Prenatal yoga

A few times a month, I have the honor and privilege of working with a pregnant momma and be in her lovely presence, and watch her progress in her practice as she changes and her baby grows!

If a pregnant momma were to ask me, what would be the top poses to practice while pregnant, to get ready for childbirth, the following would be my choices! These pictures of the beautiful Laura illustrate poses that really help open the pelvis for childbirth, and I practiced them myself while pregnant with Camille.
These are ideas to be used after consulting with a health care professional first to determine if a gentle prenatal yoga practice would be OK for you. Make variations according to your body in the moment (which will be changing daily with a pregnancy). If something doesn't feel good, there is always an option-back off, do less or just don't do it at all and move on to something that does feel good! ;)
These could be done every evening before bed for a minute or more on each pose, working up to a longer hold with time, to relax and wind down and hopefully abide in a full night of restful sleep!
 Baddha konasana or bound angle. As shown above, Laura is practicing with her legs in more of a diamond shape. Another method would be to pull the heels in toward the seat. Either way is helpful, and it may be a good idea to practice both variations. Sometimes one variation feels "better" or "easier" than the other. I would venture to say that it may be a good idea to purposely practice the variation that feels a little more challenging, as that may help soften muscles that may be a little tighter! Laura has a nice, long back here, and is gazing ahead. This would bring the stretch more into the backs of the legs, hips, etc. For more a stretch in the back, allow the back to surrender and round the chin toward the chest slightly with the gaze down, and even let the eyes close so awareness and focus can be really close within, looking for areas where sensation is felt, and sending the breath there.
 Lizard pose (above) (practice on both sides). Variation ideas: Laura has her hands resting on a block. The block could be removed for a deeper stretch, or even allow the elbows to rest on the floor to deepen. The front foot can walk out further to the side, fully at the edge of the mat or even more, to allow more room for the growing belly :). The front foot can also change angle with the heel in and toe facing out. Another idea is to allow the front knee to rotate away from the shoulder, rolling to the outer edge of the front foot. The back leg knee can be resting at the floor or lifted.

<- Left: Upavistha Konasana or wide legged forward fold
Let the legs come into a wide V- width depending on your need for belly space and flexibility level. Sit with a tall back and let the hands rest on the floor in front of belly. Engage the legs slightly to press the length of legs into the floor (or place small rolled towels under knee creases to support knee joints if they are tight). Let the fingers do the walkin'... with a tall back and gaze toward toes, let the hands walk forward slightly and create a lean over the legs. A little does a lot here, and there's no need to overdo it! With time and breath, the hands may even walk slightly further forward. Be mindful of the areas that feel the stretch, allowing your breath to be sent there and bring along healing, softness or whatever else that area may be calling out for!
 Malasana or yoga squats (above). As demonstrated by the lovely Laura, a block is being used below her seat to support her weight. The block is on its lowest setting, but if more height were needed, two blocks stacked could be used, a folded blanket or two, or even a small stool. Look around the house and see what you find that could work! She is able to keep the full length of the feet on the ground, but for some people, they may need their heels lifted (if so, roll up small towels to place beneath each heel to support and lift, or roll up the edge of the yoga mat to make a soft support for the heels). The back is long and tall, gaze softly forward, chest open, and shown here with elbows pressing out on inner knees to open even more into the hips. If that were too difficult, a prop could be placed on the ground in front of the body to rest the hands on. In many cultures this body posture is so frequent and natural, and many women give birth in this position. Its great for digestion and helping things "move along" so to speak... there's a reason the Squatty Potty is so popular! (Side note, if you don't have one already- get one!! I've had one for a few years now and its revolutionized my digestion! Buy a squatty potty here

If you or someone you know would like private prenatal sessions, please contact me! If multiple people have a similar time that works, we could do small groups and form a little pregnant momma community. I love to consult with new clients to see what their needs are, what areas are giving them the most challenges during their pregnancy, and coming up with a really personalized practice to help them progress toward their goals. I often take pictures of clients and send them along, so they can see poses to practice at home and also note their progress over time.