YOGABIRTH MANIFESTO 2020: A Public Statement of Identity, Ethos and Intention
Who We Are and Who We Work With
YogaBirth is an association of professionally trained teachers of antenatal and postnatal yoga and childbirth education. We are dedicated to supporting parents during the childbearing year, and we welcome all pregnant people and their partners into our classes. Developed over three decades, our specialised approach to childbirth education through yoga combines the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of birth preparation and the early postnatal period.
Our members are trained and certified through YogaBirth and regularly continue their professional development with courses, personal yoga practice, experience at births and time spent with new parents. The YogaBirth Association provides annual study days and residential weekends featuring professionals who share current research and lead practical sessions. Many of our members are also skilled practitioners of other disciplines, including acupuncture, shiatsu, reflexology, physiotherapy, cranio-sacral therapy, midwifery, doula support, lactation counselling, baby massage and motherhood. We work closely with midwives and obstetricians, GPs, other healthcare professionals and yoga teachers, birth activists and childbirth organisations.
Concessionary rates are offered where necessary so that no one is excluded due to cost.
The Ethos of YogaBirth
The ancient Sanskrit word “yoga” means “union”. We believe that the union of mind, body and breath, as practiced in YogaBirth classes, is the ideal way to prepare for labour and birth, and for the immense transition into parenthood.
Our integrity as YogaBirth teachers is rooted in our respect for every new parent, as well as our firm belief in the body’s natural intelligence and in the instinctive, physiological process of birth. We honour childbirth as a healthy, normal event in the life of an individual, family and society. We also recognise that there is no correct way to give birth and everyone makes individual choices. Sometimes birth requires appropriate medical support and we encourage a positive and open-minded attitude to the safety-net of modern technology. YogaBirth teachers are committed to providing up-to-date, unbiased information, so as to inform people but not make decisions for them, nor judge them for their preferences.
Through YogaBirth, parents can approach the birth of their baby aware of their options and of what is personally important and appropriate. They can move forward with a balanced attitude and with new resources for labour and early parenthood.
Our Intentions ~ How We Work
In YogaBirth classes we teach deep and gentle bodywork appropriate for pregnancy and the postnatal period. We integrate important exercises, including pelvic floor and postural awareness, to optimise health during the childbearing year. You will develop physical strength and suppleness, an essential combination for birthing and parenting, and you can experience the vital energy that connects you to your baby. Many reflect upon this as a wonderful time of first bonding.
Our classes are infused with preparation for labour and birth, incorporating intelligent, gravity-assisting positions and movements. These provide great comfort, keep your baby well-oxygenated, and have the potential to make birth significantly easier, faster and uncomplicated.
Breathing, essential to life and birth, is the core of YogaBirth classes. Over the weeks, through the practise of simple breath awareness, you become familiar with the natural rhythm of your breath and so increase your ability to focus inward. This practise helps calm the busy mind, clearing the way for you to hear your own intuitive voice and birth preferences. These insights help dispel much of the fear around the birthing process so that you can approach labour with peace of mind: with trust in your body’s natural wisdom and power, and confidence in your innate ability to give birth. When your body takes over during labour you can instinctively use your breath to soothe, steady and guide yourself through the contractions.
YogaBirth classes are not spiritually prescriptive. However, people often remark that through our classes they keenly sense and appreciate the miracle of life growing inside, and more joyfully accept the way their bodies change over the months. They strengthen their commitment to nurturing themselves, thus enhancing their babies’ wellbeing.
By facilitating weekly meetings in a familiar, relaxing environment, YogaBirth classes provide continuity during both the antenatal and postnatal periods, and a forum to meet other pregnant and new parents. Parents gain great support and learn enormously from each other: sharing information, experiences, feelings and confidence. After each class we chat over tea, and often class members return to introduce their new babies and celebrate their birth experiences. These sessions create a sense of community: we are all part of the family of parents around the world giving birth to 300,000 new lives every day.
Created by Jill Benjoya Miller, Lolly Stirk and Lulu Winfield, June 2009, revised 2020