Every stage of motherhood offers a variety of conflicting emotions. And parents may feel like they never have a second to catch their breath.

But breathing — deeply, in and out — is part of the way Alexandra DeSiato and Lauren Sacks teach parents how to navigate those complicated feelings. The pair of yoga teachers from North Carolina wrote “Whole Mama Yoga: Meditation, Mantra and Movement for Pregnancy and Beyond” offering yoga sequences for every stage of pregnancy, from pre-natal to post-partum.

DeSiato and Sacks know firsthand that meditation and breathwork can help reduce feelings of anxiety or stress. Sacks uses breathing exercises to calm herself in high-stress situations; One time, her daughter had a tantrum and tried to open the car door while Sacks was driving. But after pulling over and breathing, Sacks was able to calm her daughter down and keep driving.

“I found when my energy level is with hers and as high as hers, it doesn't do us any good,” Sacks says. “So when I can bring mine down to lower than her level, it really helps.”

The book also offers an introduction to using mantras to stay grounded and calm. DeSiato says that she practices mantra with her daughter, especially when she is nervous about going to sleep for the night.

“We say, ‘I am home. I am loved. I am safe.’ And we repeat that several times. Often as I leave her room, I hear her continuing to repeat it,” DeSiato says. “The little phrases that feel imbued with safety feel like they're almost like little magic security blankets.”

Plus, yoga practitioners often cite being more present and aware of their bodies as a result. Yoga is a way to carve out a soothing, calming space in the ever-busy life of a parent. And even for those without kids, the practice can help imbue a sense of tranquility into everyday life.

“I think [yoga] is really crucial to all humans, certainly,” Sacks says. “But the experience of motherhood really relies on that sense of support that yoga offers.”

Playlists for practicing yoga

  • Click here for Alexandra DeSiato's prenatal/postpartum yoga playlist
  • Click here for Lauren Sacks' motherhood yoga playlist

Book excerpt: 'Whole Mama Yoga: Meditation, Mantra and Movement for Pregnancy and Beyond'

By Alexandra DeSiato and Lauren Sacks

Excerpted from Alexandra DeSiato and Lauren Sacks’s new book, “Whole Mama Yoga: Meditation, Mantra, and Movement for Pregnancy and Beyond.” Reprinted with permission from Health Communications, Inc.

Ashley Locke produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Grace Griffin adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on September 11, 2023.

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