Hey mama, are you continuing your yoga practice through pregnancy? Practicing yoga while pregnant can help with sleep, stress and prepare your body for birth. But keep in mind that prenatal yoga looks different from a general yoga class and not every class will have modifications for pregnancy. If you’re new to the yoga scene and aren’t sure how optimize your practice during pregnancy, you are in the right place! Learn the prenatal yoga basics with our go-to postures to try at home and some helpful tips on postures to avoid as your body and baby grow over the next nine months.
The key yoga postures to focus on during pregnancy involve lots of hip opening, pelvic alignment and breath connection. The postures to actively avoid are anything that will compress or overstrain your belly. Deep twisting, crunching movements, or any pose that has you laying on your stomach are not appropriate for pregnancy. Basically the idea with these prenatal yoga basics is to protect your belly and avoid overworking your pelvic floor, which feels pretty intuitive, right?
Begin seated on mat with soles of the feet together allowing hips to open. Place one hand on heart, one hand on belly. Settle here and begin connecting to your breath by inhaling into your belly so that you feel it expand. Follow this with a deep exhale, feeling all the air exit. Repeat 5-10 times.
Move gently to hands and knees, supporting your knees with a blanket or folded mat if necessary, to come onto all fours. Move through cat-cow, on your inhale open chest and hips towards the sky while arching your back. On the exhale round the spine in the opposite direction. Move through 5-10 cat-cow to your breath to warm the spine by moving with the breath.
Bring spine back to a neutral position and on next exhale shift hips back into downward facing dog. Being gentle to hamstrings keep the knees slightly bent and focus on tilting hips towards the sky while feeling a slight stretch in the hamstrings. Peddle the feet so that you straighten one leg at a time, breathe into the hamstring stretch here. Continue this movement 3-5 times each side or until your hamstrings feel like they’ve started to loosen.
Slowly start to walk your feet closer towards your hands at the top of the mat, when you’ve come as close as you can shift your weight into your feet and slowly come to a standing position at the top of the mat.
With hands at hearts center, start to ground down through your feet, feeling all four corners and distributing weight evenly through the soles of your feet. Shift weight into your right foot and step back with the left to come into a high lunge. Extend arms over head and keep right knee parallel with your ankle while you sink into the posture. 3-5 deep breaths here as chest is open, pelvis is square to front of the room and hips are stable here.
Start to open up hips as you move into warrior II, left foot is flat on the ground and parallel with the mats edge and arms open to stack shoulders evenly over hips. Remember to keep your knee directly over your ankle here to not strain the joints. Lunge into the posture to open the hips.
Using a block for support, straighten out front leg to transition into triangle pose for a deep hip opening and side body stretch. Imagine you are between two panels of glass here and keep shoulders stacked over just as the were in warrior II. Reach your right arm forwards toward the front of the room, when you cannot reach anymore start to tilt your upper body down while reaching for the floor, using the block for support. Your chest can be open to the side of the room or start to open to the sky, whichever feels most comfortable as long as you are keeping your chest lifted.
Start to release your upper body while turning your feet so that they are parallel to each other, point your toes slightly inwards. Use the blocks for support if necessary or simply place hands flat on the ground. With weight evenly placed between both feet, move deeper into the hip stretch with each exhale. Hang here for 3-5 breaths before repeating the starting sequence on the left side. When you’re ready move into a high lunge on the left side and move through the lunge, warrior II, and triangle posture on the left side. We will meet back in a wide leg forward fold.
From the wide leg forward fold bring your upper body up and walk you feet closer towards each other until they are just wider than hip width distance apart. from here sink slowly into malasana (a.k.a. squat position) and sink hips down towards the floor. If your hips are giving you difficulty with the squat, try moving your feet a bit wider until you find a comfortable spot that allow your hips to open. This is the hip posture and has been referred to as the best birth preparation pose! For good reason, right? Practicing this posture in particular will open your hips tremendously. Hang our here with hands together at hearts center while elbows push against knees to open the chest. 3-5 deep breaths, or as long as you feel comfortable.
Shift back into a seated position after your malasana to close out the practice. Soles of the feet come back together, ground down through the sitz bones and close your eyes while your hands rest on your heart and belly. Breathing deeply here focus on sending the breath to the hips that have just worked so hard to open and stabilize. Settle here for 10-15 breaths to close the practice in a seated position or in laying on your back in savansa if that is still a comfortable position.
Did you try this sequence? Leave us a comment below or tag us (@lizwinterswellness) in your IG stories, so we can send you a virtual high-five!