Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy!
I want to share some key ideas and exercises that have helped me during my pregnancy. Every woman is different, and every woman carries differently, but the following 5 tips aim to give some basic ideas about pregnancy yoga.
Pregnancy yoga aims to calm the nervous system and focus the mind. It is amazing at preparing the body for labour and the birth.
Pre-natal yoga is a great way to relax and also keep fit during pregnancy, check out the following 5 pregnancy yoga tips.
1.Be aware of your pelvic floor muscles
Often in pregnancy and birth preparation we are told to exercise our pelvic floor muscle. You need to be aware of it in the first place – it is a ‘floor’ of muscle between your pubic bone, coccyx and sit bones. This floor holds your uterus up, as well as your bowels. It’s a key muscle to be RELAXED during labour. Most of us know how to contract the muscles to help strengthen the pelvic floor, but you need to learn how to relax this crucial muscle, see the following exercise.
Take a wide knee Child’s pose (see below) forehead to floor, hips back to heels and knees as wide as is comfortable for you. On your exhales notice your sit bones feeling wide and your pelvic floor relaxing. Let it feel broad with your sit bones. Stay here for 3 minutes or as long as is comfortable for you.
2. Let your tummy be loose
Your growing baby inside you will naturally stretch your stomach muscles. Let your tummy be loose to allow the body to naturally change shape, work with your body as it changes rather than try and fight it. One of the key things in pregnancy is to relax the belly, allow the belly to feel soft. As your belly grows, stroke it and caress it to bond with your growing bump.
Exercise: Pregnant Cat – Cow pose
Come to all 4’s on your mat and inhale lift the tailbone allow the belly to move towards the mat lift the chest and head. As you exhale tilt the pelvis down and arch the back without contracting the belly, push the spine up towards the sky, separating the shoulder blades and allowing the head and neck to be soft. Keep the belly soft throughout, and finish in wide Child’s Pose.
Some of the ailments women complain about during pregnancy could be significantly reduced if they had more awareness of their posture. When we think more about our posture, naturally we start to sit up… Sitting tall allows us to breathe onto our bellies and it give a whole heap more space to the front body. When we slouch, there is a compression in the belly – your baby is still safe in the uterus, but it affects our bodies. It gives us back ache, the neck juts forward, there is added pressure on the lumbar spine and the pelvis tilts forward. Sitting tall will also strengthen the back – and you’re going to need this once the baby is here!
Breathing into the belly is good for us even when we are not pregnant – it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. But it is especially important if you are pregnant. Belly breathing allows you to connect to the breath and the baby.
Sit tall on a cushion or bolster, place your hands on the belly and inhale, feeling the breath move the hands out. Exhale and feel the gently movement of the hands in towards the starting position. As you breath, feel the goodness of the breath reach the baby. You are breathing for two; connect to the miracle growing inside of you.
5. Nourish yourself
Pregnancy is a time to slow down; allow yourself a little more time for you. You are growing a whole human right now and that is tiring! Make sure you take time to nourish yourself. Doing things like taking a warm bath (not hot), drinking a mug of raspberry leaf tea and setting aside 5 mins to enjoy it will help you to slow down and relax. Rubbing oil or cream into your belly is a lovely way to nourish your bump. And once your bump reaches 22 weeks it can hear you, so maybe try talking or even singing to your baby so that it can start to recognise the comforting sound of you, the Mother.
I’m running a pregnancy yoga course in December and January aimed to help Mama’s keep fit and strong through pregnancy as well as learn breathing techniques for labour. Book on to the course here.