Rox Does Yoga

Musings on Everything Yoga

Quick Asana Sequence for the Hugely Pregnant June 4, 2012

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:52 pm
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Here’s a simple yoga routine that incorporates the most helpful postures for pregnant women to do. This routine will take about 15-20 minutes if you give yourself time to linger in the poses that feel good. After losing my yoga mojo for a while, I did variations on this sequence three days in a row last week, and my body is feeling more like MY body than it has in a while. I also found this routine to be short enough and gentle enough to be invigorating rather than draining (which is how my former yoga practices all feel lately).

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): Take the pose with legs as wide as you need. Personally I can’t get my head all the way to the floor anymore so I rest on my elbows. A good hip opener and calming/centering pose.
  • Cat/Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana): Again, it’s fine to have knees a little extra wide here if necessary. If you’re as hugely pregnant as I am, you should still be okay to arch your back like normal in cat pose, but for cow, just come back to neutral instead of curving the spine. Doing a full cow can be uncomfortable at this stage, and you want to be able to take full advantage of this pose’s benefits in relieving back pain. Also, feel free to add some movement and circle your hips around if that would feel good.
  • Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Be gentle with yourself here, but don’t slack off. Down dog and plank are a lot harder these days with carrying all this extra weight, but you don’t want that to be an excuse for losing all your upper body strength while you’re pregnant. See if you can hold the pose for five breaths. It might help to bicycle out the feet here, dropping first one heel, then the other, towards the floor. This stretches out the calves, which is great if you get leg cramps in the night like I do.
  • Standing Forward Fold: Take your feet wider than normal and don’t even try to touch the floor. Let your upper body hang, and then slowly and gently roll up to standing. This should feel really nice to your lower back.
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Pay attention to your posture and spine here. Close your eyes and allow your mind to rest.
  • Half Sun Salutes: Move through these at your own pace, and bending only as far as you comfortably can. I found that reaching up felt really good. I’ve been doing two half salutes, but you could do four or more if you wanted to.
  • Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana): A great thigh strengthener and hip opener! If you’re not familiar with Goddess, see my previous post for more details on how to do it and why it’s good for preggos.
  • Supported Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana): Another great hip opener! Bend forward over a couch, chair, or table for some extra support. Practicing this posture can help with many basic tasks, like shaving your legs or buckling your shoes. (I thank yoga for my ongoing ability to do these mostly unassisted!)
  • Warriors: Feel free to add some warrior poses here if you feel up to it (I personally have not felt up to it lately, so no shame). Warriors (and other standing postures like triangle and side angle) build strength and stamina in the entire body. However, avoid doing twisting postures like revolved triangle while pregnant. (If you are as hugely pregnant as I am, I should not have to tell you this, because you know already that twisting your midsection just ain’t happening, but, you know, I’m looking out.) Also, with warrior poses (particularly Warrior 2), take this opportunity to check in with your posture – keep your spine straight and don’t let your belly pull you forward.
  • Supported Squat (Malasana): Come down into a deep squat, using a wall or sturdy couch at your back for support. If squatting bothers your calves or ankles, try placing a rolled blanket under your heels to elevate them. In my squats these days, I take my feet wider than usual and my tush touches the floor, which is okay. Find a way into the pose that will allow you to rest here comfortably. Squatting opens and stretches the pelvic floor, opens the hips, and builds strength and flexibility in the legs. It may also be the best and most natural position for childbirth – so practice it!!
  • Cobbler/Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana): A nice hip opener. Feel free to just sit up tall here if bending forward doesn’t work for you anymore. You can also try extending your legs out into a diamond shape rather than pulling the heels close to your body. If you experience tailbone pressure in this pose (like I do!) be really gentle with how you sit and don’t push yourself too far – it’ll make your tailbone feel worse, and you can still get the hip opening benefits just from sitting up tall. While you’re here, try some neck rolls or arm stretches – for example, some Eagle arms can open the shoulders and back. Might as well work out a few things at once!
  • Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana): I like doing this pose because, again, it stretches my calves, which are really tight, so stretching them helps to avoid leg cramps. This pose is also one of the few seated forward bends I can still manage to do, so it makes me feel good to do it.
  • Inversions: If you already have an inversion practice, you can go ahead and do one here, but if you’re not in the habit of doing inversions, skip it. For example, as of two weeks ago I could still get up into a shoulder stand, which is cool because I’ve been practicing shoulder stand for at least eight years, my body knows how to do it. I haven’t done headstand since last summer, so I would totally not try that at this point. If you’re going to do a Bridge pose, be really gentle with that – focus more on the leg strength than on the backbending.
  • End your practice with another child’s pose, or with a side-lying savasana. Or possibly a nap. We pregnant ladies need naps.
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