Yoga is a safe, empowering and relaxing way to prepare for labour and birth. It can help releive the aches and pains associated with changing pregnancy posture, build strength and stamina and maintain a healthy range of motion for the spine, hips and shoulders. The practice of yoga focuses on breath awareness paired with thoughtful movement of the body through poses or ‘asanas’. In this way yoga perfectly compliments preparation for birth and caring for a new baby. If your first trimester involved queasiness, nausea or dizziness it may have been difficult to exercise at all let alone start a yoga program. It is best to wait until these conditions subside before you begin your prenatal yoga journey. It is also very important to get your physician’s consent before starting any exercise program when you are pregnant. The following sequence is a gentle prenatal yoga practice that can be done safely throughout pregnancy. Always listen to your body and do what feels right for you! Namaste Mamma’s!
OPENING MEDITATION: Sit on a folded blanket or meditation cushion. Root through your pelvis and lengthen your spine, drawing your shoulders down and back. Bring one hand to your heart and the other to your baby. Start to breathe in and out through your nose (if nasal passages are not clear you can breathe through your mouth). Draw the breath in and down to where baby is feeling your belly expand three dimentionally. Imagine you could deliver oxygen and prana (vitality, the life force) right to your baby with your breath. Continue this for up to five minutes and then sit quietly for a moment.
COW/CAT & PELVIC ROCKING: Make your way onto all fours in table top position. Place a blanket under the knees if they are sensitive (you can also come to fists is wrists are sore). As you inhale, gently lower your belly towards the floor (spinal extension) tilting your pelvis so your tailbone lifts up as you gaze forward. Be mindful not to over arch the low back especially as baby grows. As you exhale press into your hands, tuck your tailbone under and round out through your spine (spinal flexion). Repeat for 10 breaths. This pelvic rocking action increases mobility in the low back and pelvis and can help releive low back pain during pregnancy. Always move mindfully and gently in a range of motion that feels good for you and your stage of pregnancy!
TAIL WAG: Return to the table top position. Imagine you have a long lizard tail and start to wag it from side to side. As you wag it to the left, press into your right palm and gaze over your left shoulder to look at your imaginary tail. Feel a light stretch in the right side body. As you wag your tail to the right, press into your left palm and gaze over your right shoulder to look at your imaginary tail. Feel a light stretch in the left side body. Continue to sway the hips side to side 10 – 20 times. This action creates space between the pelvis and ribs for baby and increases pelvic and low back mobility. It is great for releiving low back pain even during labour!
SUPPORTED SQUATTING POSE: Step the feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart and squat down with the support of a bolster, blankets or cushions under the pelvis. Make sure you have enough support that the knees, hips, ankles and belly are comfortable. You will feel a stretch in the hips, inner thighs and groins. Opening the muscles that surround the hip joint is an excellent preparation for labour! Bring hands to prayer and let elbows gently apply pressure to help open inner thighs a bit more. Hold for 5 – 10 breaths. The squat can be used with breathing exericses to bring awareness to the pelvic floor and birthing muscles. This pose is also a natural birthing position! (If you have symphysis pubis pain or hemorrhoids you might want more support for your squat ie. more bolsters, blankets, cushions and do not squat down as low!)
HIP OPENER WITH A TWIST: Bend your left knee out to the side and place your left foot flat on the mat. Stretch your right leg out and energize it by dorsi flexing the ankle (draw toes toward the shin) and engaging your quadricep (right knee cap lifts). Make a stop sign with your left hand and gently press the left elbow against the left inner knee to open the left hip and inner thigh. Place your right hand behind your back on the mat. Inhale to a long spine and then exhale to gently gently rotate the heart to the right and gaze over the right shoulder. As baby grows, be mindful to twist from the heart and not the low or mid belly. This pose continues to open the hips and gently rotates the spine in a healthy range of motion. Keep the spine long and root the pelvis as you inhale, gently rotate from the heart on the exhale. Hold for 5 – 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Krista Bromfield is a senior teacher at Balanced Life Yoga, a RYT, Can-Fit-Pro PRO Trainer, Mom and Auntie. She has an Honors Degree in Kinesiology and Education, and is the lead Anatomy Instructor for the Balanced Life Yoga Teacher Training Programs. Krista teaches a variety of classes including Power Yoga, Partner Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yog-ahhh, Prenatal Yoga, Stroller Fitness and Mom and Baby Yoga Bootcamp. She also leads Prenatal Yoga and 2UNITE Partner Yoga Teacher Training Certifications. http://www.balancedlifeyoga.ca/
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