Small Blessings Blog

Your body is intelligent: Ina May Gaskin and the Sphincter Law

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Saturday, May 17, 2014

One of my biggest inspirations is the midwife Ina May Gaskin and I have had many of my own experiences and insights confirmed by the things she learned over assisting thousands of births and which she talks about.

I share in my pregnancy classes what Ina May says about the Sphincter Law and what women need instinctively to be able to let the process of birth just happen.

But I'll let the great lady tell you herself:


Here are 2 enjoyable and enlightening You Tube videos of her talking about very important stuff: 


Natures Cocktail and Synthetic Imitations

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Recently in class we have been addressing what is a very important theme for women in thinking about birth. Do you know what the ingredients of the natural hormone cocktail that women's bodies release during birth are?


Firstly, OXYTOCIN. This hormone generates feelings of love, openness, curiousity, empathy and surrender. It's also called the molecule of belonging and is present through human touch and in love making. The same energy that got the baby in there will get the baby out..! Oxytocin brings on the waves of the rushes, surges (or contractions).

With this, comes ENDORPHINS - natural pain killers which help you ride those waves. Also leading to feelings of bliss, joy, even ecstasy... yes, all this is possible during birth.


VASOPRESSIN for courage. There is love present, but it's also capable of being tough love. Birth takes courage and determination, so vasopressin gives you grit.


ADRENALIN. When it comes time to push, after the notorious transition stage where many women freak out for a short time, even if they've been breathing and flowing with it the whole time prior. Adrenalin comes to give you an extra push of energy and enthusiasm, The excitement of knowing you are very soon to meet your baby and just need to give a last concerted effort.


All this is beautifully choreographed by nature and by the super intelligence of your instinctive and intuitive natures. Nature knows what it's doing.


Then there are the synthetic drugs and hormones of labour, which you may well encounter. It pays for you to be aware and informed about your choices regarding these things, because if you birth in a hospital almost definitely they will come up at some point.


First there is SYNTOCINON or synthetic oxytocin. Inductions are commonly done using a syntocinon drip. Under certain conditions this might be necessary and good. However, it is wise to understand how this synthetic version of oxytocin works.

As compared to the natural oxytocin, which comes with its fellow ingredients endorphins and vasopressin to make you open, able to let go and also courageous, riding the waves with natural feel- good hormones, syntocinon rushes generally feel much sharper and more intense. Rather than a wave form the rushes tend to spike to a high level of strong sensation much faster. Most women report this experience, saying simply that the contractions are much more deserving of that name: contraction ie much more painful. Rather than the waves of a rush or surge.


Of course then the likelihood of feeling you need to have an EPIDURAL, which blocks neuro-transmitters in the spine and causes you to feel numb from the waist down, is higher. You will more likely feel you can't cope. Epidural tends to also weaken contractions, leading to the need for a higher dose of syntocinon, which may cause the baby's heart rate to rise and to increase your pain again, leading to the need for a higher dose of pain killer and so on. The two have a relationship with each other of see- sawing upwards. (There is an illuminating documentary about this called The Business of Being Born.)


Also, if you are induced with syntocinon, likely the doctors will want to monitor your baby's heart rate continuously, which will mean you may be restricted to staying still on the bed. In birth, one of THE most important things is to stay mobile and feel that you CAN move in any way your body tells you. You can also much more easily massage and breathe out tension through moving gently around, as well as gravity assisting the descent of your baby much better in an upright position. Psychologically too, you may feel stuck or trapped if you are limited to the bed - again, this is the reverse of what the ancient parts of your brain require for birth - that you feel you are in a safe and supportive environment.


It's good to know and consider too, that any synthetic hormones and drugs are going to block the production of your own hormones, which are dosed exactly right for you. Your body is a remarkably sensitive organism which can continuously measure and balance itself. If you add synthetics into the mix, this process is interrupted and it is up to medical staff to try to determine how much is the right amount. It seems an ungainly and highly inaccurate way of doing what the body itself can do infinitely better.


So a good question would be why use these drugs at all?

There are in my experience a lot of inductions happening, so that it seems almost rare that a woman should naturally go into labour because the baby and she have decided it is time. Induction is sometimes necessary and there can be good medical reasons to induce. However, think carefully and decide for yourself. If you take to heart what I've written above you will want to know that it really is necessary and not for the sake of convenience. It may seem like convenience or "being on the safe side" at the time, but how convenient will that be for you and your baby really, when it comes to it? And how safe is it really? Isn't it better to wait for the ripe apple to just plop into your hand off the tree, because it's ready than to have to twist and yank an unripe apple?


There is much interesting and illuminating information out there on this subject.

I hope this has given you food for thought.

If your ob does say they want to induce, at any time, full term or before or even after, consider this: there is a huge range of "normal", between 38 and 42 weeks, anything is possible. You can always say, thankyou, I'll think about it. Give yourself some time and space to take a step back, relax, breathe, feel your body and baby .. and from there decide. Also talk to someone you trust to present an alternative perspective, so that you can make your conscious choice rather than feeling pressured into something.


And if you DO need to induce, acupuncture with someone experienced is a very successful method. And maybe there is something you need to say or an idea you need to release or a talk you need to have. We are organisms, not machines, and our emotions and mind are not separable from our bodies. Is there something blocking you on that level? Some say, and I would personally concur, birth begins in the heart ie. the heart has to ready to receive the baby, and then the body will follow.


To leave you with a reminder of that hormone cocktail..

O is for Oxytocin, V for vasopressin, E for endorphins... what a shame adrenalin doesn't start with L.. we could have the perfect anagram!!


Roasted almonds in ghee

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, September 11, 2013



This is a very simple, nurturing and delicious thing to eat in the weeks after the birth. The naturally wrinkled skin of the almonds is said to help the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size and shape after birth. It is best eaten BEFORE BREAKFAST. And ideally, prepared and served to you in bed by someone ... (if you have other children, someone with small hands and a big heart? :)


Roasted almonds in ghee is in fact recommended to women generally in Ayurveda, as a food that is nurturing to the female reproductive system. 

10 to 15 almonds
2 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter which is a protein not a fat - look for it at organic or health food shops or Asian food shops. It tastes slightly nutty and can be used in Indian cooking.)
Honey, if you like.

Melt the ghee in a small pan and then add the almonds. Roast them on a relatively low flame for a minute or two. Add a little honey if you like it sweet! Let them cool off a little but eat them still warm. You can follow this up with a cup of yogi tea to nourish your nerves.

Note on the tendency to think "I can´t do that!":

Many of us have trouble letting ourselves be served. Consider that there might be a deep relaxation that comes from letting go of your internal struggle and allowing someone to do this simple thing for you in the morning - a grace and strength in being able to receive in the knowing that you are very valuable just as you are. If you´re already able to do that, excellent. If not, perhaps try it and find out what happens.


Meditation for Intuition and Happiness

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Saturday, August 17, 2013


This is a meditation that was given to Buddha, then Siddhartha, by a great sadhu or saint who found him very weakened and unable to walk after fasting for 40 days. It is said that when Siddhartha could smile again the sadhu gave him this meditation to help nurture him back to health.

Do it when you feel the need to focus and tune into your intuition, to increase the rays of your positive mind. The gentle pull across your chest encourages your heart centre to open and radiate.

Sit in easy pose with an elevated spine. Bend your arms at the elbows, the elbows relaxed against your sides. Extend the index and middle fingers and fold in your ring and pinkie fingers. Hold them down with your thumbs. You might recognise this mudra from depictions of Buddha.

Let your focus gather naturally at your brow point, between your eyebrows and slightly in.

Breathe slowly and consciously and chant silently Sa Ta Na Ma while focussing at the brow point. Project these syllables out from your brow, letting your thoughts be cleared.

Let all thoughts and feelings come and go. Keep returning gently to the focus and the mantra. Keep the hands pulled back gently to maintain the opening across your chest.

Keep going for 6 to 11 minutes.

Breathe in and out deeply 3 times.

Rest in the feeling that follows for as long as you like.


The Ashram is Here

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Sunday, July 14, 2013

"Grist Ashram, Mahan Ahram. Devee Dev Poojde.

This household life is so great, that the angels and divine worship it."

So said Guru Nanak, the originator of what is now Sikhism. He lived from 1469 to 1539.

This household life is so great... Is this what you're thinking when you're reluctantly awake in the middle of the night feeding your baby? Does this course through your mind as you mediate fighting siblings? Or as you exchange weary looks with your partner? I would be lying if I said I always feel that. But I do appreciate the truth in it.

In Kundalini Yoga we don't have a tradition of leaving family and work to go off into a cave or an ashram to find peace Nope. We've got to find it in the midst of all this. In the MIDST of it. Yogi Bhajan, founder of Kundalini Yoga in the West, emphasised that he was giving us technologies to see us through our increasingly busy lives. It's a householders' yoga, which is why it is also so damned effective. We don't have time for it not to be.

Breaking it down, it is Grist Ashram. All this is grist for the mill. So next time you're feeling challenged and some part of you wishes to escape, try breathing in, breathing out, and saying simply .. YES. Yes to it all. Yes. That yes is so noble, so dignified, it will dignify you. It will lift you up and redefine you. In being there for our children, really being there, we need to have a deep YES available. One that can take in everything and hold it. The boon of this of course is that in embracing all we get bigger.

We say you need a strong nervous system to be a parent. You need a strong nervous system to be able to hold all that is going on without cracking, without shaking, without breaking. It's when we break, when we can't hold the situation, that we might end up reacting rather than responding with presence. It's not good, not bad, but it is a reaction conditioned by the past and so we are in that moment not really present.

Good exercises for strengthening the nervous system are Triangle Pose (aka Downward Dog) and all exercises which test the arms. Breathing deeply and slowly, suspending the inhale and the exhale for a bit (but not the exhale when pregnant) also calms both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Grist Ashram, Mahan Ashram. I don't know about you, but it helps me to realise that the struggles, the grist of life, are actually what is making me an interesting person (so I like to believe). When you look back at the end of your life which of your experiences will have had the greatest and most valuable impact on who you are? Mahan means great. This ashram of life is the greatest ashram there is. There is peace at the very heart of it. Peace at the very heart of you, as a woman, as a mother. Always.

"Within us lives the most calm, serene lake of wisdom, the most beautiful, powerful pond of kindness, compassion and clarity. Let us understand and let us dive into it within ourselves." Yogi Bhajan.

Me woman you man.

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Friday, May 17, 2013

Serab Ko Gian - the whole knowledge to be a mother is contained in the very seed of a woman.


Recently I was reading some words from the Master of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan, to whom I am indebted for the gift of Conscious Pregnancy teachings. It might seem weird that a man should speak such words, but this was not just any man, but a man who said that he was a worshipper of the feminine principle and who never ever lost his dignity and nobility in relation to a woman...

He said that a woman has "washna", meaning a very subtle desire in the subconscious mind, to have a cozy, comfortable, safe and secure home. On a more animal level, if you like, a nest. By nature, said Yogi Bhajan, if left to men, we would all be living from a backpack. All cities, all civilisation, all houses come about because of the subconscious desire of women to have cosy homes. Men's desire to serve this in us has huge and very visible results. We each have something the other wants.


In our modern world, prior to becoming a mother we as women might seem to be more same as our men than different, and yet with this turnaround event, big changes occur. It can take some time to adjust! How do you relate to your own motherhood and motherhood in the making? Can you feel the nobility in it? Can you see the dignity in it? And can you see the dignity and nobility in your man in his own role? The more I live in my own family the more I appreciate the value of recognising, accepting and agreeing to the fundamental differences between me and my husband. Life begins to become a dance between polarities, a wonderful and fun and interesting thing, based on an honouring of the differences between us.

"I am just giving you the psychological differences so that you can basically and truthfully understand your role in relationship with the role of a male. These roles are not the same at all. If it were left to men, you all would be living with a backpack. To have a home, to have protection, to have security, save some money, save some food, all this paraphernalia is the invention of a woman’s subconscious mind. Therefore, it is very correct when they say woman is the axle of human society."

Words from the Master.

40 Days Blessing

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, May 08, 2013

In many cultures around the world, there is a tradition of recognizing the first roughly 6 weeks after birth as a time of sanctity and importance. The mother is given support to grow into her new role as nurturer of another being, now on the outside, as well as begin to recover from the great physical feat she has just performed (birth and pregnancy) although establishing a whole new balance and strength can take a fair bit longer. The baby is given a soft, safe space to find its own metaphorical feet, with all its physical systems now having to function independently, its nervous system forming and firming, not to mention the astounding fact of simply being alive on this big planet, connected with others, needing to feel safe and loved and held.


In Kundalini Yoga humanology it is said that in the first 3 days of a baby´s life, he or she learns love and in the first 40 days, a sense of belonging. To this mother, this father, this family and this Earth.


I was very struck, years ago, reading The Forest People by Colin Turnbull, describing how these tribes structures their village life. First comes the womb of the mother, then the expanded circle of the family tent for the first approximately 40 days, and then the further expanded circle of the whole tribe, whose tents are positioned to form a very big circle. And beyond that, out into the the wider circle of the world, always to return… So the person, as they grow, moves into ever-expanding circles, but always held and in a sense of belonging. These are a simple but profoundly happy, secure people.


Our world is clearly not like this, but if we take this principle we might look into finding ways to come closer to creating a space which holds both us as emerging mothers and our babies until we are ready to move out into the world, feeling strong and secure.


Every woman must surely follow her own feeling and possibilities, but consider keeping things very quiet in the first weeks. Some women find it a relief to limit visitors, or at least have visitors who they feel bring in a nurturing presence. The father can be very helpful here, diplomatically arranging visits in the interests of holding a protected space for you and the baby. We say the father is the aura of the family, the protective filter. Sometimes limiting visitors might cause a kind of social tension, but the question is then – what is more important right now? Keeping everyone else happy or making the best of this one-off opportunity to lay the foundations for a secure and happy life together?


Also, the teachings of Kundalini Yoga hold that the baby is contained within the mother's energetic bodies for the first 3 years of life, as the child progressively develops their own and becomes a whole total independent person. In the first 40 days therefore we suggest staying in the same room as your baby as much as you can. This would mean having your baby sleep in the same room as you. This is also helpful as you hear your baby's noises throughout the night, getting to know them and your baby's rhythms. You are there to respond readily so your baby feels safe and secure and that positive attachment between you can develop. This security forms the foundations for the child's sense of inner security throughout its life.


As a new mother, we say, your one main task is to look after your baby. If possible, let yourself be cooked for – nurturing, strengthening, wholesome food. Some women organise a roster within their circle of friends and family - having a meal delivered to you once a day can be of immense relief and emotional as well as physical nourishment. If possible, you could even let someone take over cleaning and washing or even let things go for a while. In our tradition, the person who comes to look after the mother is called Sevadar, or one who serves, and it should be a woman. The key word in this time is REST. REST, REST, REST! From personal experience, if you can truly take time to rest in those first weeks the energy will be there for life beyond. So rest, even more than you might feel is necessary. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Let yourself be looked after as much as you can. Get a massage! 


My invitation is to think of this time as you being like a queen. You certainly have performed an act of creation which required a lot from you on all levels (and will continue to). Let things come to you and let yourself be served. The time will come soon enough for you to step out and take up your new role in the world, walking tall, feeling good, with your secure, well-nurtured, happy baby.


See also Ayurvedic recipes for the 40 days.

Yogi Tea strengthens your nerves and is really delicious.

Practicing Yoga at home

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Click here for the Kundalini Yoga mantras for opening and closing a session, as well as a few tips about practicing at home.

This page will soon provide you with all you need to create your own practice at home, including yoga sets and exercises (hopefully in video format!).

It is a very good thing to come to class regularly. Even better is to take that home with you and find your own rhythm of yoga at home. A few exercises, some conscious breathing, a little meditation here and there... all absolute gold. Gold for you yes, but also for your baby. Your baby will still be living off the profits of this time you spend all the way through her/his life. Time well invested.. :)

Or if your baby is born already.. well, the same can be said. In this Kundalini Yoga tradition we say that mother and baby are one in very significant ways until the baby is aged 3. So our state is their state. Also, just because you are now a mother doesn´t mean you have ceased to be you. You, a woman, are still here! So look after yourself first and all else will follow!

Feedback and questions are welcome, via email.

Eyes Wide Open into Birth

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It is said in Kundalini Yoga humanology that in the first 3 days of a baby´s life, he or she learns love. The hormone that governs the uterine surges or rushes (or contractions), oxytocin, is the same hormone present in orgasm. It is a melting, heart-opening love hormone. Just following birth, this hormone is at its highest levels, which is nature´s way of bringing about the falling in love with your baby feeling, creating a deep bond between you which will ensure the baby´s continued health and well-being. The baby is experiencing the effects of oxytocin too and, interestingly, also the father, if he is present.


These moments can´t truly be described until you´ve experienced them for yourself. The best thing is to hold your baby against your skin, ideally skin to skin, so that your baby has the smallest possible move from the warm cozy environment of your womb on its journey out into the world. He or she can then hear your heartbeat and smell you, maybe even look into your eyes. Finally, your baby in your arms! And your baby falls in love with you too!


If you take all this into consideration when thinking about your choices for the birth, it will have an influence. There are times when anaesthetic of some kind during birth, mostly epidural, can be just the thing to help the mother through or in the case of emergency caesarian of course, totally necessary. However, it is good to be aware that an epidural numbs not only the body but also the mind and emotions and may effect your sense of being present and feeling, of falling in love. This is not to say that it is not then possible, but epidural will certainly have an effect on this level.


Also, it is often the case that an epidural slows the action of the uterine surges and so pitocin, or synthetic oxytocin, is given to increase the strength of the surges again. Surges under the influence of pitocin are more painful than natural ones, and some women go into overreaction so that it can happen that there is no or hardly any gap between surges any more. This in turn necessitates the use of increased anaesthetic, then possibly higher pitocin and so on. Under these circumstances, oxytocin is blocked and the natural endorphins do not flow. In this way, many hospital births turn into caesarians, not through any inadequacy of the women herself, but sometimes due to the procedures of hospitals and the misinformation or lack of information available to women.


If after the birth the baby is removed from the mother, the whole experience can be very disempowering and result in the loss of the special oxytocin-fuelled falling in love experience. A medical assessment of "post-natal depression" does not take into account the deep consummation that the experience of birth is for a woman and the grief that she might naturally feel after a disempowering or fundamentally incomplete experience. Interestingly, women do not even have to consciously know exactly what they have missed to know that they have indeed missed something very deep and fundamental and to feel grief, sadness and depression afterwards.


Birth happens in so many ways and each birth is truly unique so this is not to say that there is one ideal way, but it is nonetheless very good to inform yourself before the event and go into the experience with your eyes open. In the end, perfect is an illusion and things are in fact perfect just as they are, however they are, as this baby chose YOU, but women who feel they made conscious choices with eyes open and also had the means to assert their choices in the process feel extremely empowered by birth, their sense of identity and their own potential expanded in a very positive sense.

Ayurvedic recipes for after birth

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The following are special recipes to help you heal and recover strength in the days and weeks following birth.

Ask a friend or your partner to prepare the following dish for you when the baby comes and bring it to you during these very precious first few days.

Childbirth Subjee

This recipe is to be eaten only in the first few days after birth, before the milk proper comes in (after that the onions may upset your baby´s sensitive digestion). It works to repair the uterus and regenerate the nervous system. It also cleanses the body to prepare for milk production.


Take one cup of ginger root and chop it medium fine. Saute this in Ghee (clarified butter) until lightly brown. Add 1 Tbsn turmeric and stir to prevent burning. Add 2 medium chopped onions. Add a few Tbspn water. Cook well.

Add 2 cups yoghurt and simmer about 30 minutes.

You can add 1 Tspn chickpea or other flour to make it thicker. Halve the quantity of flour if using wheat flour.


Eat once a day with rice and yoghurt for the first few days.




You can have this nursing drink prepared for you in larger quantities kept in the fridge to take as you wish.

Special Nursing Drink

To improve the quality of your milk. If you don´t drink cow’s milk, use oat or rice milk.

1 cup of milk

8 - 10 blanched almonds (soaked and peeled)

2 Tbspn ghee (clarified butter)

1 – 2 tspn honey


Blend well. You can warm this drink up to make it even more nurturing, but then add the honey afterwards. Heated honey may release toxins.


Yoga for Better Milk

The exercise "Washing Machine" is also excellent for keeping the many glands that feed into your breasts massaged and free of blockages and the quality of your milk good. It also improves your posture and can relieve shoulder and neck tension.

Sit cross-legged on your bed if it is firm enough or on the floor, with your hands lightly grasping your shoulders, fingers in front, thumbs behind, and your elbows pointing straight out to the side. Experience the opening spread across your chest as well as across your upper back.

Staying tall in your spine, inhale and twist your whole upper body and head to the left. Exhale swing back to the right.

Start at a moderate pace and keep your eyes open. Breathe fully and deeply. Increase the speed and dynamic as you become comfortable with the movement. Close your eyes then, and bring your focus to rest at the brow point, between your eyebrows and a little way in. This is for stimulation of the pituitary and intuition as well as mental stillness and peace.

Continue for 1 to 3 minutes.



The recipes on this page are from the Ayurvedic tradition which has a close connection to Kundalini Yoga though its founder in the West, Yogi Bhajan. The exercise given is also from the tradition of Kundalini Yoga.

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