Imagine a friend asks you to sign up for a triathlon to take place next May. The only catch is you’re not allowed to prepare. No training schedule, outdoor swims, or weekend bike rides for the 9 months leading up to the event. I’d venture to guess you wouldn’t sign up.
Many women argue that labor and delivery is the most physically and mentally intense experience that we can put our bodies through. So why would we not prepare? We’re told to indulge in ice cream and prop our feet up, but why not work also to strengthen our bodies, calm our minds, and prepare for welcoming our babies into the world?
Beyond the aspects we can see and feel, maintaining a yoga practice can actually improve birth outcomes. Women in a study in India who practiced yoga postures, breathing, and meditation saw improved birth weight and a decrease in preterm labor as compared to women who simply walked 30 minutes twice a day.
It’s best to attend a prenatal yoga class or work one-on-one with a certified instructor to ensure you are practicing safely. Prenatal classes are also a wonderful way to connect with other mamas-to-be and build a community to support your pregnancy, labor, and little one after his or her arrival.
It is important to check with your doctor or midwife before starting a prenatal yoga practice. Once you have the all-clear, get started with the following simple 10-minute sequence you can try at home (or on the beach!).
5 Yoga poses for mamas-to-be
Bound Angle Pose / Baddha Konasana
This pose is excellent for opening the hips, finding grounding, and working on deep breathing. Adding the gentle twist in the upper spine can help to create space across the chest and in the shoulders.
Tree Pose /Vrksasana
Tree pose builds strength in the legs, improves balance, and requires steady concentration. Focusing on even breaths of deep inhales and complete exhales calms the mind during the challenge of standing on one foot.
Side Angle Pose / Parsvakonasana
Side angle opens the hips and chest, stretches the spine and strengthens the legs. It’s an excellent pose for opening the body and providing relief from low back pain.
Goddess Pose / Utkata Konasana
It also opens the hips and strengthens the core muscles. See if you can stay a little longer in the pose each time you practice, working up to holding it for a full minute (the length of a contraction!).
Child's Pose / Balasana
It’s also calming and a chance to practice slow, gentle breathing. At the end of the sequence you can take a supported savasana or just sit with your legs crossed for a short meditation.
Join me this fall for Prenatal Yoga classes in DC
Thursdays 6:15-7:30pm at Circle Yoga
Disclaimer: This is an informative article and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your care provider about all exercise and health concerns during pregnancy.