When I was pregnant, I constantly felt crunched. It was as if my belly was growing bigger to accommodate this gorgeous new life, but somehow my spine was getting shorter!
To combat this feeling, I focused on elongating the side body to grow taller and create space for the baby. This is what pregnancy yoga or prenatal yoga is all about—creating space for the baby to grow, space for your body to expand, space for your mind to relax and space for you to connect with your baby.
It’s also important to build strength to support the additional weight and prep for delivery. Note: Remember to get the all clear from your doc or midwife before starting and listen to your body. Here's my suggested 10-minute prenatal yoga sequence.
1. Samasthitih or Tadasana
Start off in Tadasana and begin to balance the mind. Scan your body. Notice how it feels. Deepen your breath and send energizing breath to anywhere that needs it. Focus on the meditation, “I breathe in and I breathe out.”
Feel the four corners of your feet grounding down into the Earth as it equally rebounds and supports you from beneath. Stack your shoulders above your hips. Engage the pelvic floor, suck the navel in and up, lift the knee caps and energize the crown of head. Tadasana.
2. Standing Crescent Moon
From Tadasana, inhale as you extend your arms overhead. Interlace the fingers, release the index fingers. Relax the shoulders down the back. Bend to the right and push the left hip as far left as available. Square the shoulders, square the hips.
Try to keep the biceps tights against the ears, but the shoulders down so you’re not scrunching the neck. This is a beautiful pose to open through the side body and create that length. Be careful not to overstretch – just do what is nourishing for you in this pose. It’s also a fab way to tone the shoulders. Hold for five long breaths and switch sides.
3. Utkatasana or Chair Pose
The build strength and muscle to prepare you for labour, move into chair pose or utkatasana. Squeeze the ankles, knees and inner thighs together as you sit down deeper, but shine the chest bright as you sit up taller.
Again, make this pose comfortable, but feel the sensation and heat in your quadriceps. Hold for five long breaths, straighten the legs and then return to chair for another set of five long breaths.
4. Garudasana or Eagle pose
To continue to warm up and build heat, move into garudasana or eagle pose. Modify it based on how far along you are; if you’re in your third trimester and balance is a challenge, use the wall. Or if crossing your legs is now a challenge, simply cross the arms and sit into your chair.
Often, based on the size of your belly, it can be difficult to cross the leg up high, so simply place the ankle of the lifted leg on top of the knee of the standing leg – like you’re making a figure four with your legs. Again if balance is an issue use a wall. Do what is best for you and your baby.
5. Extended Side Angle
One of my all-time favourite postures for pregnancy is extended side angle. It again lengthens the side body while building strength in the lower body to prep for delivery. Think about creating one long line of energy from the middle finger of your extended hand all the way down the side body and leg, out through the knife edge of the straight leg.
Make sure to rest your front elbow on your front knee (rather than straining to reach the floor) and use a wall to help balance that beautiful belly. Take ten long breaths in and feel the sensation and strength in your legs, and the space in your side body. Simply switch directions to work the other side.
6. Trikonasana or Triangle Pose
Straighten the bent leg and reach the bottom arm down towards your shin, or if it comfortably reaches the mat rest your fingers lightly while you simultaneously reach straight up to the sky with your top arm. Energize the fingers and breathe into the space between your ribs. Take ten long breaths, lift your torso up, pivot on your heels and switch sides.
7. Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold
From Trikonasana, lift your torso and slightly pigeon toe your feet. Engage the quads, place your hands on your hips and hinge forward with a flat back. When my belly was really big, I didn’t like to fully fold forward, so I’d keep my back flat, chest proud and gaze straight ahead. Play with what feels good for you. I found I could work my tight hips and hammies sufficiently without fully folding forward, which made me feel all kinds of crazy.
8. Malasana or Garland Pose
Heel toe the feet together until they reach hip width and slight turn the toes out. Hands to heart centre. With a proud chest, bend the knees and sit down. This opens tight hips like no other posture I know and is great for pregnancy when traditional hip openers aren’t accessible.
Hold this pose for ten breaths, or longer if comfortable. Use a wall behind you for added support and balance as your gorgeous bub growing will throw off your center of gravity.
9. Baddha Konasana
Finish the sequence with a grounding pose like butterfly. Breathe in the colour red, the colour of the root chakra. Feel yourself grounding down into the Earth and it rebounding back into you, supporting you and replenishing your security stock.
Take some time here to connect with your bub. Place one hand on your tummy and the other on your heart. If you have time take a few minutes to just be here and now. Just you and your bubba.
Hope you enjoy this sequence as much as I did when I was pregnant. Are there any others we’ve left out? Let us know in the comments!