Pregnancy is the perfect time to indulge in some all important self-love. Whether it’s soaking in the tub, getting a massage, or practising restorative yoga, you’ll not only revive your energy and spirits, but you can also feel good about the fact that your baby-in-utero will also be reaping the benefits!
These days it’s fairly well known that stress may adversely affect the development of a foetus. It’s not surprising then that many doctors and midwives routinely recommend yoga to their antenatal patients.
Pregnancy can be a time when feelings of anxiety may arise as you prepare for a new, unknown direction in your life. Yoga, especially restorative yoga, helps to support and strengthen your nervous system and that of your developing baby’s. A regular restorative practice helps induce the ‘relaxation response’ which counteracts your ‘fight or flight’ or ‘stress response’, promoting feelings of wellbeing and making you more resistant to the negative effects of stress.
Here are some pregnancy restorative gems:
Supported Prasarita Padottanasana with chair and wall
Have your feet out a few inches from the wall, sit-bones resting on the wall. Keep the sit-bones pressed up and into the wall as you bend forward from the hips to place your hands and then your forearms onto the seat of chair in front. Fold the arms and rest the forehead onto one forearm. If necessary, place a higher support on the chair such as a folded blanket or bolster to make sure you can rest in the pose with ease, without rounding the spine.
The spine should be long and shoulders relaxed. Keep pressing the buttock bones into the wall, which tends to enhance the lengthening effects on the spine and hamstrings in this pose. Stay here for up to 5 minutes.
Benefits: This is a cooling posture, as the head is supported on the forearms and the heart is lower than the rest of the body, providing the benefits of slight inversion. Also, because the legs are wide apart it helps to open the hips and pelvis, stretching the pelvic floor. It can also help alleviate aches and pains in the lower back.
Supported Supta Virasana with inclined bolster
Set up a bolster so it is inclined (ie: one end is higher than the other). It can rest across another bolster as pictured, or one end can be raised up on a block or folded blanket. Sit in kneeling ‘virasana posture’ (buttocks sitting between the heels, feet pointing backwards) and lower yourself slowly along the bolster, tucking your buttocks under to SuptaVirasana lengthen your lower back as you do. Let your arms rest to the side, palms upper-most and relax and soften back into the support. Have the knees together or slightly apart. Breathe deeply here for up to 10 minutes. Do not stay in the pose if pain develops in the knees or the lower back.
*Note: if you you have any pain or discomfort in the lower back or sacrum make sure you have a little distance between your buttocks and the bolster, and come out if discomfort or pain continues.
Benefits: This is a wonderful digestive pose, which may ease the discomfort of heartburn and abdominal over-crowding during pregnancy, helping create a feeling of more space in the torso for both mum and bub. It also lengthens the muscles of the quadriceps (front of the thighs) and hip flexors, releasing tightness in the lower back caused by increasing lumbar lordosis (arching of the lower back). The chest-opening effects of this pose also facilitates deeper breathing, calming the mind and the nerves.
Raise one end of a bolster on a brick or another bolster so it is inclined. Lie back along the bolster and place another bolster or rolled blanket under the knees. In late pregnancy, of if not comfortable, you can always prop yourself up higher with a (lengthwise) folded blanket, or two, on top of your inclined bolster.
For a completely luscious posture, you can also have folded, lengthwise blankets to rest the forearms onto (see photo).
Have an eyebag on your eyes and allow yourself to drop into a deep, supported relaxation, breathing gently and naturally. When you are ready to come out the posture, gently roll to one side
Benefits: This posture offers a wonderful, safe prenatal alternative to lying flat on the back for Savasana. It opens the chest to facilitate deeper breathing and release tight upper back and shoulder muscles. It helps create additional space in the torso and uterus – which increases comfort levels for mum and bub.
Restorative Yoga is a key tool that is explored in the Bliss Baby Yoga Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training Course, which shares how yoga can be used to support and rejuvenate your pregnant students. Ana has also created a beautiful Prenatal Restorative Yoga video that is an excellent resource for prenatal yoga teachers as well as an inspiring practice video for pregnant students.
If you would like to delve deeper into Restorative Yoga practices, for all students, we also offer an Online L1 Restorative Yoga Teacher Training course, which introduces this subtle yogic art and the basics in practising and teaching Restorative Yoga postures and sequences.