Prenatal Yoga: Strengthening and Opening
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- Detailed instruction on how to safely practice yoga in pregnancy
- Modifications of yoga postures to accommodate special needs
- Breathing practices to calm body and mind
- Yoga postures to reduce or eliminate discomforts
- Postures and practices that prepare the body for labor and childbirth
- Relaxation and guided visualization
- Yoga mat, blanket, yoga block or small stool, bloster or firm pillow.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Many women have found prenatal yoga to be a great support through many of the changes that pregnancy brings.
This can be a very exciting time but also a little overwhelming as you are figuring out how to take care of yourself and your growing baby at the same time. Whether this is your first or your fourth baby, self-care is an essential part of a healthy pregnancy! I have created this prenatal yoga class so you can receive all the benefits of yoga during your pregnancy.
What are the benefits of prenatal yoga?
• Builds strength and flexibility (to do the work of mothering)
• Promotes proper posture, body awareness and healthy alignment
• Reduces stress and promotes relaxation (good for mother and baby)
• Increases energy (growing a person is exhausting)
• Aids with focus (helps combat “fetal brain drain”)
• Promotes healthy circulation and reduces swelling
• Reduces or eliminates common pregnancy discomforts
Prenatal yoga can help prepare body and mind for childbirth. The prenatal yoga postures are specially designed to not only strengthen your body but to build flexibility and openness – it is just as important to create suppleness so you can open when the time comes to birth your baby. Birthing a baby requires both great effort and the ability to totally let go. We cultivate a balance of effort and surrender on the yoga mat so we can take it into labor and birth.
Last but not least…
Prenatal yoga promotes baby awareness! In the practice of yoga, you have the
opportunity to acknowledge the presence of your baby, not as a package that
will arrive at some future date or that is “delivered” to you, but as a being that
is here now. Yoga allows space to sit in the present moment, with yourself as
well as with your baby.
This program can be done in its entirety or you can do one or more of the individual lectures.
Special note: It is very important for you to listen to your body. Take rest if
needed. Come out of any posture that causes strain or excessive discomfort.
Please exercise caution in the practice. If you experience dizziness, shortness
of breath, chest pain, abdominal pain, uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding
or fluid leakage from your vagina or have history high blood pressure or any
other serious medical condition, consult your midwife or doctor. Yoga may not be appropriate for some women in the first trimester. If you have a history of miscarriage or pregnancy loss please consult with your care provider before taking this course.
Prenatal Yoga is suitable for most healthy pregnant women.
- Pregnant women in 2nd or 3rd trimester
- All levels welcome
- No experience required
Breath awareness is about making that which with is often unconscious, conscious. It can be used to focus the mind and relax the body. It is a calming practice for both mother and baby. It can be done anytime, day or night. If you are feeling over whelmed or fatigued in your day, a few minutes of conscious breathing may help calm and rejuvenate you. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, a simple breath awareness practice may sooth the restless mind and body. Breath awareness can be used in labor and birth as well. Slow deep breaths support the uterus so it can do the work of labor and helps keep a laboring woman calm and focused.
Habitual patterns and the postural changes of pregnancy can cause discomfort in the neck and shoulders. These postures are designed to relieve tension in these areas. They can be done any time of day, on or off your yoga mat. These simple stretches can be done with the prenatal yoga practice or on their own at your desk or in your kitchen. If practiced regularly the Shoulder Opening sequence can help reduce strain in the neck and shoulder area.
This sequence is designed to strengthen the
shoulders and arms in preparation for the work of motherhood. These “baby-holding prep postures” may be
very difficult at first, so take a rest if you need it. With practice you
will get stronger. By the time you birth your baby, you will be ready to hold
your sweet little one for many hours! The Rose Petal Breath can be used to support the lift of the arms during shoulder work. Many women have found this breath helpful in labor. It can be used to help let go of any tension or holding that may occur with the uterine contractions. Practice this breath on your yoga mat so you can use it in labor.
These postures reduce discomfort in the muscles that support the spine and hips. Being on your hands and knees takes pressure off the pelvis and encourages baby to rotate into the optimal birth position. Pelvic tilts and hips circles can improve circulation in the muscles of the pelvis and increase pelvic floor awareness.
The Thai Goddess pose is a very intense foot stretching posture. It helps to create suppleness in the tissue of the feet and ankles. Please take caution with this pose. If you have a foot or toe injury or resent surgery it may be best to skip this pose. One of the purposes of this pose is to work with the discomfort of the stretch. It is challenging – that’s point. How can you stay with the intensity of the sensation without tightening your body? Breath Awareness, Belly Breathing or Rose Petal breath may help you to remain soft in the body and calm in your mind as your feet open. This may be a helpful tool to help prepare for labor and birth. Sitting on your feet feels nothing like having a baby, of course! It does, however, give you the opportunity to practice using your conscious breath to support you when you are in a challenging situation.
This fun yoga sequence strengthens the back and opens the hips. Gentle twisting can release tension in the muscles that support the spine. Go only as far into the postures as feels good. If you experience any pain in the front of the pelvis at the pubic bone, don’t go so deep into the pose or skip the posture completely.
The "juicy hips" movements can help reduce tension in the hips and low back. This a great pose to do before doing to bed if you are experiencing a lot of hip discomfort at night. The hip movements also encourage your baby into the optimal for birth and can be used throughout labor.
This standing sequence is an energizing and strengthening. If you feel strain in your back during the sequence, you may need to come out of the pose or take a rest. It's always wise to work at an intensity level that is appropriate for you. If you feel discomfort in your back during the half squat sequence, this posture can be done seated on the edge of a chair. This is an energizing practice but if you are feeling very fatigued, you may wish to skip this section of the practice.
The wave squats help open the pelvis and strengthen the legs. The fluid movement encourages circulation in the muscles of the pelvis. These squats tone the pelvic floor so the muscles are both strong and flexible. It is important not to strain the ligaments of the pelvis. If you feel discomfort or pain, don’t go deep into the posture. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, you may need to skip the posture at this time.
As you come into the seated postures, it is important to maintain the natural curve of the low back. Placing a folded blanket or firm pillow under the sit bones will help prevent slumping.
In the ankle to knee posture, you should feel no strain in the ankle or the knee. Keep the feet flexed in order to protect the joints.
This relaxation with body scan visualization can be done at the end of the active yoga practice or any time you need quiet time. This deeply nourishing relaxation is good not only for you but for your baby inside of you. It is important to make time for relaxation every day. The practice can be used at the end of the day to prepare body and mind for sleep.