By Juliana Mitchell
Juliana Mitchell, C-IAYT teaches prenatal yoga, leads prenatal yoga TT’s, and shares here the following nine pose sequence for expecting moms. Prenatal yoga has numerous benefits, key among them, is supporting expectant moms in connecting to their breath and body wisdom. The poses shown and as described here will be safe for many pregnant women. If any pose or transition hurts or feels wrong in any way, skip that pose or transition. If your wellness provider has advised you to avoid certain types of movements, honor their advice. When in doubt, consult your physician and err on the side of caution.
1. Mountain Pose
Stand well, upon your sticky mat, with feet armpit distance apart and parallel. Head and neck are over the pelvis. Jaw and shoulders are relaxed. Tail is free, not tucked.
2. Heart and Breath Centering
Place one hand at heart center and the other hand near baby’s heart. Close the eyes and feel the breath. You are breathing for two. After several moments, blink the eyes softly open and release the arms.
3. Standing Side Bend
Draw the right arm up alongside your ear. Let the other hand support the lowest, fullest part of the abdomen. Stretch up and over to left. Hold for several breaths, picturing the breath drawing into the right side of the ribcage. Then return mindfully to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.
4. Warrior One
Stand in Mountain Pose and place your hands on the bones of your pelvis with elbows pointed back. Step your right leg back, approximately 3 feet. Allow the front leg to bend, stacking the knee carefully over the ankle. Transfer the hands to heart center or extend them up. Hold for several breaths. Then bring the hands back to the hips and mindfully step the back leg forward to Mountain Pose. Sway the hips side to side. Repeat on the other leg.
Note: If you have sacroiliac joint instability, skip this pose.
5. Down Dog at the Wall
Bring your sticky mat to the wall. Facing the wall, place open hands against the wall, with wrists as wide as your shoulders. Bend your knees, lift your tail and step the feet away from the wall, bringing the pelvis back too. Allow arms to straighten. Adjust hands so they are the same distance from the earth as your hips. Rock the pelvis gently side to side and/or peddle out the legs. If there is any pain simply come out of the pose. Otherwise stay for a few breaths, and then step toward the wall coming to stand.
6. Dancer at the Wall
Stand close to the wall with head stacked over the pelvis. Place left hand at the wall, and swing the right foot up toward the right buttock. Reach the right hand back and hold the outer foot or ankle. Gently draw the heel toward the buttock or kick the leg against the hand. You might try both. Rather than leaning toward the wall, lift the heart and gaze up the wall and press away from the wall with your left hand. If you wish, you might then slide the left hand straight up the wall. Stay for a few breaths. Then come out gently. Repeat the other side. When you are done, your body might wish you to do another Down Dog at the Wall. Feel free to do so if that would feel good. Notes: Please don’t hold the inner foot or ankle in this pose. If you can’t reach the foot you may use a strap. If there’s pain in the low back or knee, skip the pose.
7. Half Reclined, Pregnancy Safe Twist
Place your buttock upon the mat, with legs out in front. Bring feet to the mat and bend knees toward the ceiling. Place a yoga block between your thighs. Position hands slightly behind you onto the mat, and as wide apart as the shoulders. Rock the knees over to the left. Noticed that there is weight on the left hip and none on the right hip. You might rock gently side to side or in circles over the flesh of the outer left hip and buttock. If you prefer to be on your forearms, feel free to do so. Enjoy for many breaths. Then come back to the center and repeat on the other side. If there is pain or discomfort, skip this pose.
Hydration break! The pregnant body needs a lot of fluid now that we are about to move to the earth, it’s a nice time for hydration break.
8. Supported Squat
Place a bolster against the wall. Sit upon the bolster, with the back against the wall. Make sure your pelvis and tail are not tucked. Sit up over your genitals with the low buttock all the way back toward the wall. Step the feet against the earth with knees bent. Place the ankles and knees a comfortable width apart, approximately as wide as your armpits or shoulders. Knees point over your second toe. Relax the shoulders down the wall. Place hands and arms comfortably atop the knees. Head is stacked over the pelvis. Relax the jaw. Close the eyes and feel the breath. Consider repeating to yourself, in any language that’s close to your heart, “My body knows how to birth this baby. And this baby knows how to be born to me “
9. Supported Side Reclining Pose
Rest is good medicine! Come to lay upon your side (or in any other position that you are comfortable with and your wellness provider is comfortable with). Please notice how many carefully placed structures are supporting the expectant mom in this picture. Take the time to organize pillows, blankets and/or towels so you feel well supported. Close your eyes and practice the art of rest and stillness. If limbs fall asleep or you’re uncomfortable, feel free to move or adjust. Otherwise stay for 5 to 20 minutes. You might wish to set a timer.
When you are done, use your hands to help you come to sit. Pause a moment. Notice that you are breathing for two. You might place one hand on your heart and one against your belly.
Learn more: LivingNowYoga.com
Photos: Carey MacArthur