Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy is hard work and yet equally amazing. You are creating a human inside of you. I adored being pregnant, yet I know that isn't the same for every woman. Pregnancy comes with a lot of changes. You are tired. Your body starts to become unfamiliar. Your feet start to swell. You have to wake up to pee every night. With all the not so lovely parts of pregnancy, there are the parts that leave you without words. The moment you hear the heartbeat, and know, even thought it's not visible yet, that you created life. The first time you feel that flutter, and you're not quite sure if it was a kick, but then you feel it again and again. It's how you start to know your baby before you even really know them. It's the connection.
That is one of the beautiful things that yoga can do for you through your pregnancy. It is a time where you get to move your body and connect with your baby. I swear that yoga had a huge influence on my pregnancy. I felt good the whole way through. It kept me fit and prepared me for childbirth. Use this sequence to help build strength and connect with your unborn baby.
1. Supported Hero Pose
Using a block for support (or a stack of books if you don't have a block), sit upright allowing the shoulders to drop away from the ears. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Start by just noticing the breath. Repeat one of the following affirmations: My baby and I are one. I choose to be healthy and vibrant. I am connected. I trust my body.
2. Cat and Cow Tilts
Start by coming to all fours. Stack your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and knees underneath the hips. On your inhale, drop your belly towards the ground looking up to the sky. On your exhale, begin to round your back pushing up through your upper thoracic spine.
3. Child's Pose
Bring your toes together and your knees to the outside edges of your mat. This creates space for your growing belly. Sink your hips back and breathe. Use this pose during any yoga class as a way to come back to your breath and rest if needed.
4. Downward-Facing Dog
From all fours spread your hands pressing evenly into the palms. Start to curl your toes and lift your hips up and back. If you feel tight in the hamstrings, bring a gentle bend to your legs. This pose is beneficial in pregnancy, especially if baby is breached, as it gives baby some room.
5. Goddess Squat
Start with feet a little wider than hip-width apart and feet at a 45 degree angle. Sink the hips down and use the elbows to increase the stretch. Modify this pose by sitting on a block. This pose is wonderful for pregnancy as it relieves lower back pain, opens up the hips, and starts to prepare the body for childbirth.
6. Forward Fold
Roll up from goddess squat keeping the feet a little wider than than the hips and fold forward. Keep a generous bend in the legs and let your head be heavy.
6. Warrior II
From standing, step your right foot back 4 - 4 1/2 feet apart. Start to bend the front leg working towards 90 degrees. Settle into the pose and release any tension in the shoulders. Reach through each hand and gaze past your front hand. Come back to your affirmation and remember, you are a warrior. Repeat on the other side
7. Tree Pose
From mountain pose start to shift your weight into your right foot. Bring your left foot onto your ankle, calf, or thigh staying away from your knee. Find a focus point or drishti. Engage your core as you reach your arms up. This pose can be challenging as your belly grows, but you can do it!
8. Bridge Pose
Place the soles of your feet on the ground and walk your heels towards your sit bones. Keeping your legs parallel, lift your hips towards the sky. An option is to use a block underneath your sacrum (like in the picture) and come into supported bridge. This pose helps to ease back pain, which can be common in pregnancy.
9. Supported Bound-Angle Pose
Place a bolster along your back (if you don't have a bolster, use a few pillows) to support you. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees come out the side. If this is too much for your hips, place a block under each knee. Close your eyes and place your hands on your belly. Repeat the affirmation you did at the beginning.
This is perhaps the most important pose of all. Our bodies are doing SO much work during pregnancy, and it is so important to give ourselves time to sloooooooow down. Roll over onto your left side and place a bolster between your legs. With your eyes closed, bring your focus onto your breath and work to let go of all the chatter that finds its way into our minds. Give yourself this time to rest.
Labor Relaxation Tip:
**Disclosure - labor is not relaxing. Our bodies are running a full marathon as we prepare to bring this sweet life into the world, but if we can use some of these practices, we can get through it a little bit easier, and remember, we can do hard things.
Use a relaxing essential oil blend throughout your pregnancy. Put a drop or two on your feet before your practice. Take that oil with you when you go into labor to help you relax and remind yourself to breathe. My favorites: Lavender, Stress Away, Peace & Calming.
Use a relaxing playlist during your practice and take that music with you when you go into labor. Sign up below for a FREE playlist.