As you embark on your journey of motherhood, Prenatal yoga is a wonderful gift to give yourself. The benefits of a regular yoga practice help to increase flexibility and prepare for childbirth through the physical poses and breathing exercises. Whether you are starting yoga for the first time or want to continue your yoga practice, prenatal yoga is a great way to embrace this transition in your life and prepare for baby.
The accessibility of in person Prenatal yoga classes has changed due to Coronavirus
The good news is that you can start and maintain your Prenatal Yoga practice in the comfort of your home. The trick to starting and maintaining an in-home practice is in the following three steps:
Find the right location – The hardest part of an in-home practice is the distractions of being in your home. It is important to be able to truly honor your home space as a place to nourish and support you in body and mind.
It is easy to lose focus when you bend over and see a dust bunny under the coffee table or open your eyes and see a pile of papers to go through. So, eliminate as many of these distractions as possible by being in a quiet, removed area that helps you tune in to your center and relax, while providing the right amount of space to move with ease.
Find the right style within Prenatal Yoga- It may sound surprising, but there are a variety of yoga styles to choose from within Prenatal Yoga.
While all prenatal classes focus on hip openers, back strengtheners, and breathing techniques. Some classes focus on relaxing, deep stretches while others focus on invigorating flows. The beauty of practicing at home is that you can explore any and all styles at your convenience and find the right fit for you. This also allows the freedom to modify and use props that you might not have felt comfortable doing in an in-person class.
Explore and Enhance your Practice – Since you are in the comfort and safety of your home you can make the yoga practice exactly what you want it to be. Ready to move to another pose? Go for it! Want to add a pillow under your back while laying down? Go for it! Trust me, we have all been there and from my own experience, being able to settle into a yoga pose and relax my mind in the atmosphere of my own home has made a big difference.
As baby grows, they start to put pressure on the back, hips, and hamstrings, so prenatal yoga really focuses on deep stretches for these areas to open up and relieve tension as well as prepare the body for labor and delivery.
It is also important to learn how to bring these poses into your daily life to be able to sleep better, have more energy, and even move baby into position as you get further along in your pregnancy.
Breathing exercises are another important aspect to add to your yoga practice as help to focus the mind and channel your energy during labor and delivery. There are a variety of techniques available ranging from taking deep full body breaths to taking rapid powerful breaths.
The following yoga sequence is a great one to add to your routine as often as you can!
Straw breathing exercise
- Starting with a breathing exercise is a wonderful way to settle in and make the transition from your day to your mat. This is a calming breathing exercise that is also good to refer to when in labor as it can be done as fast or slow as you prefer.
- Sitting in a comfortable position, close your eyes or set a soft gentle gaze. Draw a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through pursed lips as though breathing through a straw. Repeat for 5-10 times.
- Child’s pose calms the brain and provides grounding energy, necessary to alleviate any stress or fatigue you may be experiencing in the moment.
- Starting on hands and knees, simply sit back on your heels, either reaching your arms straight out in front of you for a deeper back stretch or keeping them at your side for a more restorative experience.
- This is one of the best poses during pregnancy as it relieves tightness in the spine, provides a gentle embracing motion to rock your baby, and helps get baby into position for delivery.
- Starting on hands and knees, inhale as you sink down through your belly, looking up toward the sky and exhale as you round your spine, drawing your chin to your chest. Repeat for 30 seconds to a minute.
Downward Facing Dog
- Downward Facing Dog provides a deep, full body stretch that helps to let go of tension.
- The easiest way to get into this pose is by starting on hands and knees and lifting up through your hips, drawing your hips to the sky as you lengthen through your spine and legs, drawing energy down into your hands and feet. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
- Pigeon Pose is a deep hip opener that allows the release of tightness in the hips and lower back.
- Beginning from Downward Facing Dog, extend one leg behind you, bending your knee and drawing it to the mat behind your wrist. Place your foot closer to your hip for a gentle stretch and further away for a deeper stretch, lengthen through your spine, and fold forward as far as feels comfortable. Hold for 5-8 breaths and switch sides.
- Squatting is a great way to open the hips and strengthen the pelvic floor. Starting in a standing position with your feet at the edges of your yoga mat, inhale as you reach your hands to the sky and exhale sinking into a squat, drawing hands to heart center. If your heels do not touch the mat, that is okay – you can always roll the end of your mat under your heels for extra cushion if you prefer. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
- This is one of the most important poses in yoga as it is a true union of body and mind. While it is okay to lay on your back up to the 20th week of pregnancy, it’s recommended to use a pillow or bolster and a block to prop your chest and head up in order to not constrict airflow to the baby. Another option is resting on your side.
- Embrace this time to feel the benefits of your yoga practice flow through your body, enabling rest in your body to open up to your breath and release all of the tension and thoughts running through your mind.
Embarking on this path during pregnancy is a beautiful way to tap into the humility, love, strength, and compassion within you to share it with your baby.