The Rundown on Prenatal Yoga

Traditionally, yoga practiced in India by men only. However, with the spread of yoga its popularity has gained it a special demographic, expecting moms. Prenatal yoga upholds many of the benefits from traditional yoga, whilst being a refuge for moms-to-be, where they can embrace their bump and all of the changes that come with it.

5 BENEFITS OF PRENATAL YOGA

1) THE POWER OF BREATH: Breathwork practiced in prenatal yoga can give you energy, quiet the nervous system and be a valuable and beneficial tool during labor.

2) CONNECTIVITY: During pregnancy ‘change’ seems to be the only constant. Prenatal yoga facilitates a smoother transition into motherhood by encouraging mom-to-be to stay connected to herself (mentally, emotionally and physically) and her growing baby. It also provides a great opportunity to connect with other women who can relate to the experience.

3) RELIEF: Prenatal yoga naturally relieves women from some of the various discomforts that they may experience during pregnancy, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, shortness of breath, heartburn, nausea and lower back pain.

4) WELLBEING: Prenatal yoga reduces stress and anxiety, which will contribute to a happier pregnancy and allow mom to focus on preparing for baby.

5) PHYSICAL HEALTH: A regular prenatal yoga practice builds strength and balance, improves circulation and mood, and stretches and strengthens the spine. Prenatal yoga makes it easier to manage a changing body (extra weight, shifting center of gravity, etc.), whilst preparing mom for labor.

5 TIPS FOR PRENATAL YOGA

1) SAFETY FIRST: Always, ALWAYS, check with your doctor, health care provider, or OB/GYN etc. before doing prenatal yoga or any other type of physical exercise whilst pregnant.

2) ADJUST: As your pregnant body changes, your poses and use of props will become different too. Go with the changes and adjust your practice to suit.

3) AWARENESS: Some days you’ll feel stronger than others. Honor your body and be aware of what feels right, this can change daily. Try not to jerk or jump into or out of a pose, think about keeping the abdomen soft while lengthening and strengthening the spine.

4) BREATHE: Your breath should be smooth and regular, as well as, energizing for both you and the baby. Check in and if you notice that your breathing is labored, or that you are panting or breathless, stop what you are doing.

5) PATIENCE: Do not strain or treat this as a vigorous workout. Exercise patience with your changing body and don’t be misled by the media’s depiction of expecting moms. As the quote says “Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can.”

4 PRENATAL YOGA POSES TO TRY:

Reclined Bound Angle Pose – calming and grounding. A supported back bend that opens the chest and hips, and improves circulation

Reclined Bound Angle Pose
  • Place a block/folded blanket at the back of your mat and place one end of a bolster (vertically) on the block. Place two rolled blankets at an angle beside the bolster.
  • Sit so that the base of your back is at the base of the bolster with the soles of your feet pressed together.
  • Use the help of your hands and arms to slowly lower and lie down on the bolster.
  • Place the rolled blankets so that they support your thighs and or elbows.
  • Option to use a blanket under the head.
  • Observe your breath and find quietness. Stay for at least 5 minutes.
  • To come out, gently bring the knees together, soles of the feet on the floor; then straighten the legs and lie still for a few breaths.
  • Bend the knees and roll over onto your side; pause for several breaths and use the help of your hands to come upright.

Warrior 2 at the Wall – uplifts and generates heat. Strengthens the legs, which supports the spine and increases stamina.

Warrior 2 at the Wall
  • With your mat coming length ways out of the wall, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and the outer edge of your right foot flush against the wall.
  • Turn your left toes to face towards the top of your mat.
  • Bend your left knee so that it is directly over your left ankle.
  • Left arm is parallel to the ground, as you gaze over the left fingertips. Right palm presses into the wall with a bent elbow.
  • Keep spine vertical and hold posture for a few breaths.
  • Straighten the left leg and turn left toes so that both feet are parallel.
  • Gracefully heel-toe feet together.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Supported Bridge Pose – calming and rejuvenating. Stretches the chest, neck and spine while improving digestion and rejuvenates tired legs.

Supported Bridge Pose
  • Lie on your mat on your back, arms alongside the body.
  • With the soles of your feet on your mat, place them hip width apart with the ankles underneath the knees.
  • On your next exhalation press the soles of your feet firmly into the mat. Send your pelvis up the sky as you lift your hips.
  • Place a block or bolster underneath the sacrum/lower back.
  • Option to extend the arms out like a capital ‘T,’ palms facing upward.
  • Take at least 10 breaths.
  • As you inhale, send your hips up.
  • Take the block out from underneath you and roll down vertebrae by vertebrae (starting at the upper back and ending at the tailbone).
  • Bend the knees and roll over onto your side; pause for several breaths and use the help of your hands to come upright.

Seated Wide Angle Pose – strengthens and prepares. Releases groin, stretches legs and prepares body for labor. Discontinue this pose after about 34 weeks if baby is not head down.

Seated Wide Angle Pose
  • Sit with soles of the feet together in front of the pelvis.
  • Take the legs wide apart.
  • Place the hands by your sides.
  • Vertical spine – if rounding in back occurs sit on folded blanket as needed.
  • Knee caps and toes point straight up.
  • Press strongly through the inner heels and big toe mounds.
  • Option to bring your hands in front you, fold forward from your hips. Ensure there is plenty space for baby.
  • Relax the muscles in the face and breath for 10 – 15 breaths.
  • To come out, use the help of your hands underneath the knees as you bring the soles of the feet together.

“Yoga creates stability and unity in all aspects of my life, whether it be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Amongst many things, yoga teaches me patience, trust and balance.” – Cashell Watsun

Cashell Watsun is a highly-trained yoga instructor. She completed her 200 hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) training with Yandara Yoga, in Baja, Mexico (2015), and 85 hours as a RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) at the Yoga Garden in San Francisco, CA (2016). In June, she heads back to California to further specialize in Yin Yoga under the guidance of Paul and Suzee Grilley. She currently teaches at One Yoga, located at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad. .

 

Special thank you to mama-to-be Deepa Persad for showcasing our yoga positions.

The XX Team

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