Pregnancy Poses That Worked For Me
Now that I am through the rough patch, my practice has been back to a strong, dedicated place. And it feels great!! I wanted to share some of the poses that have surprised me on how great they feel for my body (and mind!). However, I must disclose that I AM NOT A CERTIFIED PRE-NATAL YOGA INSTRUCTOR, I AM ONLY A YOGA ALLIANCE CERTIFIED 200 HOUR TEACHER. I can merely go on what has worked for me. I felt that this blog post might inspire other pregnancy mamas to get over their fears about getting on the mat or even be a good reference source to pass along to anyone who might be wanting to get pregnant. At this point, in my pregnancy I am just crossing over into my 18th week and I plan to keep practicing as much as I can for as long as I can! :) My intention for practicing while pregnancy is to help me during labor and keep my body strong so I can return to whatever practice I want after I recover and to be a wonderful example for my darling babe instilling strength and peace.
All my yoga life, I have heard "if you are pregnant, do not practice inversions". You will constantly be given advice that sometimes contradicts what you just heard so my advice is just do what works the best for your unique body and serves you a HIGHER PURPOSE. So, I enter these with caution. I do not practice inversions just anywhere and anytime if I felt the urge like I used to. I practice in the safety of my home studio. Also, I started right up against the wall like I did when beginning to learn inversions. After I felt my strength and confidence returning, I moved away from the wall gradually. Remember to hug in the belly so you activate the core and do not lose control. Plus, I feel it mentally protects your babe. I feel that if you had a strong inversion practice before you got pregnant, then you will more than likely be able to practice with knowledge and awareness. Please do not attempt inversions for the first time while you are pregnant. Just wait until your beautiful babe is here to watch you! :)
In pregnancy, your body is going to be so super tight that you might think you will never twist again. But I can promise you, you will. And the more you make yourself get on the mat and urge your body to unravel with your breath, you will start to create peaceful space. For me, all twists feel amazing for the low back, sacrum, hips & shoulders - but I chose Revolved Triangle (Pavritta Trikonasana) for this blog because not only is it a beautiful twist for the spine but it gives some love into my outer hips and IT Band. Normally, I love to practice double pigeon/pigeon for this area of the body but folding forward is getting more challenging with my growing baby belly. You are welcome to use a block under your base hand to help root down so you can reach up through your top hand. I chose to have a wider stance, squaring off the hips and pulling my torso away from my thighs almost as if I was leaning back in Triangle. It made it easier for me to bring my palm flat to the ground on the inside of my front foot to stack the shoulders. Again - do what feels the best for you where you are able to find a place in your twist where you can breathe deeply through any intensity with ease.
3. UPAVISTHA KONASANA (seated wide leg forward fold)
Strangely enough, this was one of my least favorite poses before pregnancy and now it makes so so happy! Pregnancy will do that to you with so many things! :) Enjoy the explorative mind during this beautiful time. When seated, open your legs as wide as what feels good. Don't go to your edge or attempt "cheerleader style". Come to a comfortable, safe width with the legs. Flex the feet to press the energy through the heels, allow the thighs to press into the earth grounding your leg bones. I like to start with hands behind my bum to lift the chest and spine while lengthening and grounding the legs. Once you feel you are ready to fold, keep your sitting bones pressing down into the mat and away from you so you feel a "lift" out your low back. Take a big inhale to extend the spine and slightly walk the hands forward. I chose to use a block under my forearms so I could keep a long spine and deep, nourishing breath. Feel a nice opening in the groins and inner thighs taking several deep inhales through the nose and exhaling out of the mouth.
4. TREE POSE (Vrksasana)
I am not here to disillusion you that balancing poses are going to be a piece of cake. More so ever than before, you will need to focus your attention and drishti. But once you start to find your balance (and again, I promise you will) it feels so empowering! Your baby belly will be heavy so at first you might feel a bit uneasy so I would suggest starting with your foot in "kick stand" with the toes on the ground and heel resting in the inner ankle then moving up to rest on the calf as you gain balance and when your body is ready, bring the foot to the top of the thigh. Please be aware to avoid the knee. Balancing poses will help you in an incredible way, not only physically but emotionally. Let the bottom foot root into the mat helping you to make the spine long. Your hands can remain at the heart or lift overhead with the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Once you are in your version of tree, let your mind settle in the space between each thought. Breathe into this space in your mind. Allow your tree to be strong, stable yet so gentle.
5. UPWARD FACING DOG (urdhva mukha svanasana)
The first poses that I started to see emerge back into my practice that genuinely felt like gold was any and all back bends. The belly will be extremely tight so make time at the beginning and during your practice to throw in several cat/cows, anahatanasana (downward puppy), and any other back bend that your inner teacher is guiding you to. I have been loving upward facing dog as it helps open the chest, collar bones and shoulders as well as the nice arch in the back that allows my belly to stretch. Once in up dog, try to remain there for a few moments to let the front of the spine and torso receive some healing breaths while making space for your sweet babe. Relax the glutes and try to energize the tops of the feet into the mat to lift the thighs up. But if you need to, you can keep the legs on the ground for a modified version. As a counter pose, connect to the core to lift the hips into downward facing dog and then drop the knees out wide with the big toes together for childs pose. Let the heart sink into the mat. Soften your breath. Let the energy settle before moving on to your next pose.
At the end of your practice, please make time for Savasana. This allows the body to reset preventing injury and welcome the beautiful blessings of our practice. I wish you all a beautiful, healthy pregnancy! Namaste! xoxo!