Pre Natal Yoga Tips and Benefits
Congratulations on expecting your bundle of sweet joy!!!!
Once the initial news sets in, it is time to start cultivating a yoga and meditation practice (if you do not have a practice already established). Most ladies who do pre natal yoga have never done yoga before and have been referred by their OB/GYN or midwife for a variety of reasons. I want to make sure that you know it is A-OK if you have never done yoga before, to start doing it now. It is never too late to start! :)
I got my pre natal certification when I was about 25 weeks pregnant. Until then, I did the best I could but I kept up my practice as a non pregnant person. Once I went through my training, not only did I see and feel the benefits of a specialized practice, but I realized that I could not maintain the intensity and level of yoga that I had been practicing for many years. Which is INCREDIBLY humbling by the way..... I actually did an earlier post before I did my teacher training and although I was able to do inversions and twists - I would not recommend these poses to my clients. Many pregnant women want to keep up their current level of activity and exercise throughout the entire pregnancy but to maintain at a safe and healthy level for baby, you have to modify. I believe that every woman, every human body, is different so it is important to listen to your body, your intuition, and your doctor.
Since this training almost two years ago, I have been so lucky to have the opportunity to work with many pregnant goddesses and share this valuable information. There is SO much I want to tell you but I will keep it brief. If you ever have an interest to go deeper and learn more, please contact me directly.
Tip #1: Avoid getting up too quick
You may start to notice round ligament pains or even dizziness. Take your time getting up from sitting, use the wall/chair/desk/etc. for support to stand slowly. Maybe ask someone around you to give you a hand. For example, if you are in a yoga class in a forward fold, Uttanasana, I recommend taking an inhale to bring your hands to the thighs while bending the knees, and as you exhale slowly press to stand tall. Also, taking multiple breaths (versus one breath per movement) can also help prevent dizziness.
Tip #2: Practice perfect posture!
Something that I hear from almost every pregnant client is complaints about low back pain and round ligament pain. I think this was one of the most beneficial tips that I learned! In Anusara yoga, they practice different energetic "loops" that I like to incorporate when teaching posture for pre natal yoga.
Here is what I recommend, starting from the ground up:
1. Stand tall in Tadasana
2. Spread the toes and root into the 4 corners of each foot, lifting up through the arches.
3. Keep a soft bend in the knees (you never want to lock the knees in pre natal yoga) while activating the quadriceps.
4. Engage the Pelvic Loop - draw the tailbone down and you lift up the lower abdominal muscles (hug baby to your body) - this helps "lift" baby off of the round ligaments that might be sensitive and also brings space in the lumbar area of the spine where you might be feeling some discomfort from lumbar lordosis.
5. Engage the Heart Loop - lift the heart while drawing the shoulder blades down the back- extend the arms and reach through the finger tips
6. Engage the Crown Loop - lift up through the back of the skull and gently tuck the chin down
Pause here and breathe. Try to build this posture every chance you get, as it will be a practice to re-program your body and brain on your posture but you will soon start to notice that it feels good!! :)
Tip #3: Avoid overstretching
You will have a lot of the hormone, Relaxin, running through your body that prepares you for the birthing process. Because of this, it is very easy to over stretch because you might not feel poses the same way you used to before pregnancy. It IS possible to over stretch your skin, ligaments, and muscles causing injury. I would focus more on strength and stability, and less flexibility. For example, in cat/cow, I recommend on the inhale just lengthen the spine in neutral and as you exhale, press into the hands and round the spine into cat.
Tip #4: Core cultivation is really important
I know, it seems strange to keep your core strong during pregnancy but there are a lot of benefits. For one, it does help with the lumbar lordosis issue mentioned above by supporting the pregnant body, baby, and also helps with the recovery process after birth. I want to mention that "core" does not only mean "abs", it covers the region of the body that includes the pelvic floor, glutes, back muscles, and diaphragm. Activation of Mula Bandha is super important for strengthening and toning of the pelvic floor.
Tip #5: Meditate, meditate, meditate
When I crossed over into about the 32nd week of pregnancy, I felt super heavy, tired, grouchy, and just ready for baby to come. I felt like I could only do two or three poses in my yoga practice because I was just too big - and even those were frustrating as I couldn't "feel the stretch" that I was looking for because of the increased levels of Relaxin. So, I became a mediating fool! I started meditating every day and sometimes twice a day. I was able to face fears about labor, about becoming a mom, and really started to connect with the Earth in a way that I never knew was possible. I meditated on Apana Vayu, the downward direction of Prana, with a focus on elimination and release. During this time, I would imagine taking an inhale down into the pelvic floor, and then exhaling out of the pelvic floor, into the Earth. Almost as if I was showing my baby the way "out" with my breath and energy, when the time was right for her to start her descent. I let the downward force of energy keep me grounded and felt trust cultivating for a healthy labor. My doula and best friend gave me some HypnoMomma meditations that I found absolutely perfect and I also listened to in the early stages of labor. If you would like me to send them to you, please feel free to contact me directly.
I hope this gives you some helpful information in your journey! I wish you many blessings!