‘A lot of Yoga Practices have been designed by men, are fairly rigid and have been handed down in systems that say everyone should be doing what the teacher says at the same time. They also originate from tropical places and a lot of the people doing yoga are not in tropical places, have a womb and are not men, so that’s not a good fit!‘
HOW WAS WOMB YOGA CREATED?
A seasoned Yoga Therapist, Uma became pregnant and started to adapt her Yoga practice to suit what was actually going on in her body and being and then developed Yoga for women who were pregnant. And it is from the basis – that women are cyclical beings and have different stages of life – that Womb Yoga developed.
A BASIC PRINCIPLE OF YOGA
The basic idea in Yoga is that all bodies are worked with, and only one of these is visible – the physical body.
Yoga also works with energy, breath, mind, heart, feelings, the intuitive and bliss bodies. That means we can do Yoga without moving – i.e. Yoga Nidra and breathing practices.
The basic model of western women shows up to a Yoga class – bleeding, menopausal, trying to get pregnant, post-partum etc – bringing all these natural experiences that are going on within – just does not match the standard system that is being taught by someone who has been trained – in a good-hearted way – to do standard pratices that are supposedly good for everybody all of the time.
And they just aren’t good for everybody all the time.
Over the years, Uma developed different ways of moving, of breathing, of resting – different paces and different kinds of methods that made the Yoga fit better for women.
Fundamentally, Uma and Womb Yoga asks ‘how are you feeling today and what fits best today?’
People often say Womb Yoga looks quite feminine; it includes lots of flowing, spiralling movements – and looks quite different – but – it has all the powerful healing elements of Yoga that are nourishing AND is a good for the individual on that day.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A WOMB YOGA CLASS?
Averaging at 2 hours, Uma’s classes are longer than a usual class and she works with seasonal variations with the class set up in a circle – no military lines!
Classes begin with rest – a Yoga Nidra – giving everyone an opportunity to tune into their own being in their own way. i.e. some may feel like lying down, some may need bolsters and cushions, essentially so that each woman can do a so called internal weather report for that moment.
And only then, there is a check-in followed by gradual activations. The activations are very gentle and include options to do more or less which is decided be each individual.
The practices are appropriate for the time of day, the season, the place and the phase of The Moon.
Basically, Womb Yoga classes are suited to the people in the class and the outer and inner cycles and environment.
WHY YOGA NIDRA IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF WOMB YOGA
Nidra is a Sanskrit word that means sleep – and Yoga is connection with what is. Yoga Nidra is the sleep of the Yogi’s or The Science of Sleep.
It’s a meditative heart-based practice that focuses on our innate capacity to fall asleep (which Uma has observed that many of us seem to be losing!).
In Yoga Nidra there’s no movement and we rest and listen. The process of doing this brings us into a healing and restorative state. It also allows to connect with dream states – it’s a trance work practice that’s hugely accessible and everyone can do it.
All that’s needed is a comfortable position and an audio to listen to.
Essentially, Yoga Nidra enables us to tune into what cycle of energy we’re in – then when the more physically active Yoga practices begin, we’re less likely to hurt ourselves and more likely to know what’s a good fit.
It’s a practice that’s becoming increasingly popular as more and more people experience sleep difficulties and Uma feels it’s the key ingredient for maintaining wellbeing and for making sure your Yoga Practice is appropriate.
HEART-WOMB RIVER GREETING & YOGA NIDRA WITH UMA
If you’re feeling inspired to get started, here are some popular practices to try out. I’d love to know how you get on!
Writer. Yoga Therapist. Celtic nomad. Yoga Nidra nerd. Author of Yoni Shakti. Mother of three. Ex-bike courier. Recovering scholar.
Uma was first introduced to yoga at the age of four by her mother when we used to watch Yoga for Health on Thames TV. One of her earliest memories is of adjusting her mothers asana practice (she had an awkward hand hand position in Dhanurasana). She began meditating at nine on a pilgrimage with my maternal grandmother. Yoga and meditation have been part of her daily life ever since.
As a naturally curious and enquiring yogini, she have engaged passionately and critically with a variety of quite different schools of yoga and yoga therapy, most especially Structural Yoga Therapy, Satyananda Yoga and Iyengar Yoga.