The experience of pregnancy is a distinctive invitation to be acutely aware of your internal processes, both physically and mentally. Amidst the increasingly dynamic flow of your life, there is the opportunity to be physically slower, more mindful, and trust the natural intelligence of your body.
It won’t be easy to be gentle and slow down if you are used to vigorous and athletic practice. This more peaceful practice cultivates patience, which is vital postpartum.
It may be harder to practice during the first trimester. The body’s hormonal flux can cause morning sickness, pelvic pain, and discharge during the first few weeks following conception. It is, therefore, important to focus on gentle movements, especially during the first trimester.
Yoga is not the cure-all. Listening to your body and respecting it will help you to be the best. Avoid putting pressure on the abdomen and pelvis. Dandasana, compressing internal organs and the core (i.e., Anything Parivrtta or Marichyasana, excessive back stress, or long periods of passive rest (i.e., Traditional Savasana, Urdhva Prasarita padasana and working with an experienced teacher is always recommended for pregnant women at high risk. It is best to consult your doctor before engaging in any physical activity.
Check out these gentle poses to build strength, confidence, and happiness during your pregnancy, whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or new to yoga.
Utkata konasana (variation), Goddess Pose
If you identify yourself as a goddess pregnant, there is no better pose for strengthening your legs, stretching your spine, and opening the front of your hips. This variation of Utkata Konasana encourages you to twist as far as you feel comfortable while still making room for your growing belly. Relaxin is one of the hormones that flow through your body. It loosens your joints and ligaments, preparing your pelvis for delivery. In Utkata konasana, the hips may open more easily than usual. It is, therefore, important to protect your body by using your muscles and keeping your hips higher or parallel to the ground. The arms are also on the lower thigh in order to avoid pressing on the knees, which can be sensitive because they have relaxed. Slowly move to the left or right five to ten times.
Virasana with Gomukhasana Arms – Hero Pose with Cow Face Arms
As a hero in your own right, this pose allows you to recall your inner strength and courage. This pose is helpful for reducing swelling and pain in the legs. It also stimulates blood flow. Gomukhasana’s arms encourage chest expansion and strengthen the upper back and chest, countering the natural shoulder slump caused by increased weight on the front. Use a strap if the components don’t naturally touch. This will prevent a bulging belly from sticking out and align the lower back. Sending thoughts of courage and strength to your stomach is a fun way to play. You can practice for one minute on each side. If your legs become numb or if you no longer feel strong and joyful (sukha), then it’s time to stop.
Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana, one of the most rejuvenating and restorative poses at any time in your life, is the pose to choose if you have only one minute per day. This pose has been known to reduce abdominal pain and improve digestion, which can be affected by relaxin impacting the stomach. This pose also stretches the key delivery muscles, such as the groins, inner thighs, and pelvis, as well as increasing the external rotation of the hips. The booster should completely support the lower back and not leave any gaps. Use blocks shaped in a T, and then place a pillow or bolster on top. The towel or blanket placed under the head will lift it so that you can experience a deeper release of the chest and shoulders. A strap around your lower back and foot can provide extra support and encourage more sensation. You can practice anywhere between 5-20 minutes per session.
Upavistha Konasana – Wide-Angle Pose (concave-back)
Upavistha Konasana improves circulation, tones kidneys, and strengthens lower back and pelvic muscles. It also cultivates suppleness and tone in the inner thighs and groin. This pose is not recommended if your doctor has advised you to avoid it because the fetus may have descended too early, the cervical dilation, or for other reasons. For the best results, make sure the legs are completely on the ground, that the waist is long, and that the shoulders are open to create a concave spine. To reach the feet, the hands can be extended towards the big Toe. A strap will also help. It is important to explore sensations in the backs of the legs, as the hamstrings are often forgotten once you stop doing forward folds. You can practice for up to a minute as long as your breath and body feel steady (sthira).
Supta Padangusthasana 2, (variation) – Reclining Hand to Big Toe
Supta Padangusthasana 2, which is sometimes performed with the leg supporting the pose pressed up against a wall or on a wooden block to provide feedback, invites gentle exploration of hips. Utkata Konasana and Upavistha Konasana require an active opening of the hips. This variation, Supta Padangusthasana 2, uses support under the outer leg of the extended leg. This support helps the body relax, which relieves sciatica. It also soothes the nerves surrounding the hip. To avoid spending long periods in the supine position, only a few minutes should be spent on each side. The reasoning is that the growing uterus crushes the superior and inferior vein cava in the back of the body, which transports deoxygenated body blood into the heart.
Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose)
Round ligament pain is a painful sharp pain that can occur in the lower abdomen or groin. This pain is a normal and common part of pregnancy. Marjaryasana and Bitilasana is a combination pose that can help ease some of the discomfort. Remember to breathe evenly during the entire movement. Exhaling will round your spine and bring the belly to the front. Inhaling will drop the stomach and the chest to the show. This is the perfect time to experiment with how your uterus changes shape. Soft and supportive blankets under the knees will help cushion joints that are extra sensitive. Slowly explore your breath and body as you practice 5-10 rounds.
Parsva Savasana (Side Lying Pose)
It is important not to block blood flow at the back. It can cause supine hypertension syndrome, which lowers your blood pressure and oxygen to you and your baby. Savasana, traditionally performed in the supine pose, is not recommended during pregnancy. Parsva Savasana is a variation that provides the same benefits without the pressure. Placing a pillow in between your legs and knees will help you keep your hips straight and prevent the side body from being compressed. You can relax and reduce environmental stimulation by placing a blanket, eyemask, or towel on your eyes. A pillow placed between your arms will help you keep your shoulders straight and promote even breathing. It is okay to sleep in this position. Practice for 10-30 minutes with awareness of your body and breath.
Remember that your body is doing a lot of work to create an environment healthy for your baby. Yoga can help you add energy to your body rather than putting more strain on it. This is a chance to take control and be a champion for your body. Spend time with your baby and explore your beautiful body.