Yoga is a fantastic exercise to bring awareness to your body and movement, particularly when pregnant. Seek medical advice and clearance before commencing yoga if you are pregnant. Doctors generally don’t recommend taking up a new form of exercise during pregnancy. If you are cleared to exercise and start yoga when you are pregnant, my recommendation is to go to tailored pre-natal yoga classes. Here are some gentle yoga poses that may help to relieve strain in your muscles during your pregnancy. Remember:
- Get medical clearance before commencing yoga if you are pregnant
- Be gentle
- Modify your poses
- Listen to your body and don’t strain yourself
1) Cat Pose — Marjaryasana and Cow Pose — Bitilasana is a particularly helpful exercise for pregnant women because it releases muscle tension in the back and shoulders. Women are carrying extra weight in their back and shoulders in pregnancy and this pose is also mentally calming and gentle. Back pains are common in pregnancy so it is a great release and spinal warm up. The pose can also be modified with blankets under the knees or by placing forearms on a bolster so that you feel supported and don’t have any kind of pain as you bring awareness into your breathing and the movement of the spine. Another key benefit of this pose is that it prepares your body and your baby to get into position for child birth (Oh Baby Fitness, 2018).
2) Child’s pose – Balasana – is a resting pose and enables pregnant women to bring awareness into breathing and stretches and elongates the upper arms, shoulders, back and ankles. Women are able to release their hips. Emotionally this pose is great because it releases stress and anxiety. I would encourage my students to bring their knees apart and wide so their stomach is not compressed and then bring a bolster to rest their forearms on for support. Child’s pose can also help to relieve nausea and morning sickness.
3) Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana 2 is an excellent standing pose that does build strength in the legs and opens up the hips. Hips can get particularly tight when you are pregnant and women may potentially move less because of extra weight. Virabhadrasana and the modified pose can build confidence as women tune into the strength of their feet, legs and torso and feel themselves strong in this pose. The pose brings awareness into movement and tall spine alignment and how to move carrying extra weight and aligning the centre of gravity. Modifications include resting the leg that is forward on a chair for support and adjusting the knee bend. Pregnant practitioners can pull back on their knee bend so they don’t put too much weight on the foot facing forward and in front. This is physically and strong and grounding pose which translate into mentally feeling strong and solid which is imperative in pregnancy when there are huge physical and hormonal changes that have the potential to unsettle mothers. Warrior 2 gives a sense of grounding, centreing and mental clarity.
Where can you go for pregnancy yoga classes?