Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tips For Saying the Long Obligatory Prayer While Pregnant

A few days ago I mentioned some benefits to saying the long obligatory prayer while pregnant. The only thing is, as your belly gets bigger and bigger the movements that go with the prayer get more and more challenging. Today I'm going to offer some tips on how to work with a changing body to keep this prayer a viable option for childbearing women.

1. Getting Your Forehead to the Ground

The first, and most challenging, pose we encounter is when the instructions with the prayer say, "Let him then kneel, and bowing his forehead to the ground..." Normally when people do this their knees are together and they just kind of fold forward till their head touches the ground.

This is what I look like doing it at the beginning of the third trimester.

Technically I can still pull it off but it has taken a slight modification. Normally my hips would be lower down, either on my heels or just above them. To accommodate my belly in this photo I've had to lift my hips higher and leave more space between my knees and my chest. While it kind of works, it's still pretty uncomfortable.

Another option, that has become more preferable lately, is to adjust the position my knees. Instead of kneeling like this ...

 ... try leaving a gap of a few inches.

Leaving a gap between the knees leaves room for the belly to fit when you lower your head to the floor.
 As an added bonus, this modification also allows for the lower back muscles to be stretched out.

2. Sitting

Two portions of this prayer are to be said in a seated position. Since both occur right after a section said in the forward kneeling position described above, I have a tendency to just sit up again and sit on my heels.

So far this still works for me. However, lots of other women have more trouble than I do when it comes to swollen feet and joint pain. Since we aren't given specific instructions on how to sit (the notes with the prayer just say that the one saying the prayer should "seat himself"), this might be another spot for a modification. If sitting on your feet is causing pain or discomfort you might want to consider switching to sitting cross-legged for the time being.


3. Getting Up Again

This prayer requires a lot of getting up and down. In pregnancy our centre of gravity changes, and we often feel less steady, so we need to be careful to move in a way that provides stability. Here are some options to help keep your balance when rising back into a standing position after being on the floor .

Step 1: Shift your weight onto one hip and bring your feet to one side.

Step 2: Rise up onto one knee while planting your other foot firmly on the floor. Support yourself with your hands. If you feel unsteady stay in this position and make adjustments until you feel stable again.

Step 3:  Put your weight on the other foot and move into a standing position.

4. Preventing Dizziness

One area of caution with this prayer is changes to blood pressure that can occur when moving from position to position. Sudden changes can cause severe dizziness, even if you were fine doing the same thing the day before. You can reduce the severity by moving slowly when changing position and taking a few deep breaths before going onto the next section of the prayer. You might also want to consider staying close to a chair, bed, or other piece of furniture that you can hold onto for support while getting up and down. If that doesn't work consider switching to the short obligatory prayer for a while.

While some dizziness and light-headedness is normal, it should go away after sitting in an upright position for a few minutes. If it lasts for a prolonged period of time and is accompanied by sudden swelling, visual disturbances, headache, or difficulty breathing, and those symptoms also do not go away after returning to an upright position, consider contacting your health care provider. That combination of symptoms can be a sign of preeclampsia, a medical condition that is unrelated to saying the prayer. If this happens to you, it is likely that these symptoms were starting anyway and that you just happened to be paying more attention to them while praying.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I enjoyed this post! And I felt great sympathy for the plight of someone pregnant trying to prostrate, even though it's been a good 10 years since I had this problem. I've often thought of the Long Obligatory Prayer as a form of Baha'i yoga. There have been times when my back was seizing up when performing that prayer gave me just the stretch I needed. Plus the more important spiritual aspect of course! Anyway, greetings and best wishes!