I take a prenatal yoga class once a week at Bloom’s Yoga Studio. They offer free two hour prenatal yoga on Sundays for student training. Every time I leave, I feel happy and hopeful. Being in a room with other expectant mothers who know what you are going though, gives me the support I need to make it through the hard days.
Prenatal yoga classes are more popular than ever. When paired with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking, yoga can be an ideal way to stay in shape during your pregnancy. Three to four days a week, my husband and I go for 1-2 mile walks. Unfortunately, I’ve had to slow down dramatically on the running because I’ve been having hip pain and shortness of breath. This is fairly normal in pregnancy but I don’t want to overdo it.
Yoga is also beneficial because it helps you learn to breathe deeply and relax, which will come in handy as you face the physical demands of labor, birth, and motherhood. In fact, one of the first things you learn in a yoga class is how to breathe fully. The breathing technique known as ujjayi requires you to take in air slowly through your nose, filling your lungs, and exhale completely until your stomach compresses.
While prenatal yoga can be beneficial, it’s important to speak with your doctor if you’ve never done yoga or you are having any pregnancy complications. In addition, don’t force the pose. Listen to your body. During pregnancy, your body will change and you may not be able to do the poses you were able to do last week.
Yoga Poses for Pregnancy:
Cobbler’s or Tailor’s pose (baddha konasana): This sitting pose helps open the pelvis. If you are very loose-jointed in your hips, make sure your “sit bones” are well grounded on the mat or blanket (gently pulling the flesh on each side of your bottom out a bit will help you find the right position). Place pillows or rolled-up towels under your knees to avoid hyperextension of your hips.
Sit up straight against a wall with the soles of your feet touching each other.
Gently press your knees down and away from each other, but don’t force them apart.
Stay in this position for as long as you’re comfortable.
Pelvic tilt or Cat-Cow: This position helps relieve back pain, a common problem during pregnancy.
Get on your hands and knees, arms shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart, keeping your arms straight, but not locking the elbows.
Tuck your buttocks under and round your back as you breathe in.
Relax your back into a neutral position as you breathe out.
Repeat at your own pace.
Squatting: Denise recommends that her prenatal yoga students squat every day to relax and open the pelvis and strengthen the upper legs. As you start to feel heavier in pregnancy, use props such as yoga blocks or a few stacked books on which to rest your bottom. Focus on relaxing and letting your breath drop deeply into your belly.
Stand facing the back of a chair with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. Hold the back of the chair for support.
Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Then lower your tailbone toward the floor as though you were going to sit down on a chair. Find your balance — most of your weight should be toward your heels.
Take a deep breath and, exhaling, push into your legs to rise to a standing position.
Side-lying position: This is a good resting pose for the end of a practice.
Lie on your left or right side with your head resting on your arm or a blanket.
Put a body pillow or blanket roll between your thighs to give your hips some support.
If you’re in a yoga class, your instructor may guide you through some breathing exercises.
Other good poses during pregnancy: Try the standing postures Warrior I (virabhadrasana I), Warrior II (virabhadrasana II), and Tree (vrksasana). These poses help strengthen your joints and improve your balance. Warrior poses can also ease backache and sciatica.
Downward-Facing Dog (adho mukha vrksanasana) can energize your whole body, but it’s best not to do this position in your third trimester. Your yoga instructor may recommend variations on any of these classic poses.
Visit the March of Dimes Prenatal Yoga page. It has helpful tips.
FitPregnancy Yoga website has some great videos that I use at work during my break.