Month: September 2016

 

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If you’ve ever taken a yoga class you’re likely familiar with the concept of being present. Focusing on the here and now. It’s something we yoginis strive for, and it’s not always easy.

 

In pregnancy, trying to be in the moment can be especially meaningful, and even more challenging. Pregnancy is a time of looking to the future. Of planning and daydreaming. Of anticipating what baby’s next week of development will look like and what it will mean. Sometimes, we have screening or test results that we’re anxious about. It can be hard to stay in the moment with so much pulling us away from it.

 

But it’s important to try, because always looking to a time outside of the present robs you of the sweet moments of your pregnancy. Those kicks that remind you that you’re carrying a tiny human being. The tightening of your belly that lets you know that you’re getting closer to birthing your baby. The quiet moments where you talk to and connect with your baby. These are the things that bring you right into the present.

 

Here are some ways you can create these moments in your pregnancy:

 

Journaling

 

Once a week, write down your thoughts and feelings about your pregnancy. Tap in to how you're feeling in that moment. Each week reread the previous entries and compare how you feel now to how you felt then.

 

Create a morning or bedtime ritual 

 

Before you get out of bed, take a few extra moments in the morning to be present with your baby. Say good morning to your baby, and talk to him, or simply turn your awareness to your little one. Or, if nighttime works better, before bed lie down and be quiet with your baby. Inwardly listen to your baby and notice any thoughts you may have. If you’re far enough along to feel baby moving, pay attention to that.

 

Breathe

 

Each day spend some time bringing your attention to your breath. Let your breath be long and deep. Direct your breath to your belly and to your baby, and imagine your breath surrounding baby with whatever feels right - love, protection, peace.

 

Body Scan

 

At least once a week, lie down and notice bring your awareness to the different parts of your body. Notice how they feel, notice your perception of these areas. What spaces feel noticeably different during this pregnancy? Subtly different? What feels the same? Start at your toes and work your way up to your head, remembering to also include your mind and thoughts in this check.

 

Yoga

 

Prenatal yoga is an amazing way to be present in your pregnancy. Every pose you move into, every stretch you hold is done with consideration of your pregnancy and your baby. A woman is in a highly intuitive state during pregnancy, and she is able to more easily notice what her body is feeling and telling her, and she is more ready to respond to this information. A prenatal yoga practice is time specifically for your baby and you to be present in your pregnancy.

 

Take time out of your day to memorize these sacred moments, and to be present in your journey as a mother. Let yourself savour where you both are, right now. Tomorrow will be different. Next week your baby will be at a new place in their development. You will be different, you’ll have already learned more. But in this magical moment, it’s just the two of you.

It’s no secret that our backs take a beating during pregnancy. From the extra weight of baby to our sense of gravity shifting, it’s no wonder that most women have backaches at some point during their pregnancy. It’s one of the most common reasons why women take prenatal yoga - to find some relief!

 

So here they are, my go-to poses for helping that tender back to feel better. Tried and tested through my own three pregnancies and numerous years of teaching other pregnant women.

 

 

Cat Cow

This is one of my all-time favourite poses during pregnancy. The hands and knees position takes the weight of baby off your back (bliss!) and the movement not only feels good but also provides very gentle abdominal toning.

 

How to do:

 

Come onto all fours with your knees under your hips (a bit wider than hip-distance is okay, too) and hands under your shoulders. If your knees feel tender place a blanket underneath them. As you inhale lift your chest, and as you exhale relax your head down and round your spine. Repeat as many times as feels good.

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Hip Circles

 

This is another nice one. You still have the weight of baby off the back, and, as with any hands and knees position, you have the benefit of encouraging baby into a nice position (back to belly). Note: if your wrists start to bother you while on all fours, try coming onto fists or fingertips.

 

How to do:

 

Come onto hands and knees, let your head relax down, and slowly begin to circle only your hips in one direction. When you feel ready, switch and go in the other direction a few times. Come back to centre and begin to circle again in that first direction but this time let your entire body move. Close your eyes and let your body move in the way that feels best. Let the movements be bigger. Maybe bring the hips down to the heels in child pose, maybe bend the elbows and get into some of the muscles in the back or shoulder. As long as it feels good you’re doing it right. Reverse direction.

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Seated Cat Cow

 

I like this because it's feels good on the back, loosens stiff muscles and can be done sitting on a chair or floor, making it more accessible.

 

How to do it:

 

Sitting with legs crossed, rest your hands on your knees. As you inhale, rock forward on your sitting bones (bones under the bum) and lift your chest. As you exhale, rock back, and round your spine and drop your chin. Continue with these movements and let your breath lead the way.

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Standing Hip Circles

 

Like the all-fours version, this is a nice way to release tension and discomfort in the low back. This pose has the added advantage of gravity which makes it great to do during labour to help dilate the cervix.

 

How to do:

 

Stand with feet hip-distance (or a bit wider) apart. Place your hands on your hips and begin to circle just your hips. Let your knees have a soft bend, and switch direction when ready. Next, circle in the first direction again, and let the movements be a little bigger, a little more free. Tune into your body and move in the way that feels good. Switch direction again when you like.

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Standing Cat Cow

 

Can you tell I love cat cow?? This one feels good, relieves the back and doesn’t require you to get down onto the floor so you can do it anywhere.

 

How to do:

 

Stand with your feet the distance apart that feels best and bend your knees. Sink your bum down as though you’re going to sit down onto a chair, and place your hands onto your thighs. Like the all-fours version, inhale and lift your chest. Exhale and round your spine. Repeat as many times as you like.

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Pregnant woman doing yoga

Congrats! You’re pregnant and have an amazing journey ahead of you. Whether you’re a long-practicing yogini or brand spanking new, you may be wondering what the big deal is with prenatal yoga? Why not just take regular yoga classes? Or why bother with yoga at all?

 

Prenatal yoga is great for many reasons. On the physical level, it’s an excellent form of safe exercise for pregnant women. It helps to stretch the muscles, soothe discomforts in your rapidly changing body and get your body ready for birth. But just as importantly, prenatal yoga helps you to relax your body and mind, connect to your baby and mentally prepare yourself for birth and beyond.

 

I like to remind the women in my prenatal classes that prenatal yoga is different from “regular” yoga. The entire class is built around creating a space where they feel welcome, can meet other moms, and talk and think about topics relating to this unique time in their life. A space where they can be completely present in their pregnancy and their bodies.

 

The time that we spend sharing our bodies with our babies is so very short. Prenatal yoga is one of the ways that you can celebrate and embrace this very special time. And maybe (hopefully!), while doing so, create a life-long habit of taking care of yourself.