During pregnancy I had difficulty breathing which made it impossible to exercise much more than walking and even that left me out of breath at times! Yoga was my only hope of staying at least somewhat active. Fortunately, yoga has always been a favorite activity of mine and I was excited to develop a new routine that would be safe and effective for me during pregnancy.
Practicing yoga in general can benefit both the body and the mind in many ways. During pregnancy I found a new appreciation for quite a few of those benefits. As I already mentioned, yoga was one of the few ways I could continue to stay fit, which was really important to me. I loved how flexible I was throughout my pregnancy...I like to brag about being able to paint my own toenails at 41 weeks! Yoga was also great for relieving my daily aches and pains, stilling my restless legs, quieting my mind, reducing stress, and helping me sleep better at night. Not to mention, my daily yoga routine provided an excellent opportunity for me to practice breathing exercises that come in handy during labor!
I want to make note that not all yoga poses are safe to perform while pregnant. Please consult a healthcare professional first before trying prenatal yoga. First of all some poses may become difficult or uncomfortable as the belly grows and the body's center of gravity shifts. They can either be modified, performed with props, or skipped altogether. Some general safety precautions to keep in mind: avoid overstretching, lying on the stomach or back, or motions that involve twisting the midsection or bending backwards. Also be careful to reduce the risk of falling while in a pose...sorry ladies but this is not the time for headstands. A good rule of thumb...if it doesn't feel right, then don't do it!
My Prenatal Yoga Routine
- Mountain Pose: I love to start all my yoga routines by grounding myself with this pose.
- Half Moon: Remember to return to mountain pose and stretch both sides.
- Garland Pose: Great for opening the hips in preparation for childbirth. If the pose is hard to hold, a prop may be placed underneath the tailbone for support.
- Warrior I into Warrior II: These poses are empowering and made me feel strong and confident. Flow from one into the other and then switch sides.
- Wide-legged Forward Bend: If the floor cannot be reached, a prop can be used or just simply allow the upper body to hang as far as it will naturally.
- Downward Dog: By the end of my second trimester this pose became difficult. It can be modified by placing hands on an elevated surface or a prop.
- Cat/Cow Tilt: This one is by far my favorite, it just feels so great! The movement stretches out the back, shoulders and neck. It takes the weight of the belly off of the body and can encourage the baby to change position if necessary.
- Child's Pose: I did not find this one comfortable towards the end of my pregnancy. Extra space for the belly can be provided by spreading the knees further apart and then resting the head atop folded arms instead of directly on the floor.
- Hero Pose: This one is very good for opening the upper back and shoulders, as well as the chest which can be beneficial for those with heartburn as I did. Again, remember to do both sides.
- Butterfly Pose: This provides an overall good stretch, specifically of the pelvic area and opening the hips in preparing for childbirth.
- Easy Pose: This is a great way to end the routine. Often I would sit and meditate at this point.
For a guide to the above yoga poses and how to perform them visit:
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