YOGA FOR PREGNANCY
When pregnant it can be helpful to stretch in addition to having your pelvis balanced by a chiropractor, etc. A good rule of thumb is to go to the point of discomfort in a stretch, then back off 15-20%. Hold stretches about 20-30 seconds and more if needed. Be careful of really deep postures (like pigeon and Figure 4) if you are experiencing pronounced pelvic ligament laxity. There are so many resources for Yoga stretching during pregnancy, these are the poses that I find the most useful from a musculoskeletal point of view and also in my body for my two pregnancies.
These are brief descriptions, more in-depth instructions on the poses refer to Dr. Dale Jacobson’s Guide to Healthy Living Stretch Book for sale online and at the office.
CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
Pubic Joint Stretches:
Put a spacer in between your thighs (or simply use your fists stacked one on the other) and press in for 5 seconds. Then press out against the resistance of your hands for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times. This helps to balance the inner thigh muscles that attach to the pubic area and relieve pubic joint pain.
Lay supine (on back) and pull your knees down to either side of your trunk as you hold your feet. Try to get your knees as close to the floor as possible.
Psoas stretch on block:
Put the top edge of the yoga block at the top of your sacrum just below the base of your spine. Lay down on the ground with it in that position. Bend one knee in and straighten the other leg out. On the side of the straightened leg pull the arm up straight alongside your head. Lay here for 5 mins if possible. Can use something else (I used a stack of paperbacks when I was traveling) if you don’t have a yoga block. We sell these blocks at our office. Switch sides.
CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
“THreading the needle” Seated:
This is a good stretch for opening the outer muscles attaching to the sacrum (especially the piriformis muscle)
"THreading the Needle" Supine:
Pull knee into tummy and ideally clasp hands behind thigh. If this is too much, just hold thigh up. For more stretch push elevated knee away from your head.
This is a great one for the psoas muscle and the thigh muscles. Lay on back with feet resting under bent knees. Rock knees right to the floor as you keep your feet flexed. Hold 20-30 seconds. Repeat to other side.
With your knees directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Knees hip width apart.
On an inhale: Curl the toes under. Drop the belly. Take the gaze up toward the ceiling. Let the movement in the spine start from the tailbone, so that that neck is the last part to move.
As you exhale raise the belly as you drop your head down. Repeat this series 10 times.
Optional abdominal exercise:
Belly Button to Spine. When you are in neutral posture on all fours, pull in stomach (belly-button to spine) as best as possible to activate the transverse abdominis muscle. Hold 5-10 seconds and repeat as many times during the day as possible. You can also do this seated or standing. This is perhaps the best abdominal exercise while you are pregnant and postpartum.
Round ligament massage:
It is helpful especially in the third trimester to massage the round ligaments of the uterus. You can find these as shown and press down and hold them where they are tender.
Knee on Stool:
Place one knee on middle of a stool, chair, etc. While holding onto something for balance, step forward into a lunge and drop your pelvis down towards the floor. Straighten your hips (the side of the pelvis where the leg is on the stool will want to travel up, really root that hip into the floor and pull it forward).
Extended Child’s Pose:
Widen your legs to fit your belly between and extend forward. Can rest here as long as comfortable, or at least 20 seconds.
Pigeon and forward bending pigeon:
Bend the right leg and bring the right knee to the floor outside the right hand (like into a Figure 4 position) while extending the front of the left leg to the floor. The right shin may angle back towards the left hip or be more parallel to the front of your mat, depending on your flexibility. Square the hips towards the front of your mat.
Forward Bending Pigeon: Bring the torso down into a forward bend over the right leg.
Sit on ball:
I discovered this when I was 38 weeks pregnant with my first! Find a ball (the Pinky balls are my favorite!) and sit on the floor. Sit the ball on the floor under you. Locate your tailbone with the ball and move directly to one side or the other. Don’t sit on your tailbone on the ball, move off to the side. Find a tender place and sit there for 5 mins. Move up your sacrum (remember it is an upside-down triangle) all the way up to your low back. The longer you can sit on each tender spot the better.
Side-lying on wedge:
This is just a comfy way to lay if your belly is hurting. There are special pillows, of make one out of foam or a blanket, etc. Helpful in my second pregnancy!
Lunge in 3 positions:
Bend the right knee so that it is directly over the right ankle with the right thigh parallel to the floor. Take particular care that your knee does not get ahead of your ankle, since this places the knee in a vulnerable position. Line your fingertips up with your toes. Come onto the fingertips to avoid placing too much weight in your hands. Roll your shoulder blades down your back, lengthen your spine, and bring your gaze to the horizon line. Extend from your back heel to the crown of your head.
Forward Bending Lunge:
In the lunge position, bend forward.
Hamstring Stretch lunge:
Straighten your front leg while bringing your torso up and back.