Pregnancy is an incredibly special time in a woman’s life. Creating the life and carrying a soul inside your body for nine months gives a new meaning to motherhood. This almost makes you forget how uncomfortable it can be during pregnancy, but you can practice some useful Prenatal Yoga and Pranayama to get relief from your back pain, muscle soreness, headaches and many others. To get maximum benefit from yoga practice you must follow a sequence. Because yoga poses are always designed in such a way that one pose acts as a counter pose to another. Let’s find out some of the useful yoga practices.
1. Goddess (Utkata Konasana)
This is an amazing preparatory pose for your childbirth. It opens up your hips and groin and creates space in the pelvis. It also strengthens and tones muscles in your legs.
Position your feet about approx. three feet apart, toes facing outward. Bend both knees to enter a squat position. Raise your hands sidewise as shown in the figure, palms facing outward. Hold and breathe deeply for as long as you are comfortable. Relax and repeat the procedure for 3-4 times.
2. Extended Side Angle Pose(Utthita Parsvakonasana)
A great side body stretches to create space for your baby, this is also a wonderful preparatory pose for childbirth as it strengthens your quads and increases stamina.
Modify your typical expression by resting your front elbow on your front knee rather than reaching for the floor. This will help stabilize your body as bub grows and throws off your center of gravity.
From the Goddess position, lean to the right and place your right elbow a few inches above your knee. Extend your left arm up above your head for a nice side stretch. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable, then release back to center and repeat on the other side.
3. Wide legged Forward Bend Pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)
From the extended side angle Pose, straighten your knees back to a standing position and point your toes forward. Keep your feet out so that they are little further apart. Slowly bend at the hips, stabilizing yourself with your hands on the floor. Then, cross your arms above your head. It’s alright if your elbows don’t touch the floor at first instance; just let your torso hang. Shift your weight onto your toes and hold for few deep breaths. You can practice this pose with the support of wall for few days. One of the best yoga poses to get relief from back pain.
4. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Stand up from the Wide-Legged Forward Bend. With your legs still far apart, reach your right hand down and grab your right ankle. Extend your left arm up to the ceiling, and turn your head to look at your left hand. Hold for several breaths, then release back to center and repeat on the other side.
This is incredibly helpful for relieving backache and creating length through the side body. It is also known for its ability to reduce stiffness in the neck, tone the pelvic floor, and relieve indigestion.
5. Wide Squat Pose (Malasana)
This pose is perfect for opening up your hips and helping you find your balance.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart or slightly wider. Lower into a deep squat. Press your hands together and hold your elbows against your knees to keep them at a wide angle. Straighten your back and hold this squat position for few breaths.
Hanging out in a squat like this really opens the hips and pelvis, which is ideal for prenatal practice. It is also known to stimulate digestion and is a great stretch through the legs and back. Modify for pregnancy by leaning against a wall or squatting on blankets. This pose is only suitable until about 30 weeks.
6. Table Top Pose (Ardha Purvottanasana)
This is a great balance exercise. It stretches your back, energizes the hips, and opens up the shoulders.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart above 12 inches away from your bottom. Place your hands on the floor behind you, fingers facing away from you. Take a deep inhale and lift your hips up until your body is parallel to the floor. Look toward the ceiling, keeping your neck aligned with your spine, and hold for few breaths before lowering back down.
7. Butterfly Pose (Badha Konasana)
This pose helps to open your waist and pelvis while stretching the hips.
First, sit on the ground, bend your knees, and press the soles of your feet together. Pull your heels in as tightly to your body as you can, keeping your knees close to the floor. If your belly isn’t too big, lean forward to deepen the stretch carefully. While holding your legs at the ankles, move your thighs up and down, just like the wings of a butterfly. Do this as many times as you can, but slowly.
8. Sitting Side Stretch Pose (Parsva Sukhasana)
From the Butterfly position, extend your right leg outward, keeping the left leg tucked in the pelvis area. Reach toward your foot with your right arm and extend your left arm above your head. Hold for several breaths while taking deep breaths. Release, relax and repeat on the other side.
9. Seated Straddle Pose (Upavistha Konasana)
From the Sitting Side Stretch, extend both legs out and keep your feet toes towards the ceiling. Press your pelvis and the backs of your thighs into the floor to help straighten your spine. If you have the flexibility, walk your hands out and lean forward to deepen the stretch.
10. Modified Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matstyendrasana)
Bend your right knee and place your foot in front of and just to the outside of your right hip. Straighten your left leg in front of you. Press your right elbow to the inside of your right knee and keep your left palm behind your hips. Gently twist to the left, gazing over your left shoulder. Hold this variation of seated spinal twist for few breaths, then release. Straighten your right leg, bend your left knee, and repeat this pose on the other side.
11. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Lower your hips to the floor. Lean forward, briefly coming into a Wide Squat, and then lower your knees, shins, and the tops of your feet to the floor. Sit on your heels and place your palms on the ground behind your toes. Inhale to lift your hips up, arching your spine, coming into a variation of a camel. Relax your head behind you to stretch through your chest, holding for few deep breaths.
12. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
This pose helps to bring flexibility to the spine. It also stretches torso and neck and keeps balance throughout your body.
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Spread your fingertips on the top of your mat. Place your knees and shins hip-width apart. Centre your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward. First, move into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and look up toward the ceiling. Extend your shoulder blades and keep your shoulders away from your ears. Then, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, bring your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
As the baby grows, more pressure is put on the spine, so moving on hands and knees relieves that pressure.
13. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Practice this pose with closed eyes, listening to the sound of your breath. Sit in Vajrasana pose (bend your knees and sit on your heels). Keep your hips on your heels. Lower your head on the mat and stretch your hands forward. Press your thighs against your chest and breathe lightly. Touch your head to the ground. Focus on breathing deeply while relaxing your facial muscles.
At around 36 weeks, pregnant women are advised to stop doing inversions. The baby is moving into the birth position at this time, so you don’t want to do any poses that may alter his or her position in a negative way. To be safe, after your second semester, don’t perform any pose where you are lying on your back for an extended period of time.
Don’t do any pose that becomes uncomfortable and please take a note that Yoga is just a journey, so never force your body; just enjoy and relax! (Source & Photo Credits: Spine Correction Centre)