Yoga during pregnancy
If you guys have been following us on Instagram, then you all probably know that we have a new (and a very special) member joining us very soon. For those who are not aware of what we are talking about, we are happy to announce that Hema is pregnant! While there are tons of things to prepare to welcome the little one to this world, we also have to make sure that the mommy-to-be stays healthy and comfortable throughout the pregnancy. And one of the best-known ways to ensure a positive and healthy pregnancy is through practicing yoga.
During pregnancy, one often goes through a mixed set of emotions, from being extremely happy to being scared, or very emotional. One can blame it on the hormones and the changes that are happening physically. Practicing yoga plays a crucial role in making the mother fitter and stronger as the days go by, preparing her for a smooth normal delivery. Not only will practicing asanas help you stay in shape when its combined with right breathing techniques it also makes you more relaxed and happier. Regular practice will improve the blood circulation in the body tremendously, relieving one from achy joints and back pain. Being one of the safest forms of exercise, yoga has many more benefits which will describe with the below-given set of routines.
Things to remember before you start your practice:
- Only practice any form of exercise with the consent of your doctor.
- It is best recommended to practice under the supervision of a certified trainer instead of relying on online videos and tutorials.
- The first trimester it is preferable to keep things light as the body is preparing for a new life inside. The second and third trimester involves strengthening the body and reducing discomfort.
- There will be days when your body won’t accept any form of exercise, do not get anxious and stress yourself.
- Also, do not overdo or strain your body, always listen to your body and remember to do things according to your comfort level. If you feel even a small amount of discomfort, do not continue the practice without consultation.
- Make sure to keep yourself hydrated and have regular meals that are wholesome and rich in nutrients.
- Try and avoid stressful situations, surround yourselves with positive people and seek support when you feel low.
- Include meditation with soothing music, chants or guided meditation as a part of your daily routine to create positive vibrations.
- Avoid inversions, deep backbends closed twists and postures where you have to lie on the belly. Focus on creating comfort for yourself and the baby.
- Stay active by walking at least for 30 minutes a day.
- Avoid lifting heavy weights, jumping or any form extreme physical activity. Your whole focus should be on making yourself and the baby comfortable.
- Use props like chair, pillows and wall support for a comfortable practice. You can also take the help of your partner to practice asanas, making it a fun routine.
Yoga during Pregnancy:
Asanas are to be incorporated with your fitness regime mainly to stretch, strengthen the legs, hips and pelvic floors, improved blood circulation and body posture, relieve pain in the back, uplift your mood and reduce fatigue.
Tadasana/ Palm Tree Pose
Directions: Stand on the mat with feet spread apart at the hip distance and parallel to each other, ensure your feet is firmly grounded. Keep your spine erect, chin parallel to the ground and chest open and shoulders straight. Do not stick your buttocks out. Keep your arms straight on either side of the body with palms facing inside. Now, inhaling lift your arms up from the side and above the head, joining in Prayer position / Anjali Mudra. Extending the arms up, feel the stretch through the whole body as you inhale and exhale in this posture. After 10 breathes, exhale and slowly bring your arms down to the original position.
Vrksasana / Tree Pose
Tree pose is an excellent asana to strengthen the legs and improve blood circulation. As it is a balancing asana, it gives a sense of stability in pregnant women. It is ideal to take the support of the wall or a chair while practicing this asana.
Directions: Stand with both feet firmly grounded on the mat, with your back to the wall. Keeping your gaze fixed straight at a point in front of you, slowly shift the weight of your body on left foot, lift the right leg and gently place it on the inner thighs of the left leg. If it is difficult to place the foot near the inner thighs, you can also place it below the knee or near the ankles as per your convenience. Join the palms to Namaskara and place it either over the heart over above the head. Release the posture after 5-10 breathes, and practice the same with other foot.
Virabhadrasana I/ Warrior Pose I
Virabhadrasana I is a great chest opening posture which will help in realigning the spine and stretching the hips and can be practiced during all three trimesters. This asana is also very good to improve focus and steadiness.
Directions: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. With the left foot firmly on the ground, point your right foot outside and turn your body to the right. Gently bend your right knees and lower the pelvis. Now raise your arms above your head and join them to a Namaskara, giving a good lift to the chest. Do remember that the distance between the feet can be as per your convenience. Repeat the same steps on the other side.
Virabhadrasana II/ Warrior Pose II
Similar to Virabhadrasana I, this asana gives a good stretch to both upper and lower body, helping in strengthening the lungs, spine, and legs.
Directions: Placing the legs hip-width apart, turn the right foot outwards followed by turning the upper body to the right. Bend the right knee forming a right angle and lower the hips gently. Keeping the arms straight, stretch out until they are in line with the shoulders. Gaze ahead and breathe gently for 5-10 counts and release the position. Repeat the same steps on the other side.
Utthita Parsvakonasana / Extended Side Angle Pose
This asana is an excellent asana to perform during pregnancy, as it gives a good stretch to the spine, arms, and legs and strengthening the entire body. The stretch on the sides will help in toning the waist and reduce excess fat.
Directions: Stand with the feet hip-width apart. Rotating the right foot outwards, twist your upper body to the right and gently lowering the pelvis, stretch out your arms. Now slowly bend your upper body to the right by placing your right arm on the right knee. Extend the left arm upwards and lift your head to gaze at the left palm. Stay in the posture for about 5 breathes or longer if comfortable, feeling a good stretch on the left side. Repeat the same steps on the other side.
Gomukhasana / Cow Face Pose
This pose can be done comfortably standing or sitting to relieve stiffness in the shoulders, reduces backache and opens the chest to improve lung capacity. It is also a very good asana to reduce stress.
Directions: Stand firmly on the mat with feet either placed together or at a comfortable distance apart. Keeping your Spine erect, arms placed either side of the body and chin parallel to the ground. Lift your right arm above the head and fold it to bring the palms behind the shoulders. Now bend the left arm behind the back, stretching it towards the shoulder. If possible clasp the palms to give a complete stretch to the shoulders. Note: You can use a strap or a scarf to get a good stretch If you cannot clasp the palm. Repeat the steps on the other side. Similar steps can be followed by sitting in the mat or in a chair.
Marjariasana Bitilasana / Cat-Cow Pose
These poses are an excellent posture to practice to relieve the tension from the back any time of the day. As the pregnancy progresses it helps in positioning the baby in the right direction. It also stimulates blood circulation in the spine and relaxing the body and calming the mind.
Directions: Bend down on all fours with your palms firmly on the mat, keeping your spine straight. Inhaling, lift your chin up, pushing your head back and spine forming an inner curve. Slowly, exhale and pull back your chin close to the chest, bending your back outwards. Gently rock between these two poses a couple of times to release the tension in the back.
Balasana / Child’s Pose
Balasana is a very relaxing asana for both mind and body. The posture instantly provides relief when you are feeling dizzy or tired. It also reduces tension in the muscles of the spine, shoulders, and hips.
Directions: Kneel down on all your fours, bringing the feet together, spread the knees apart creating a space between them. Gently bend forward so as to touch your forehead to the floor. Stretch your arms above the head with palms facing down. Take a few gentle breathes in position to rest and recuperate. Note: You can use a pillow in the front to rest the forehead.
Malasana / Garland Pose
Directions: Squat on the mat with your feet hip distance apart, with toes pointing outwards, as much as possible. Place a block/ pillow below the buttocks to provide support, if necessary. Widen the knees to provide space for the belly. Join your palms into a Namaskara in front of your chest with your elbows giving a push to the hips. Stay in the position breathing deeply for about 5 seconds.
Vajrasana / Adamant Pose
During pregnancy, women often face digestive problems like acidity, indigestion etc., Sitting in Vajrasana will stimulate blood circulation in the pelvic and digestive area thus aiding in digestion. This asana can be practiced post meal as well.
Directions: Kneel down on the mat with your toes together and heels apart creating space in between. Gently place your buttocks between the heels, keep your spine erect and head straight. Placing your palms on the thighs, gently close your eyes (optional), and take a few gentle breaths.
Baddhakonasana / Butterfly Pose
This asana is excellent for women in general. It not only stretches and strengthens the hips and thighs (aiding during the delivery), relieving your back pain but also helps in improving the health of the reproductive system. Few seconds into this posture, the happy hormones endorphins are released, calming the mind and reducing fatigue.
Directions: Sit on your buttocks on the mat with legs stretched in front of you. Gently bend the legs at knees bringing them closer to the perineum as much as possible. Join the feet together forming a Namaskara and clasp them with both hands, while keeping your spine erect the whole time. You can either close your eyes in this position or gently lie down on the back and rest for a few seconds. If it is difficult to bend both the knees together, you can also practice folding one leg at a time while keeping the other one straight.
Parvatasana / Mountain Pose
Parvatasana is a great posture to improve the flexibility of the hips and gives relief from backache. It is also helpful to improve the posture, which is a concern as you the pregnancy progresses.
Directions: To begin with you can either sit in Vajrasana or cross-legged (Sukhasana). Keeping your spine erect, head straight, chin parallel to the ground. Inhaling raise both arms from the side and join the palms above the head. After taking a couple of gentle breathes in the position, exhale and release the posture.
Yastikasana / Stick Pose
Yastikasana is an excellent posture to give an overall stretch to the body and relax them simultaneously.
Directions: Lie down on your back with legs fully extended, arms beside the body. Inhale and slowly raise arms in a semicircular arch and bring them above the head. As you stretch your arms, point your toe outwards, giving a gentle stretch to the legs too. After 2-5 seconds come back to the original position.
Shavasana / Corpse Pose
Every practice session should end with a well-deserved relaxation asana to cool down the body and calm the mind completely. 2 minutes of this deep relaxation technique will instantly boost your energy making you feel revitalized
Directions: Although this asana involves lying down on your back, during pregnancy (second and third trimester), it is not advisable to do so as it puts pressure on the vena cava vein, which carries blood to heart from the lower body. In this case, you can either lie on the left side (ideal position during pregnancy), place a pillow between the knees and below the head to make it comfortable.
Pranayam during pregnancy
Practicing yoga is not just limited to doing asanas, it also mainly involves controlling our breath, which is the fundamental source of life force. Practicing Pranayama is very beneficial to pregnant women in a number of ways. It improves the blood circulation, calms the mind, reduces stress along with the removal of toxins from the body. Apart from this, it is also said to aid the mother in normal delivery through deep breathing techniques, which is slow long inhalation and exhalation.
We hope the post on prenatal yoga was helpful for all the gorgeous mummy to be’s out there. Like we mentioned at the beginning of the post do consult the doctor and practice under the supervision of an expert. Do leave your thoughts on these prenatal asanas and we would love to hear your suggestions and recommendations in the comments below.