable farming practices. The sad result is that our food has a fraction of the nutrients that it did less than 100 years ago, weakening our minds and bodies in the process.
In our modern way of thinking, there is a disconnect between us and the world around us. But the truth is, we are one and the same with our environment. We are all made up of the same building blocks of the universe: earth, water, fire, air and ether. This is one of the basic tenets of Ayurveda, the 7,000 year old system of natural medicine.
As a practitioner of Ayurveda, I have noticed patterns of discontent in many women who come to me. These women are reporting feelings of anxiety, being generally out of touch with themselves and with their true nature. The truth is, life is so simple, but we’ve overcomplicated it. Modern-day stress and living out of alignment the rhythms of the universe and your true purpose can take you out of your divine feminine vibration. This leads to a whole host of health problems. I have found that problems in our society like declining fertility rates, increasing miscarriages, much of it can be attributed to hormonal imbalances in our minds and bodies – certainly a reflection of the imbalance in our greater world.
Women are natural creators – and creating a child may be the most significant work you’ll ever accomplish. It is an enormous task that we as women have been blessed with – you are the portal through which new souls enter this plane. You are a channel for divinity to materialize in human form.
During pregnancy, a woman’s goddess qualities are enhanced. Your aura becomes a luminous gold. Your intuitive and clairvoyant abilities are heightened. You radiate boundless love from your heart chakra. You are the embodiment of Mother Earth: providing nourishment for new life. People will stare at you – not just because of the big belly, but because you are literally radiating divine life force. Allow your pregnancy the proper time, space and attention in your life that it deserves.
We must tackle the sicknesses pervading our divine feminine essence through a multidimensional healing approach. Ayurveda can show us the way through proper meditation, foods, self-care, self-love. Ayurveda also offers us ancient wisdom regarding pregnancy. By taking time for proper self-care during pregnancy and keeping your hormones and nervous system in balance, you are already caring for your unborn child. Here are a few ways to do so:
Nourishing Prenatal Diet
Eat sattvic, or freshly prepared foods as much as possible. Be sure to avoid leftovers, processed foods, and canned foods. Never eat anything microwaveable.
Eat organic – we have to work that much harder nowadays to get produce with good nutrient content, and organic produce has been shown to have a much higher percentage of nutrients as conventional. Plus, pesticides found in industrially grown produce can be damaging to a growing baby’s nervous system.
Favour healthy fats like salmon, olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, eggs, and yogurt. These are crucial to build your baby’s healthy brain.
Favour warm, lightly cooked foods – limit your intake of raw foods during pregnancy, which are harder to digest.
Listen to your body – eat when you are hungry, don’t eat when you are not. Don’t force yourself to eat just because you think you should be gaining weight. The body is intelligent – it knows how to do this. Listen to its signals.
Ayurveda takes into consideration the energetic blueprint that foods carry. This is different from the building blocks of food, i.e. protein, fat, carbohydrate. In Ayurveda, a healthy diet is a well-rounded diet, and this means it is important to incorporate the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) and the seven colors of the rainbow into your diet. Place special emphasis on sweet, sour and salty tastes. The most difficult color to incorporate is blue, so be sure you are eating lots of blueberries! Make a fruit salad that incorporates each of the seven colors.
If you take the proper care to eat nourishing, easily digestible, nutrient-dense foods during pregnancy, your reward will be a baby with strong and vital prana, or life force.
Give love to yourself and your baby
In Sanskrit, the word for oil is the same word as love: sneha. This says everything. Ayurveda recommends everyone give themselves a daily self-oil massage – this daily ritual is even more vital during pregnancy. By applying organic plant-based oils to the body, you are literally giving love to yourself and your baby – while also giving your skin a dose of healthy fats, helping to diminish stretch marks, restoring skin’s elasticity, and giving relief to that pregnant belly itching.
How to: After showering, apply oil to the joints in circular motions, long strokes down the limbs, paying extra attention to the belly in gentle, clockwise circular motions. As you are applying oil to the belly, think loving thoughts towards your baby.
Before going to bed, wash your face, hands and feet. Rub oil on the soles of your feet and the crown of your head before turning in for bed.
Ojas is the Sanskrit term for overall vitality, well-being and immunity. The best way you can guarantee your baby will have proper ojas is to take it easy, and be in as happy and peaceful of a state as you possibly can. If you are not someone accustomed to turning inward, now is the time to start! Stay at home and rest more than you typically do in your life. You will want to, anyway, if you are listening to your body’s cues. Avoid overworking, and feelings of anger and worry. Now is not the time to jet set – although a relaxing “babymoon” can be wonderful! Take a walk through nature, mindfully absorbing all the sights and sounds. Laugh. Listen to sound-healing music or mantras. Burn some incense while soaking in the tub. Seek out experiences that dazzle you. Surround yourself with beauty and harmony. The mother’s state of happiness is the single most important predictor in determining your baby’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The more you can nurture and take care of yourself during this magical time, the better.
Kiera Nachman, Founder + Creator of Sundara Holistic is an Ayurvedic practitioner and healer, with a practice based in New York City. She specializes in natural skincare, herbs, holistic nutrition, energy medicine, and Ayurvedic prenatal and postpartum care. Kiera created Sundara Holistic after completing her studies in Ayurveda, a 7,000 year-old-system of health + healing from India.
Image by Ivana Martyn