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Tai Chi During Pregnancy

“Spread your wings, soar like an eagle, feel that sense of freedom, claim your own power.” These inspiring words are taken from the Dance of the Five Elements which is a moving meditation used as a “closing breath” at the conclusion of all my Tai Chi classes and videos. These phrases are especially relevant to pregnant women because the ability to relax and “glide” through pregnancy and labor, while owning your power, is key to creating a rewarding birth experience.

Pregnancy is a time when we need to stay healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. The smooth, gentle movements of Tai Chi, a slow-motion martial art form, address all three of these areas. It is interesting that the descriptive words we use while practicing Tai Chi, i.e., soften, release, melt, open, let go, blend, fall away, make room, make more space, flow with it, are the same words often used during labor.

Another theme found in Tai Chi as well as birthing is “yield and be strong.” This simply means our strength lies in not fighting against things. During labor especially, to fight against each contraction will wear down your energy quickly, whereas visualizing each contraction as an “expansion” of not only the breath, but literally the body, realizing that the body is doing exactly what it needs to do to get the baby out, can help things move along much smoother. Similarly, in life when we back off and relax into the flow, simply breathing through the trials (contractions), while affirming all things are working for our highest good, we experience an expansion of our strength.

I love being pregnant, and as a mother of five children I know the ups and downs that pregnancy can bring. This is a powerful time in a woman’s life, and playing such an active role in the miracle of birth is truly an honor. Although my last pregnancy was very planned, it was also much different from my previous ones. I was approaching my 40th birthday and I hadn’t had a baby for nearly eight years. I embraced those facts. However, I was very sick, to a degree I had not experienced before. To take my mind off the nausea, I would lie in bed and listen to meditation tapes. Other times I would sit on the edge of my bed and do the Qigong breathing and the Tai Chi movements.

This routine helped me so much, it got me thinking how great it would be if there were a video of these things so I wouldn’t feel so isolated doing my exercises alone every day. Well, there wasn’t one on the market…yet. I believe everything happens for a reason, and part of my reason for being so sick was to be open to the inspiration to make these exercises available to other women. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to yield to the sickness and learn to flow with it, seeing now how it has become a strength to me to be able to help other women. You see, as the Dance of the Five Elements goes on to say, “Remember, we can’t control the windsScience Articles, but we can always adjust our wings.”

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Carolyn Cooper is a certified fitness professional and Energy Intuitive. She is also founder of Tai Chi Flow, Inc., which has produced a series of videos (  Cooper publishes an e-newsletter called “Living in the Flow” and was a contributing author of the book 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health.

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