The following is a student blog post by Anfisa Grigorova,
Yoga for the most common physical issues of pregnancy!
Many women start to practice yoga for the first time while they are pregnant! This is the time when body needs more attention and care: weight gain puts extra pressure on the spine, nerves, discs and blood vessels; the center of gravity shifts and postural alignment is compromised causing stress to the lower back, pelvis, hips. Besides, the hormone relaxin softens ligaments of the body what can cause instability, muscular strain and pain! Yoga is a really great tool to support and improve not only your body, but also emotional and mental state! However, today we will focus on physical and therapeutic benefits of yoga! We have prepared for you some easy, but very efficient poses, which will help you to ease the most common problems while pregnancy! Please note that before you start to practice, it should be approved by your doctor and further, by your own feelings! At home or in class – It has to be pleasant and relaxing!
Now, lets have a look at the problems and the asanas…
1. General lower back pain
This is the problem number one, common even for yoga mums! The reason it comes is that your belly is growing and pulling your lower back to arch more and more. Disks between your lumbar vertebras become compressed and it can be very uncomfortable! It is possible to relive the pain and improve your posture by strengthening psoas muscles that responsible for keeping your lumbar spine on its best place!
Tadasana, or “Mountain pose”
- Stand straight and find your tail bone tucked in, so that the arch of your lower back is minimum!
- Open your shoulders and imagine your back long! See if you can lengthen it even more from the root of your spine to the crown of your head!
- Draw your tail bone in and your head up, towards the sky!
- Take 5 rounds of calm and long breaths! How does it feel? What has change in your body?
- Catch every sensation, stay attentive to body for a few moments, observing your breathing and your lower back!
Utkatasana, or “Chair pose at the wall”.
- Find a wall lean against it and slightly bend your knees!
- Find your entire spine in contact with the wall, take your shoulder blades closer to each other, opening your heart center!
- Keep your lumbar spine at the wall-observe the sensations in your body!
- Stay in the pose for 5rounds of breath!
Arda Ado Mukha Svanasana, or Half Down facing dog.
- Take a chair, or something that you feel comfortable to lean on!
- Put your hands on a top of a chair, step away to have some space between you and the chair(tree, wall…) step your feet apart from each other, to have some space between your thighs, straight your shoulders and legs and gently bend forward!
- Do not drop your back, try to keep your spine straight! Lengthen it, sending energy from your tailbone to the crown of your head, from your head even more foreword!
- Breathe steady and slowly for 5 rounds!
It does not matter if your hips sore from the luck of movement or, the opposite, after long walks – it all requires gentle stretching of muscles around your thighs, hips and pelvis! Before we go to asanas, I’d highly recommend you to skip wearing any kind of pants and trousers, tight leggings – all what would prevent your natural hip swaying when you walk! I know, for some women it hard to do, but it’s the best way to keep healthy blood circulation around uterus and entire pelvis, which is so important while pregnancy!! Only this might be enough to free your hips from ache!
Classic pigeon pose, or a chair variation!
• From sitting position slowly bring one leg back and extend it, the other leg is bended and heel is touching the other side hip!
• Breathe deeply and focus on stretching point of your body! Do not allow any pain or strong discomfort!
Chair variation of the pigeon!
- Sit on a chair, put your right ankle on top of your left thigh! Make sure your right ankle is flexed to protect your knee!
- Make sure your weight is equally shared between you left and right sit bones!
- Stay here for 10 breaths and then do the same on the other side!
- If you have one of your hips aching more – then start exercise with the aching side and repeat one more time after you stretch the non-aching side!
Baddha Konasana or Butterfly pose.
- Sit on or the floor on your mat or towel, make sure your siting bones are even!
- Bend your knees and bring your heels and toes together, opening your thighs to the sides!
- Keep the pose for 10 rounds of breath!
Malasana, or Hindu squat
- If you have never practiced squatting before– ask somebody to assist you, also you can try to squat next to the wall: to have some support, if needed!
- Draw your tailbone in and make your spine tall and straight!
- Take5roundsofbreathhereandexhaletrough your mouth!
!Do not practice the squat at last weeks of your pregnancy if your baby is in breech position! Squats open
pelvic outlet, it might make your baby engage lower down! As we still hoping that baby will turn, we need to keep the space around the baby! Try half down dog instead that was introduced above, it a great pose to free your sacrum from compression same like in squat, but it also will generate more space, so that baby might turn!
3.Liquid retention, or Edema
That is common problem for late pregnancy, however you can practice the exercises below any time – it is great series to lubricate joints, to energize, increase blood circulation and get rid of bad mood! Moreover, this exercises will help you to improve digestion, free excess “wind” element from the body, ground down and release anxiety!
Pawanmuktasana or joint freeing series.
1. Ankle rotation (to the left and to the right 8 times)
2.Ankle Flexion/Extension 8 rep.
3.Knee flexion/ extension.
Bend one knee and then bring your straight leg back to the floor – repeat 8 time with each side! For some women it is easy and quite nice for some – not enjoyable and hard! Feel your body and listen what is asking you to do!
4. Rocking baby pose. Rock your leg, like a baby, from side to side to lubricate and gently awake hip muscles and tendons.
5. Shoulders rotation.
Move your shoulder circling forward and
backwards – 8 rep to each direction.
6. Ear to shoulder. Bring your left ear to left shoulder and then right ear to right shoulder, move slowly but with a sense of flow so that your neck muscles get nice warming feeling.
Follow this illustrations, try to connect movements with breathing: moving up – inhale, moving down – exhale! Repeat every exercises minimum 8 times for each side and each direction! We start Pawanmuktasana practice from toes all the way up to your head. But if you past you 40 week, practice this series starting from your head and neck all the way down to your toes – like this you will redirect the wind element in your body from up to down what will help to you and your baby do not overdue!
For more benefits and maximum safety, practice gently and go in and out of each pose slowly, with no rush! It is great if you have your partner helping you, and its also nice to take time alone and focus on your body sensations! Enhance your practice by creating a cozy atmosphere, candles and music! Anything that does not feel good should be avoid! Remember that you practice for your own comfort and health, there should be no concept of achieving or performance! Take your time, listen your body and your baby and enjoy! Namaste.
Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher
RYT 200h and RPYT 60h
“I was growing with an idea that pregnancy is kind of nice, but mostly hard experience: it makes you feel aches, gain a lot a lot of weight and even leave injuries in your body that you will never be able to recover! A lot of woman in my surrounding had problems with spine, vision, excess weight, issues with knees and sciatica!
Now then I am a yoga teacher I see that with a little bit of knowledge we can support body that will make you feel better not just in future but right after the practice! ! You are able to help your body with challenging part of pregnancy, so you can focus on the miracle part of it”
Follow my youtube channel and Instagram, I share a lot of useful information for women, mums-to-be and new mother!
(It is in Russian though)))