Art by Amanda Greavette
This week is a crash course on SELF CARE. First we learned How to Eat. Now let’s learn how to MOVE. Here are three wonderful (and easy) yoga poses to practice daily during pregnancy. Three poses! You can make time for that.
Note: before beginning any exercise, please consult your midwife or doctor.
Try this simple exercise. Find a quiet room in a peaceful space. A room with natural light is best. Place a mat, towel or blanket on the floor. Roll another towel or place a pillow under your bum to tilt your pelvis forward. Place your feet together and your knees apart in a diamond-shape. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Place both hands on your belly, or one hand over your belly and one over your heart. Slow it down.
Note: if placing your feet together is too intense a stretch at first, then sit in a simple cross-legged position.
Learning to check in with yourself, your body and your baby is an incredible healthy habit to develop. Our lives are so fast, so filled with technology and noise and distraction, our days so chaotic and frenzied that it is IMPERATIVE during pregnancy to learn to slow down and listen. Once you learn how comfortable this cross-legged position can be, you will naturally favor this position. Which is so good, because this position helps open your pelvis, relax tight lower-back muscles and encourages a healthy position for your baby’s head in your pelvis during late pregnancy.
Cat, above and Cow, below
CAT & COW
- Get into all fours, on the hands and knees, like a cat or cow.
- The arms should be shoulder-width apart and knees should be hip-width apart.
- Thighs and arms should be straight and body parallel to the floor.
- While inhaling, push your butt down and curve your back up. Don’t hold the position or breadth for more than 5 counts.
- Exhale and slowly return to the normal position.
- Repeat the position at your comfort. (From My Wellness.)
If there is one pose I would have every pregnant woman do on a daily basis, it would be the squat. It may not look very graceful. Stop thinking like a lady! You might be thinking, that is impossible for me! Well, all the more reason to practice it. If you don’t learn to do it during pregnancy, there is little to no chance you will use it during labor. And squatting during labor can be one of the most wonderful, back pain-relieving and labor-progressing positions I can think of. Squatting during pushing is wonderful, too!
Sarah Fischer writes:
- “This one’s for the [birth]. Otherwise I’d never ever have it on a list of favorite poses to be honest. Squatting is one of the tried and true most excellent positions for giving birth and, it’s hard work. So during my yoga practice I like to take a dynamic approach to it. I start standing and squat way down then rise back up to standing, repeatedly, for as long as I can possibly manage it. You may notice that my heels are on the roll of my mat, that gives me a sense of grounding and keeps me safer. The motion of this dynamic squat also helps to bring the baby down deeper into the pelvis.”
A Supported Squat
Benefits to a regular “Squat” practice during pregnancy:
- Strengthens lower back muscles thereby reducing lower back pain.
- Highly effective treatment for hemorrhoids and constipation, two very common (and hated) complaints of pregnancy.
- Strengthens the pelvic bones and muscles, distributes pressure on the uterus and builds power in the abdomen.
- Strengthens thigh and leg muscles, enhancing endurance for an easier labor and birth.
- Fully opens the birth canal and avoids tearing by stretching the muscles in the pelvic floor
- Reduces the need for medical interventions such as forceps, vacuum extractors, epidurals and episiotomies by making the pushing stage more effective.
For more information and instruction, I highly recommend attending a Prenatal Yoga Class taught by a certified instructor.