Jenna Wolf is an Ayurvedic healer, bodyworker, and intuit from Nashville, Tennessee. She has been immersed in the healing arts for over a decade. She runs an Ayurvedic healing studio in her hometown called, The Lotus Room, where she and her team offer traditional Ayurvedic massage therapies, workshops, sacred ceremony, and Ayurvedic lifestyle guidance.
She is currently expecting her first child this year and is excited to join the circle of motherhood, alongside other women who have gone before her and those that will come after. Becoming a mother is the most exciting thing happening in her life at this time, and she can’t wait to see how this special experience expands her healing vision and practice for the future.
Nyssa spoke with Jenna to learn about Ayurvedic practices and how they can support pregnancy. Fortunately for us, our interview occurred during her pregnancy, so we benefited from both her professional and personal experience.
What is Ayurveda and what is its role in pregnancy?
Ayurveda is best known as traditional Indian medicine. It is the world’s first documented holistic modality and encompasses everything from nutrition, daily routines, bodywork, spirituality, and herbology. Though rooted in Indian tradition and language, it is actually a very intuitive practice that is accessible to people everywhere. At its essence, Ayurveda teaches us how to be in the right relationship with nature and the cycles of life.
And what could be more natural in a woman’s life than bringing a child into the world? While women are made to be and do many amazing things, creating life is truly one of our superpowers. Learning how to honor and support the cycles of gestation and the physical and emotional changes in the body of both mother and child is the primary intention of all Ayurvedic rituals on the prenatal journey
Pregnancy is a great place to introduce the practices of Ayurveda into your life because every ritual and nutrition suggestion during this unique time is to help your body build the foundation for the life growing inside of you. This is not a time of depletion; rather one of augmentation. Thus the focus is on foods, routines, and practices that expand, strengthen and sweeten the experience (which really sets the stage for your life into the later phases of motherhood as well.) Because no matter where you are on the path, good self-care is essential infrastructure to a long and healthy life.
You mentioned you're pregnant; which of the Ayurvedic rituals feel the most rewarding?
Yes, I am! I will be welcoming my first child, a little girl, into the world in less than 8 weeks. I have utilized much Ayurvedic wisdom to help me throughout the journey.
The main ritual that has been most rewarding is releasing shame around certain foods. There is too much of that in this world already! In the very beginning, I consciously released all the narratives around what might have been “good” for me pre-pregnancy and embraced foods that were higher in animal protein, healthy fats, dairy, and even sweets.
I decided that I was going to honor my body and that it knew what to do without me trying to manipulate the process to have a ‘fit pregnancy’ or ‘bounce back after baby.’ I didn’t stop my movement practices and still do yoga and HIIT weekly. But you know what it’s done for me more than anything? It’s brought me great happiness and more enjoyment of food. Which is exactly what you want in any relationship, right
If you could only choose one, what Ayurvedic ritual would you recommend a pregnant person bring into their day-to-day life?
Massaging yourself with organic oil. It is the easiest Ayurvedic ritual there is and it’s accessible to absolutely everyone. Because we know the body, especially the breasts and belly, are expanding at such a rapid rate, the oil helps to lock in natural moisture and assist the growing process while minimizing tears in the skin.
Plus, touching your own body, especially the belly, on a daily basis creates a special bond between you and your unborn child. I swear my daughter knows my touch already and has an active response to when I touch my belly. Fun fact: did you know that touch is the first sense we develop in the womb?
We’ve heard massage during pregnancy can be unsafe. What’s your take?
The idea that receiving a professional massage is not safe for pregnant women is a myth. The myth spread not because of the safety of the mother, but rather the liability of the practitioner.
Since the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are the most sensitive to miscarriage, practitioners do not want to be held liable in the event a mother gets a massage and then miscarries. There is absolutely no scientific proof that massage will cause a miscarriage or harm the baby. However, it is always wise for women to ask their doctor if they are truly concerned, or do have complications, as some pre-existing conditions may be a reason to avoid massage.
In my opinion, massage is the absolute best remedy for those pregnancy aches and pains, ever-changing emotions, sleepless nights, and to help a woman feel good in her own skin. Loving your body is already a journey without being pregnant and then it changes more than you could ever imagine. Touch is so important during this time and no mother should be afraid to get a massage at any point in their pregnancy journey. Hell, I was drinking wine regularly for 5 weeks until I found out I was with child, and she’s just fine. A foot rub surely isn’t going to hurt you or the baby.