I love yoga. I love what it does for my body and for my mind. I love teaching and using yoga to help different groups, like children, trauma victims, and expecting mothers.
I really, really loved prenatal yoga training, and I figured, for myself, that practicing yoga during any future pregnancies would just jive. As a teacher, I would know how to modify traditional classes and how to safely and comfortably practice for hours on my own. Yoga would be this amazing thing that would help me have a blissful pregnancy. Yeah…no.I’ve honestly stopped teaching and stopped taking class because I feel stiff and uncomfortable and it’s kind of hard to adjust your students or model poses with zero ab muscles and your belly in the way. But yoga’s still such a major part of my life. It’s probably one of the only things that keep me sane right now, but physically, yoga’s just different for a little while…
And that’s okay. It’s great for alleviating all of the fun symptoms that come with a human taking up residency in your stomach. I have no rhythm anymore, and certainly no flexibility, but it helps me, even for a little bit, get some relief from the discomfort and have a little time to myself. You know, something I’ll never have again!
Here’s some of my favorite pre-natal yoga poses…
Heart Bench (with blocks and a bolster). Heart bench feels great on my back, but I definitely have needed extra props to feel like my belly isn’t stretching too much. Blocks typically go under your head and between the shoulder blades. Add a bolster for extra comfort, making sure the blocks are stable before reclining down. Let the legs rest and stretch, or bring the feet together with the knees turned out for an added hip opener.
Bridge Pose. Bridge is gentle enough for pregnancy, keeps your legs strong, and relieves back pain. Lay on your back, walk your heels into the body, and press into the feet as you lift up the hips. Don’t let the knees spill out to the sides, they should stay right over the ankles. Make this restorative by sliding a block under the sacrum and letting the body relax onto it for a few breaths.
Cat/Cow. Cat cow is great to take the pressure off of the back since baby can just literally hang down. Make sure hips are stacked over the knees, shoulders are stacked over the wrists, and palms are spread out wide. As you breathe in, arch the back, retract the shoulder blades, and look up; as you breathe out, round the back and feel the shoulder blades separate.
Child’s Pose. I don’t care how ‘advanced’ of a yogi you ever were, child’s pose is the juiciest thing when you just let everything sink back and reach your hands forward. So stretchy, especially when baby can just hang down between your knees. From cat/cow, bring the knees a bit wider if necessary and sink the hips back towards the ankles. Reach the hands forward, spreading our the finger tips. Add a bolster to make it super comfy!
Down Dog (with blocks and bent knees). This might be the only thing that cracks my back in all the right places, even if I need to bend my knees to reach my heels to the floor, and my stance is not as wide/deep as it used to be. From child’s pose, tuck the toes and press the hips up to the sky, gently moving the hands slightly forward. Bend into the knees to relieve tension in the low back. Use blocks on their lowest height to relieve tension from the shoulders, as well. Drawing the chest towards the thighs is always the most important in down dog.
Legs up the Wall. Restless legs, usually from lack of constant movement, are common and not fun during pregnancy. Besides just being really comfortable, this actually helps to break up the lactic acid and give your legs a break. Sit with your side against the wall and rotate your body, sending the legs up overhead. Get your butt as close to the wall as possible. If it feels okay, have someone put a sandbag or yoga block on top of your feet.
Bound Angle. Hip openers are like the most natural way to relieve stress in the hips during pregnancy and give your belly some room. I’ve always loved hip openers, and now I love them even more. Bring the feet together, sit up nice and tall, and lean forward, leading with the heart (trying NOT to round the back).
Pigeon. My favorite pre-pregnancy pose got a bit difficult, but it still feels awesome with some tweaking. Keep both hips facing forward, with the front knee pointing out, NOT forward, and the front foot flexed. Place a block or bolster under the front hip, if it’s not on the ground, to prevent the body from slipping to that side.
Firelog. I love this pose, but every time I teach it, the general consensus is pure agony during this intense hip opener. Take the modifier if it’s really not your thing. Sit up tall and stack the shins so the top foot is able to just dangle off of the bottom knee. Flex both feet and make sure the shins are completely parallel to one another. If this isn’t happening, extend the bottom leg (so the legs make the #4), and keep flexing.
I do these a couple times a week to keep my body from getting too stiff and uncomfortable, but I’ve learned that I have to be super careful with hip openers (the last 3 poses). Pelvic symphesis disorder affects women in pregnancy when their pelvis (which has to widened/opened to give birth) overstretches and causes your pelvic girdle to be unbalanced. It hurts. A lot. And there’s not much you can do for it other than try to maintain leg strength and use caution. Oh, and wear a sexy preggo belt!
I kind of blame yoga for making me too stretchy and I’m 100% convinced it contributed to me developing this “disorder” but what do I know. I’ve backed off of the hip openers and I definitely don’t push myself or let myself go as deep as I’m able. Or was able..I don’t even know anymore! I’m probably losing all of my flexibility and will be a hot mess when I go back to yoga but oh well. Small price to pay for a healthy, adorable little human!
Also, I can’t wait to turn him into a little yogi and practice mommy and me yoga with him!!