A Bad Yogi’s Guide to Prenatal Yoga
I decided in the middle of 2016 to start my journey toward becoming a prenatal yoga instructor. Little did I know, the day after I received my official certification I would be sitting on the floor of my bathroom, curled up in my husband’s arms, crying and laughing over a pee-stick. After the initial shock wore off, my mind began to race with questions. I had just gone through six months of prenatal yoga training, but suddenly, I felt like I was back at square one.
How would my personal practice change?
Could I still teach?
Will I hurt the baby if I do (insert any posture here)?
I’d like to start this by saying, like every yoga practice, every pregnancy is different. As women, we all fit different molds. There is no one-size-fits all pregnancy or yoga practice. This is just merely a guide to a gentle prenatal practice with postures that are familiar to even the beginner. Before you start practicing, please consult with your health-care professional.
Begin in a comfortable seated position
At this point in my pregnancy, my hips and tailbone are quite tight, making lotus pose extremely uncomfortable for me. Instead, I chose easy posture, tucking one leg behind the other. For extra comfort, place a cushion or blanket beneath your sits bones and blocks under each knee.
Close the eyes, breathe deeply
At all stages of pregnancy, there is such an importance in connecting with your breath and calming your mind. If it hasn’t already, breathing becomes a little more challenging as your pregnancy progresses. Sitting in this state of mindfulness, bringing all your focus to your breath, can help you reawaken your lungs and give you and your baby a fresh, even supply of oxygen.
Cats and Cows
Slowly move yourself forward onto all fours, stacking the knees beneath the hips, and wrists beneath the shoulders. With each inhale slowly lift the gaze and tailbone, drooping your sweet bump a little closer to the mat. With each exhale curl your chin and pelvic bowl in toward your bump, rounding the spine.
From table, curl the toes under and slowly begin to lengthen the legs, bringing your hips up toward the sky. In my normal practice I like to let my head hang heavy, however, during pregnancy I have found it more comfortable to keep my head lifted, to prevent dizziness. Do not spend too many breaths here. This is a great place to stretch out your legs and transition to a standing pose, but not a great place to stall during pregnancy.
Slowly walk your feet forward and roll the spine to standing. Move slowly through a few standing Sun Salutations. During your forward folds, do not try to push yourself too deeply. I prefer to begin in mountain pose with my hands in prayer. As I inhale, keeping my palms together, I press my fingers toward the sky, lengthening the arms. As I exhale, I slowly open my arms and fold from my waist, only folding about halfway. I take a nice deep inhale here, and as I exhale, I slowly roll back to my starting mountain pose.
When you are ready, slowly walk one foot toward the back of the mat. As you lower into your Warrior stance, be mindful to keep your front knee directly over your ankle. Create as much room for your bump as you can, spreading the arms forward and back.
Extended Warrior Variation
With a block nearby, slowly shift yourself forward. Rest your front hand firmly on your block and raise your back hand toward the sky
Place both hands firmly on your block. If you’re feeling extra flexible, maybe you place your forearms on the block!
Wide Legged Fold
Slowly walk your hands toward the middle of the mat, between your legs, turning your feet parallel to the side of the mat. This is another transition pose. Don’t stay hanging here too long!
Squatting Side Stretch
From your wide fold, bend the knees deeply and place your hands firmly on your thighs. When you are steady, slowly raise the head, straightening the spine. Lower one forearm to the thigh and raise the other hand toward the sky.
Repeat this routine moving backwards through the postures, bringing your focus to the opposite side.
After you complete your second round of Cats and Cows, slowly sink into a wide legged child’s pose, making sure to leave room for your baby. DO NOT SQUISH YOUR BUMP. It is okay if your sits bones don’t sit all the way back on your heels.
Using whatever you need to be comfortable, make your way into Savasana. I prefer to prop my bolster on a block or lie on my left side with my bolster supporting my head and baby.
There you have it!! Please leave any questions about this flow in the comments below!