Yogatherapy and breastfeeding. The mechanisms of nature.
The modern world is eclectic. We live in big cities but not able to communicate with people. We confess our love for technology but dream to spend one day without phone and Internet. We are materialistic society, dreaming of the spiritual wealth through yoga and spirituality.
The modern world is universal. Women have pushed men in business field, and the term “husband on paternity leave” is in our reality. Now we have the right to live as we want, we love whom we want, we manage our time as we want. We have conquered the nature. Almost we did.
Sure you smiled by reading this because we still live according to the Nature laws. Men and women still need each other for reproduction. The reproduction instinct is more powerful than the most advanced civilization. The woman still wants to be a Mother and give her child all her care and love.
And how mother’s love is most expressed? In the warmth of native body, in the smell and first taste of breast milk. For centuries every new generation begins its journey from the taste of mom’s love. Breast milk is a priceless gift by nature, a natural and sophisticated at the same time. Women always wanted to breastfeed. Even the modern technology of artificial substitutes could not diminish their wish to be “full-fledged mom.”
Of course, not every mother has perfect natural mechanism of lactation in a natural way. Often there are difficulties of various kinds, and sometimes it is impossible to set up breastfeeding. This problem was at all times. So people have always tried to understand better this magical process and learn how to help it.
One of the most ancient systems that helps the woman to work with her body is yoga. This is a very powerful source of theoretical and practical knowledge about the various functions and capabilities of human body. It accumulated and transmitted for centuries. Currently, we continue to discover yoga in the modern interpretation. This does not reduce its relevance and effectiveness as an integrated system of healing people.
What is the magic power of yoga? The yoga works at several levels of the human body. While practising yoga asanas, the ‘rough’ body works involving skin, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints. At the same time body’s “subtle” structures are also active. The breath, which normalizes the work of nervous system and blood circulation. It regulates the outflow and inflow of blood to particular organs. Also it has a powerful effect on the body’s hormonal regulators, which stabilize the endocrine and hormonal systems.
In general, today no one doubt that there is an obvious benefit of this ancient science. Can yoga practice help a young mother to set up breastfeeding? Are there asanas that are able to adjust and even enhance the lactation?
At first let’s investigate the physiological part of the mechanism of lactation.
A woman’s breast is a paired organ, consisting of glandular and muscular tissues. The glandular part of the breast (or the mammary gland) depends on the hormones secreted at different periods of a woman’s life. The prolactin hormone handles the milk production. It starts to act in the body of a pregnant woman at about the seventh month of pregnancy and preparing breasts for nursing. The muscular system of the breast consisting of the big, small pectoral and intercostal muscles. It maintains efficient breath, supports nutrition and metabolic processes related to the functioning of the glandular tissue. Thus, the interaction between the body and the organism performs the vital function in the post-partum period.
The disruption of a particular part of organism is an obstacle to effective natural lactation. Yet, with the help of certain yoga practices, the woman can stabilize and even improve her breastfeeding.
First, it is worth to remember that an integrated approach is needed to the body, involving in the process and muscular, respiratory, and hormonal structures. Secondly, we should not forget that the practice in this case need personal approach. And the most reliable solution would be a plan of classes taking into account of personal history under the guidance of an experienced specialist.
We describe the general principles of practice to improve breastfeeding. As I already mentioned, the good practice based on the simultaneous study of glandular and muscular structures of the chest. To normalize the prolactin and related hormone production is is useful to offer high-quality metabolic processes in breast. The most effective yoga mechanisms are pranayamas – specific techniques of conscious breathing. The right deep and even breathing and will supply the tissues with oxygen and nutrients and help to withdraw the products of decay. Also, the pranayama practice normalizes the nervous system. It provides parasympathetic effects on the body and minimizes stress reactions. But for effective milk production this is a must.
The practice of full yogic breathing had special benefits (and its separate parts, especially the sternal-clavicular breath) Nadi-Sodhana Pranayama (alternate breathing), Ujjayi-Pranayama (“breath of the winner”), Bramari (“buzzing of bees”).
This also is attributed by Shavasana – a powerful relaxing and rejuvenating asana. After some practice it will be a real salvation for young mums, helping them to recover effectively and quickly while the baby is sleeping.
A good tool to increase lactation the asanas that work for the rib cage and shoulder girdle are useful. For example Namaste behind the back, various locks (variations of Gomukhasana), the body traction with an emphasis of hands on the wall (variation of Uttanasana).
Yet, one should not focus on excessive power part – there is a risk to overwork chest muscles, and block a natural way to gather milk in the breast. Perform these asanas in a dynamic style, holding each pose for a few seconds
An excellent means of milk “accumulation” will be in the implementation Marjariasana – “poses of cat-cow”. Dynamic practice of this sequence will allow the milk ducts to hold milk more efficiently and faster to distribute it throughout the gland, reducing the risk of lactostasis. Also, the mild inverted poses are also welcome such as Viparita-karani Mudra (“pose of the inverted candle”), Sarvangasana (the “perfect pose”), and the dynamic execution of Halasana (“plow pose”) and can even lead to excessive accumulation and outpouring of milk.
Besides, the inverted asanas has a beneficial effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary system, which controls the humoral system of the body and, thus, exerts a powerful hormonal support for the lactation.
So the practice of yoga can have a significant impact on the natural mechanism of breastfeeding, bringing the woman to full awareness of the ancient instinct to be a Mother!