Pregnancy Literature Review

inner beauty

 Inner Beauty Inner Light

– Yoga for Pregnant Women –

Frederick Leboyer

Inner Beauty, Inner Light was the first pregnancy book I ever bought when I became pregnant with my first daughter Indigo, ten years ago. Having stumbled upon it, I was thrilled to find two men I hold in such high esteem, from different areas of expertise, coming together in the name of birth.  Frederick Leboyer being the well known obstetrician and author of the world changing book Birth without Violence uniting with BKS Iyengar one of the foremost yoga teachers of this century. Sadly both men have passed away over the last few years but they have left behind them such a prodigious body of knowledge that has benefited thousands all over the world in the fields of birth, yoga and health.

Inner Beauty, Inner Light documents Iyengar’s daughter, Vanita, who was 39 weeks pregnant, practicing yoga.  There is an ethereal like quality to this book, not only in the black and white photos taken by Leboyer himself but in the poetic like “conversation” with the imagined reader.

I don’t see this book as a “how to” of pregnancy yoga but more an inspirational journey in the ability and beauty of the pregnant body. In our current world there is so much fear around what is safe to do physically during pregnancy. While not recommending the average woman attempts all these poses (Vanita is an advanced yogini), I felt a lightness in seeing Vanita’s faith in her own body to move through her long established practice.

The first asana, following a beautiful introduction by Iyengar himself, is sirsana head stand.  “Sirsana? In pregnancy?” I hear you say! A posture that is only to be practiced while pregnant by the most experienced of yoginis. Yet the nature in which Leboyer explains Vanita’s movement into the pose makes it seem such a natural movement of the pregnant body.  He goes on to explain in detail the movement into and out of a sequence of yoga asana and breathing techniques that are suitable to practice during pregnancy for all women (although I would also avoid the supported shoulderstand and plough unless an advanced practitioner).

Leboyer’s discussion toward the end of the book on fear around childbirth and the ability to let go and surrender is as equally fitting to our present age as it was in the 1975 when it was published.

If you’d like to be inspired while pregnant (especially if you’re feeling heavy), you’d like to be reminded of the natural ability of the body while pregnant or the benefits of yoga for pregnancy and childbirth – Inner Beauty, Inner Light offers a sense of freedom, joy, warmth and love for the pregnant woman.


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