'Yoga' for You and Your Baby
Last issue, Valerie Albrecht presented the areas of the body to focus on in ante-natal yoga. This issue she explores these further.
I saw your face,
I touched your hand.
I held your body,
And we fell in love.
Ante-natal yoga is a special time for you to nurture yourself, understand your body, bond with your baby, and establish positive healthy attitudes towards labour, birth and motherhood. Attending ante-natal yoga with your partner can support you in this time of growth and change, and also encourage bonding and working together as a family. However, check with your doctor before beginning yoga. And make sure you are practising it in a class where you are working correctly with the poses.
When practising ante-natal yoga, it can be beneficial to encourage acceptance of the changes in your body with positive affirmations. In fact, a positive attitude toward your labour, your babys birth and the exciting and challenging role as a mother will be beneficial all round. I have suggested a suitable affirmation with each area of the body.
Feet: “I can support myself and my baby.”
These movements assist in stretching and easing tension in the whole leg, moving fluid retention in the ankles, and increasing awareness of the points of balance in the soles - as this changes due to carrying the increased weight of the baby. More muscle strength is also required to deal with the increase of weight.
1. Point toes to face and away
2. Rotate feet from ankles
3. Arch and flattening feet
Legs: “I am strong and flexible yet move lightly as a reed.”
Muscle strength is needed in the legs.
1. Stand in warrior pose
2. Tree balance pose
3. Wide leg sitting stretch (a sarong can be used in the later months as you may feel too restricted in certain positions)
Hips: “I am opening and unfolding to the joys of life.”
These poses work to help the natural softening and increased flexibility of the hips and pelvis muscles during pregnancy. They also strengthen the joints and muscles in preparation for their return to their pre-pregnant position.
1. Hip circling
2. Cradle the foot, knee and leg
3. Sitting warrior
4. Lying twist
Pelvic Floor: “I grow when I push beyond what I already know.”
These positions are excellent for breathing practice, relaxation and meditation, as well as exercising the pelvic floor muscles.
1. Sit cross legged
2. Frog sit
3. Wide leg sits
Back: “I am growing out of my spine.”
These poses will relieve backache and rest the back.
1. Pelvic tilt
2. Dog stretches with chair
3. Tall stretch with door
4. Sitting cat
Shoulders, breasts and pectoral muscles: “Life flows through me.”
Extra strength is needed in the breasts to carry your baby after he/she has arrived and during breast-feeding.
1. Shoulder circling
2. Elbow stretches
Breathing, relaxation and meditation: “I am perfectly still and peaceful and waiting patiently.”
These poses assist in keeping you centred, calm and grounded, to focus inwards and flow with your body during labour, encourage bonding with your baby and give positive visualizations for the birth of your baby.
1. Lying pose for relaxation - head and baby supported with pillows
2. Alternate nostril breathing