Pregnancy is a beautiful thing to cherish and a time to honor your baby, body, heart, and mind. There are tons of emotions that come with being pregnant, and changes going on in the mind, body, and soul. In the midst of all these emotions and changes, it’s important to remain connected to the joy and beauty of what is happening, and not get caught up in fear of birthing or body image judgements. And, to also take care of yourself and your little loved one. One way to embrace your pregnancy and feel liberated in your body is to do Prenatal Yoga. As a teacher of Prenatal Yoga, and through my own experience of being pregnant, I know how hard it can be to carry a child, and how hard it is on the body. Your body is changing every day, growing and expanding and creating another human being. This is a great way to create a peace of mind and space in the body. Your mind is fragile and in mother mode, ready to protect and love your child in every thought that passes by. Create a routine that allows you to connect to your body, to loving your body, and most important connect to your child during this time.
I get asked a lot in my classes, “What should I be doing daily to help my body and mind with everything going on while pregnant?” Well here it is, my TOP 6 MOST BENEFICIAL YOGA POSES THAT YOU CAN DO EVERY DAY TO KEEP YOU STRONG, THAT WILL HEAL YOUR ACHING CHANGING BODY, AND PREPARE YOUR BODY AND MIND FOR LABOR. THIS IS A WELL BALANCED ROUTINE THAT ADDRESSES ALL AREAS OF CARING FOR YOU AND YOUR CHILD. It only takes 20 minutes of your time and can be done at anytime of the day. So unroll your mat and let’s get started.
One of the greatest birthing guru’s or our time is Mr. Bradley, Founder of the Bradley Method, suggests you do 80 of these bad boys a day. Yes, 80. It works with improving circulation in the body from head to toe, literally. It opens the chest, strengthens the spine, and helps get the water and blood flow moving in your hands, feet, hips, and belly. TO DO: Come to all fours on your mat, shoulders over the writs, knees under your hips, and since your pregnant, you will want your legs to be a little more than hips width apart, creating space for your belly and opening hips. On your INHALE, Going into Cow Pose: Look up opening the chest, pressing into all 10 fingertips, lowering your belly while tilting the hips down and lifting your tail bone to the sky, and with your toes tucked under. On your EXHALE, Move into Cat Pose: Bringing your chin into your chest, lifting the back of your heart up into the shoulder blades, into a deep cat back, with the sit bones tilted down lengthening the lower back, while keeping your shoulders over your wrists and at the same time begin to flatten the tops of your feet, pressing your toes and your shins into the mat. Keep this going, incorporating your feet into the pose to help the circulation of your swollen feet. REPEAT: Do 20 in the morning, 20 in the early afternoon just before lunch, perhaps another 20 after lunch and 20 before bedtime to give you the 80 recommended by the Bradley Method. You can also use this hand variation, show in picture below, with the wrists facing forward to improve circulation in your hands and strengthen wrists, in prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if you find yourself typing on a computer all day.
As your baby grows larger, your little one begins to expand up into the spaces that you need to breathe, your lungs. You may find your breaths getting shorter and towards the end of 3rd trimester, you may notice having difficulty breathing in general. This chest opener, shown is the top left corner of picture, is your go to pose for when you need to find your deepest breath. It also tones and strengthens the chest, arms and shoulders and enriches the blood and oxygen flow to your heart and lungs. TO DO: Come to your knees onto your mat. (You can always place a rolled up blanket or roll up the middle or your mat to provide for cushion support for you knees.) Sitting up tall, toes curled under, swim your hand behind your back and interlace your fingers.INHALE: Look up, lifting thru your chin and chest, really opening the chest and lung space. EXHALE: Keep fingers interlaced and look down, chin into your chest, relaxing the shoulders. REPEAT: Do 5-10 times. This is also great exercise for your thyroid and throat Chakra, since the neck is opening and closing, and deeply through your breath, helping with boosting your metabolism and nourishing this chakra, the house of speaking truth, love, and compassion.
It’s not just your hips, chest, and belly that will be birthing this baby. It’s your inner and out thighs. Toning and strengthening these areas will help when it comes to giving a natural birth. Even if you are not able to birth naturally, that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Having strong legs will also help in post recovery for C-section, getting you back on your feet in no time, without having to rely on your core, since that will take months to recover. TO DO: Stand on you mat in a wide legged stance. So wide that when you bend your legs, your knees do not go past your ankles. We want to line this up, knee to ankle. Get real grounded in your feet and in your breath. Begin to lower your pelvic to where your thighs are parallel to the earth. In your upper body, hold your arms out and bend the elbows, igniting a ton of energy in your hands. Doing this will also tone your upper body. Be mindful of your lower back. Make sure you’re not doing too deep of a sway back. Lengthen your lower back by tilting your tail bone down and lifting your hips in the front. BREATHE: Take 10-20 deep breaths in this pose. Breathe past that point of fear and discomfort. This will train your mind to breathe into that same mindset when it comes time to give birth. If there is any pain, come out of the pose and perhaps consult your doctor.
This pose is great for stretching the T-Ban area on your outer legs and works up to the side of your body all the way up the belly, lungs, chest and arms.TO DO: Come long ways on your mat, onto your knees. Take one leg and stretch it out. Place the same arm on that side and raise it up, with the opposite arm on your hip. INHALE: Reach over in the opposite direction, really pressing in to your pinky toe to elongate the stretch. Rotate your hear up. Draw the shoulder blade down, protecting your shoulders and allowing to not crowd your ears. Rotate your pinky finger down to deepen the stretch in the arm.EXHALE: Lengthen deeper into the pose. BREATHE: Take 5-10 breaths on ones side and then do the same on the other side.
Yes, I said pushups. But this is a modified version of a push up. Eight-point pose is how the modification to building up strength to do Chataranga. This pose is great for keeping your upper strong and toned, preparing your upper body and arms to eventually be holding that little baby of yours. It will also help open and tone the chest for when your milk comes in. TO DO: Come into Neutral Table, onto all fours. Knees just past hip distance. Bring your gaze forward. Take a bid inhale and then EXHALE: Draw your shoulder blades together, working the elbows into your side body, and begin to lower your chest, in the direction of your chin meeting your mat. Now your chin does not have to go all the way down, just lower to your comfort level. On your INHALE:push into the earth and come back up to table top. REPEAT: Do this 5-10 times. Shown in picture, I used a hand variation, called “Tiger clawing” to also help with improving circulation to the hands. This variation is optional. Try it first with your palms grounded and work your way up to this variation.
Squatting is great regardless if you are pregnant or not. It is just overall a good thing to do. Especially if you find yourself sitting for long periods of time or at a desk all day, hunching over a keyboard. This is one of the most beneficial poses you can do. TO DO: Come to a semi-wide legged stance, about mat width apart, heals in, toes out. While keeping the heals grounded, work your way into squat. Bring your palms together and have your elbow at knee level, encouraging the knees and hips to open. Wiggle your way into a cozy place into this pose. If you are in 3rd Trimester, use the support of a wall behind you and come to seated on a cushion or block. BREATHE: Find zen in this pose. Relax your face, shoulders, thighs and bum. This will also help train your mind for labor. Take 5-10 deep breaths into the pose, keeping your spine long, heals grounded, and for extra credit, sit more into your heals by lifting all your toes. Here’s a lovely little article to validate the importance of squatting.
Finally, between each pose, rest. Come to seated with your hands on your heart or on your belly or one on each, and just breathe. Connect to the energy in your body. Check in with baby and send your loving, nourishing breath down to the womb space, to your heart space, and to your mind space with a soft inner focus. Take a couple good deep breaths in and out before moving on to the next pose. Breath into the benefits of these poses, into strength, into compassion, into feeling like the Earth Goddess that you are.
Many blessings to you and your baby on this journey of pregnancy.
Prenatal Yoga is offered every Tuesday from 6-7:15pm
“It’s not very often and shortly lived that we are blessed with having more than one heart”–Dori