Yoga is amazing. We all know that. Yoga keeps us strong and fit, clears our mind and spirit and helps us heal. Yoga prepares our internal state for interaction with the outside world – and that is just a tiny, itty-bitty part of this beautiful thing – for anybody.
Now, imagine you have a small soul growing inside your belly. Consider how immense these benefits are! Prenatal yoga is a delicious way to connect your body, mind and baby. It’s also the most recommended form of pre-mommy exercise by OBGYNs.
Mamas-to-be and all other ladies considering pregnancy at some point in life – are you gearing up for some prenatal work? Does it sound like something worth looking into?! If you’re pregnant (for the first or fifth time!) and have not yet popped into a prenatal class, here’s what to expect! (See your healthcare provider for the “okay” before you begin a prenatal routine, of course!)
Prenatal yoga serves pregnancy in two distinct ways.
Firstly, it strengthens mama physically and mentally. In class, we move through poses that build muscle in the legs, arms and shoulders in preparation for labor, birth and then holding and caring for your newborn. We stretch out our side bodies and make room for your growing belly, which creates a comfortable place for mama and baby. Mentally, we work through our will, our drive to keep going, even when we think we have gone as far as we can. This work is normally done as a “keep-up”, a series of exercises that push our mental boundaries until we see and feel that we can go on.
Second, prenatal yoga connects mama and baby. This connection goes beyond baby’s body inside mama’s body – it dives into a deep space where an emotional, spiritual bond can be formed. Throughout class, we’re reminded to check in with baby. We’re encouraged to place our hands on baby’s home and send them love and happy thoughts. We also spend time meditating and manifesting a sacred space for baby. We imagine and focus attention on the birthing process as a special time for mom and child. All of this loving energy helps to calm and prepare both souls for a life changing experience.
Ready to jump in? Here are a few exercises that can help to prepare you for your first class. If you’re a seasoned prenatal yoga professional, these poses are the ones to do at home – everyday! And if you want to join us in a group class, check out the very bottom of this post for our upcoming classes and a free prenatal yoga workshop for our Berkeley mamas!
To get here: come onto all fours, hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide under your shoulders and stack your hips over your knees. Take a deep inhale as you tilt your tailbone and heart up to the sky, allowing your belly to melt toward the earth. As you inhale, dome and round through your spine, tuck your chin into your chest and feel the stretch. Repeat!
This is an amazing set of exercises for pregnancy (and for non-pregnant people too)! It helps loosen and stretch tight muscles throughout your back, and it cradles and “rocks” your growing baby into a safe and comfortable position for delivery. It is recommended to preform up to 40 of these motions per day!
How to get here: Stand with your legs wider than hip distance – toes directed slightly out. It’s sometimes helpful to place your heels on a rolled blanket for stability and comfort. Inhale, reach your arms up over your head, and exhale as you begin to squat, all the way down. Keep moving until you’re comfortably sitting close to your heels. Repeat this movement, deepen the breath and begin to fire up your quadriceps and hips. ***If baby is breech or mama has placentia previa – do not squat all the way down to your heels, just move halfway down. ***
Prenatal squats feel amazing! They open the hips, strengthen the legs and are very powerful. They also help move baby into optimal delivery position. Try 10-15 of these big squats per day.
How to get here: Find a comfortable position, preferably squatting on a block. Allow your body to relax and let go of any tension through the shoulders and neck. Slowly begin to inhale as you draw your pelvic floor up and in. Disengage your abdominal muscles as you lift inside, almost as though you are stopping the flow of urine. Exhale to release the contraction. Continue this way for 15-20 reps, paying close attention to recruiting the correct internal muscles.
These are your muscles for birth, mama! They will control your delivery – so work them!!
Try to set a special time everyday for a few of these exercises and meditation. Even if you have three minutes before an appointment; see if you can bring some deep breaths and maybe a kegel or two into your space.
Lastly, prenatal yoga classes are offered very frequently but if you find yourself in a typical (non-prenatal, non-restorative) class, here are a few guidelines to follow to keep you, your pregnancy and your baby happy and healthy!
- Deep twisting (We don’t want to detoxify – we want to keep everything right where it is!)
- Abdominal strengthening (Relax the 6-pack, get it back after baby!)
- Holding your breath (Baby wants to breathe too!!)
- Anything that doesn’t feel good (Pregnancy is a time to cherish and honor your body. Let yoga be a way of doing that!)
- LOVE (Let go of mental stresses and expectations and focus on love. Same goes for being in the moment and enjoying your practice.)
- Arm/leg strengthening (You’re going to need it!)
- Deep breaths!!!
Have you ever been to prenatal yoga? How was it? What did you love?! We want to know!!
(All photos courtesty of YogaJournal.com)
Manhattan Beach with Chelsea Rothert
Berkeley with Julie Anne Schlachter
Sundays from 11 AM-12:15 PM (beginning September 20th)
*FREE* PRENATAL 101
Sunday, August 23rd from 11 AM -1 PM
Learn ways to modify your yoga practice during the different stages of pregnancy. We’ll also explore breath awareness and relaxation techniques that can further assist you during childbirth. These techniques will give you the opportunity to connect more deeply to yourself and your baby. All levels welcome!
Kitchen Doula owner and prenatal yoga instructor Tali Biale will be providing delicious food, specifically with the mama-to-be in mind, for the workshop and the first 3 weeks of class!