It’s important to stay fit and healthy when you’re making a little person, and there are loads of pregnancy-friendly ways to do that – from walking and swimming to pregnancy fitness apps that help you adapt your gym routines (don’t forget that your Babymule also makes an excellent gym bag!). Many women decide to try yoga for the first time when they’re pregnant, because a pregnancy yoga class will give you a gentle workout and a chance to relax and bond with your growing baby. If you’re already a yoga bunny, pregnancy is the perfect time to shift the focus away from the physical practice, tune in to your changing body and quiet your busy mind.
Here are three easy, pregnancy-friendly yoga poses that will help you get grounded and start to notice what’s happening in your body and mind. Do remember to check with your doctor before you start any exercises in pregnancy – no individual exercise is suitable for everybody.
Begin in kneeling and widen your knees so that as you lean forward, there will be plenty of room for your belly. Place a pillow, long cushion or bolster between your knees – or more than one, piled up, if you’d like more padding. Carefully lean forward and lay your torso along the bolster or pillow, turning your head to one side. You can adjust your position and the padding until you’re comfortable and aren’t squashing your belly. Add as much support as you need. Your hands can be holding the sides of the bolster or stacked in front of it, forearms resting on the floor. See if you can bring equal weight into all points that are touching the ground: shins, tops of the feet, forearms and hands – this equality of touch will naturally support your spine and allow it to really rest. Now breathe normally, and notice the feeling of your breath in the back of your body, your back ribs expanding and contracting as you inhale and exhale.
Gentle, Seated Twist
Sit in a cross-leg position that is comfortable for you. If you need support, you can place cushions or blocks under your knees, or under your buttocks to tilt the pelvis slightly forward and make sitting up straight easier. The main focus here is comfort, not stretch or strain. Again, look for an equality of touch between all the parts of your body that are on the ground. Clasp your hands lightly and as you inhale, press your pelvis down into the ground to create a little lift in your chest. On the exhale, allow your right ribs to drop away from you with the outward breath, letting this turn your upper body to the right. Place your clasped hands on the outside of the right knee as you maintain a very gentle twist to the right for a few natural breaths. Draw your upper arm bones gently into the shoulder sockets – resisting the urge to stretch them out to increase the twist. Come back to the centre and repeat on the left side, this time focussing on the breath in the left side of the ribs and allowing your bottom ribs to drop away towards your pelvis on each out breath.
Everyone’s favourite part of a yoga practice is the relaxation at the end, traditionally performed lying on your back. But during pregnancy, after 20 weeks, it’s not advisable to lie on the back, so this variation is ideal. Use as many cushions, bolsters and pillows as needed to lie comfortably on your side. If you have a pregnancy pillow, you can use that. A bolster between the knees can feel delicious, too. In any case, make sure your head is supported in line with your spine – you can place one or both hands underneath your cheek if it’s comfortable. Again, aim to bring balance to all the points touching the ground. If you feel a lot of weight in the hip, press the legs, head and shoulder more firmly into the ground to bring greater equality. As in your twist, draw your arm bones gently into the shoulder sockets. Play with the position of your legs and body to find a comfortable balance between the front and back of the body. Close your eyes and take a long rest here, savouring the stillness. You can keep it simple by just observing the flow of your breath, the physical sensations in your body, or your baby’s movements. Alternatively, you could use a guided meditation or relaxation track to help you unwind even further.
Practiced regularly, yoga is a great way to make time for yourself and your growing baby in your busy life. Remember that the best way to learn is from a qualified pre-natal yoga teacher, so do look out for pregnancy classes in your local area.
This post was written by Brighton based Yoga Teacher Charlee, Human Yoga.