Pregnancy is a magical process and yet it can also be a time full of challenges. You may be someone who breezes through feeling great from the moment you discover you are expecting, or else find yourself struggling throughout your entire pregnancy with a wide array of ailments.
Pregnancy can bring a surprising myriad of strange niggles and pains as the body changes day by day and often struggles to cope with the extra demands placed on it.
Whether you've practiced before or are a complete beginner, yoga for pregnant women can really help you stay healthy and strong during the nine months whilst preparing you for the birth of your baby.
Fluid retention, back aches and pain, hip and leg cramps, sciatica, headaches, insomnia and pelvic girdle pain are amongst the conditions which can be improved or removed by regular practice of pregnancy yoga.
You can start these exercises after 14 weeks of your pregnancy. If you have any complications, injuries, or more pregnancy pains please check with your doctor or physiotherapist that it is safe for you to do yoga.
Sit cross legged or kneel and use cushions if you want to for support. Rest one hand on your baby and the other hand in the centre of your chest. Take some deep breaths (in and out through the nose) with the eyes closed and sit as tall as possible.
Feel as though you can anchor down through your pelvis into the floor and feel more space as you lift through your spine. Feel the rise and fall of the abdomen, with the breath. Feel a connection with your baby. Stay here for a few minutes, feeling the calming effects from your breathing. This first step of pregnancy yoga can be helpful for headaches, nausea and anxiety.
Stretch one leg forward, keeping the other leg bent and place one hand on the floor by the bent leg. Stretch the other arm over to a diagonal (looking underneath the arm), hold 3-5 breaths. Keep the legs as they are and change sides with the arms. Feel the space you are creating down the sides of your body. Change legs and repeat.
This can help with pregnancy pains like rib pain, and provides a feeling of more space in the last trimester.
On the hands and knees, sway the hips from side to side. Look back towards the hip as it moves to the side. After you have done this move for yoga for pregnant women a few times, start to make circles with the hips after a minute or so, change direction.
Feel the freedom you are creating in your hips and you can use these movements during labour. This is helpful for tight hips and encouraging your baby into a good position.
From all fours, open the knees a little wider and reach the hips back towards the heels. You can either make a pillow with the hands to rest the forehead on or reach the arms forward, with the forehead on the floor. Enjoy the feeling of release and the stretch through your back. This may also be helpful during your labour, for promoting sleep, relaxing, and is also good for headaches.
If you are under 28 weeks and still feel happy lying on your back, sit alongside a wall, coming to lie down, swinging your legs carefully up the wall lying on your back. Stay for a few minutes or for as long as feels comfortable. To lower back down, bend the knees, bring the knees wide to make space for your baby, and roll over to your side.
If you don't feel comfortable lying on your back any more, another helpful move in yoga for pregnant women is when you lie on your left side with a cushion or pillow between the knees. Stay here for as long as you like and relax your body and mind. Enjoy the feeling of letting go.