Prenatal Yoga

People come to yoga for various reasons. Many come for relief from physical pain, to increase strength, gain better balance, improve their posture and learn how to relax. It’s never very long before they discover that these goals and many others are fulfilled. Women often begin yoga when they are pregnant for these very reasons. The pregnant body is changing rapidly, sometimes what feels like wildly, and finding a way to rest comfortably helps women process and integrate these changes. At Yoga on High, the prenatal yoga curriculum not only includes various breath and asana practices to support the pregnant body, but it focuses specifically on helping women develop and maintain healthy, sustainable posture.

When attention to the movements of everyday living is present—such as standing, bending, sitting and lying down—they can all be restorative, rejuvenating activities, rather than being draining.

Bending over and standing back up can quickly become a challenge with a growing belly and aching back. A few simple tips can take this everyday maneuver from burdensome to benevolent, as well as helping to stretch and strengthen tight hamstrings and pelvic floor muscles. Every healthy forward bend helps prepare a woman’s pelvis for labor and delivery and encourages the optimal fetal position known as ‘Occiput Anterior’ (the back of baby’s head faces forward).

The healthy habit of bending safely also enables a woman to sit properly and comfortably, letting the pelvic bones support the weight of her internal organs and making breathing easier. To the pregnant woman, it actually feels like she has more space in the body for her abdominal organs to function normally and for the baby to grow and move. Schlumpy sitting crowds the baby and can contribute to less than ideal positions such as breech and ‘Occiput Posterior’ (also known as ‘Back Labor’ at the delivery).

2015July_Prenatal63One of the healthiest sitting positions to prepare for labor and delivery is to sit straddling a chair, facing toward the chair’s back. To do this at home, place your bottom on the front edge of the seat and lean the upper body and arms on the chair’s back. Not only does this provide relief for an aching back, it also helps the top of the pelvis tip forward so that the base broadens, which helps the hips to gently open and the pelvic floor tissues to stretch.

It is also a fabulous position for a support person to apply counter pressure to the back of a woman’s pelvis, which soothes the deep aches of the low back and pelvis during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Mary Sinclair has taught yoga to pregnant women for years, and is the co-author of the Yoga on High Prenatal Teacher Training curriculum. For more information on Mary, click here. For more information on the upcoming Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, click here. For a schedule of prenatal classes, click here.