Welcome to Mama Bōdhi, a blog series where we chat with the most inspiring mamas about the extraordinarily transformative experience of motherhood. This week, we talked with our friend Melissa Paulo, a yoga instructor, sound healing practitioner, actress, and founder of Soul Space Co. A soon-to-be mama, Melissa lets us in on the evolution of her yoga practice, deepening her relationships through pregnancy, and always remembering to treat herself.
IMBŌDHI: How has your relationship with your body evolved during pregnancy?
Melissa: I am used to being very physically active & capable. Being pregnant I have had to learn to recognize and honor what my limitations are. Everyday it feels like I’m waking up with a new ache as my body changes - I have had spd pretty bad and any little wrong movement can cause pain. It’s been a reminder to slow down and take it easy - that I am creating an actual life within!
As a yoga teacher, my initial plan was to teach until I gave birth. In the middle of an infrared heated class last week, an inner voice just told me to STOP, and at the end of that class I announced that it was my last session until further notice. It was very humbling and empowering at the same time - to give myself permission to say no more.
IMBŌDHI: How have your self-care practices changed or expanded since becoming pregnant?
Melissa: It’s been important during this process to remember I am going through a really big change and to let go of the idealistic vision of what I thought pregnancy would be like - as it has been far from predictable. I’ve made sure to eat healthy but also indulge in what I'm craving. To stay active but also allow myself to rest. Prenatal massage has been a life saver! And making sure as I prepare for the baby, to know it's okay to still treat myself to nice things too. Soft, comfy, functional clothing that still makes me feel beautiful has been key - IMBŌDHI jumpers have been a lifesaver!
IMBŌDHI: In what ways have practices like reiki and sound healing guided you through your pregnancy?
Melissa: When I first found out I was pregnant, a plethora of emotions washed over me. Having a baby was something I knew I wanted my whole life, but when it actually happened I suddenly felt unsure if I was ready now. A dear friend and reiki healer held space for me and in that session, I had a moment of immense clarity that this was indeed divine and absolutely perfect timing. As a reiki and sound bath facilitator myself, I have noticed extra powerful energy supporting my sessions, and I felt the baby kick for the first while playing my crystal sound bowls! I think he loves it - or hates it! Either way, I know the frequencies are having a positive effect.
IMBŌDHI: Are there any unexpected blessings that have come with pregnancy?
Melissa: I think the greatest unexpected blessing has been the deepening of relationships in my life, with my partner, with my family and especially with long time friends that are already mothers. I feel like I am finally a part of the “secret society of mamas” joining the generations of women before me who have done this — the strength of the collective, the tribal support — helps me get through the more difficult days.
IMBŌDHI: What traditional/conventional advice about pregnancy are you leaving behind? What lessons from pregnancy do you think you’ll take with you into motherhood?
Melissa: The answer for these questions is the same. “You don’t know until you know,” so “Let it go.” You can plan all you want, and it’s important to do so - but you have to keep room for the unpredictable!
Also: enjoy it! These moments, especially the experience of first time pregnancy/first child, only happen once. And time goes by so much faster than you realize. I feel like it was just yesterday I got a positive on my pregnancy test and in a flash I’m in my 3rd trimester. Trust the process, trust that all will be well, and allow yourself the luxury of complete and total presence on the journey into motherhood.
Thanks for dropping in and getting a little vulnerable with us! And a huge thank you to Melissa for sharing her mama journey with us — we learned so much! We encourage you to follow her here to learn more about her wellness practices. Stay tuned for the next chapter of Mama Bōdhi!