Lisa, certified prenatal yoga teacher, has provided 5 simple yoga poses that mothers-to-be can practice. Prenatal Yoga is a great way to combat many of the common discomforts that pregnancy can bring such as backache, sciatica, and difficulty sleeping. Prenatal Yoga not only keeps you feeling active and fit during your pregnancy but will also help prepare the mind and body for labor, delivery, and motherhood. Before beginning, here are a few things to consider: Let comfort be your guide. If something doesn’t feel “right”, don’t do it. Keep a keen watch on your breath and allow for it to help you judge the appropriate intensity to take a pose. Steadiness is important. Feel free to adjust your stance wider or use a wall for stability and balance.
1) Cat and Cow Pose:
Begin on all fours with your wrists slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees a little wider than your hips. Spread your fingers and press them firmly into the ground, being sure not to collapse all the weight into the wrists. Tuck your toes under so you feel a stretch in the sole of your foot. Cow Pose: Inhale. Look forward and broaden the collar bones while the bottom of your pelvis arches up toward the ceiling. Cat Pose: Exhale. Gaze towards the navel as you tuck the tail under. Curl the center of your spine up toward the ceiling, stretching like a cat. Move between these two shapes with your breath. Inhale as you open the heart, exhale as you curl the spine up to the ceiling. Synchronize your breath with movement.
Benefits: Brings flexibility and freedom to the back muscles, spine, hips, and shoulders. Takes pressure off the low back and pelvis and encourages the baby to shift into the optimal birth position. This is a safe pose to work on gentle toning the abdominal muscles.
2) Childs Pose, Balasana: From the hands and knees position bring the big toes to touch and reposition the knees wide enough so that there is room for your belly between the thighs. Bring the hips back toward the heels. Stack hands one on top of the other and let your head rest on top of this support. Allow for the hips and head to be heavy. Inhale, let the back body inflate with breath. Exhale, settle more deeply into the pose. Stay 5-15 slow, easy breaths.
Benefits: Calms the mind and eases anxiety. Opens the hips, thighs, and ankles. Lengthens the spine and releases tension from the low back. May assist in alleviating nausea from morning sickness.
3) Half Forward Fold (at the wall ), Ardha Utanasana: To begin, stand facing the wall. Place your hands on the wall so that your finger tips are aligned with the top of your shoulders and your hands are shoulder distance apart. Keep your hands there as you walk your feet back so that your wrists, shoulders, and hips are in one long line. Place your heels directly below your hips. Your body should be making an L shape. To adapt this pose for pregnancy place your feet a little wider than hips distance apart. Be sure that your toes are pointing forward making the feet parallel. Strengthen your legs by drawing the muscles of your thighs upwards. Spend 5-10 breaths here. To come out, look forward to the wall, bend your knees, walk towards the wall, and slowly bring your torso upright. Rest your forehead on the wall till you feel steady.
Benefits: Lengthens hamstrings and spine. Brings better circulation and vibrancy to the pelvis, legs, and ankles. Opens the heart and shoulders. By using the wall for support, a pregnant woman is able to enjoy the benefits of a forward fold without straining the back, constricting the breath, or feeling unsteady.
4) Triangle Pose, Trikonasana: Begin standing. Place your hands on your hips and separate your feet 3 and a half feet apart. Raise your arms up to shoulder level and lift your chest. Turn your left foot slightly to the right and turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right. Exhale and from the hips tip your torso to the right. Place your right hand on your right shin lightly. Reach your left arm to the ceiling directly over your shoulder. If you are feeling steady here, turn your gaze to look up at your left thumb.
Benefits: Tones legs, hips, pelvic floor, back, and abdominal muscles. Alleviates backache. Assists in balancing the digestion system. Brings flexibility to the ankles, hamstrings, hips and spine.
5) Bound Angle Pose, Baddha Konasana: Sit on a cushion or folded blanket. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. Hold the ankles and draw the heels close to the pelvis. Still holding the ankles, stretch the spine upwards as you gently draw the knees towards the floor. If it is difficult to sit up right, place the hands behind you on the floor very close to the hips and try to lengthen the torso in this position.
Benefits: Reduces sciatic pain. Strengthens back. Increases blood flow to abdomen, pelvis, and back. Decreases varicose veins. It is said that if a pregnant woman practices this pose for a few minutes each day she will experience less pain during labor.
Lisa Kazmer is a Certified Prenatal Yoga Teacher and DONA trained Birth Doula. Drawing from years of study and hands-on experience in women’s yoga, prenatal yoga, and birth support Lisa is able to guide students through the journey of pregnancy to help them feel at ease with the excitements, changes, and challenges that this time can bring with it. She has a nurturing quality to her teaching and specializes in adapting the yoga postures to work with any body. Her intention is for students to leave class feeling strong, spacious, tuned in, and grounded in the nature of their body.