* Please note: none of the yoga asanas or practices described in this post are to be done without prior consultation with your doctor or/and under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor.
When I entered my seventh month, I started to feel like I needed to slow down a bit from the variety of sports I was doing during my second trimester 🙂
I felt like walking more slowly than usual and I felt tired if I did my 3 miles, and cycled as well on the same day… My belly started to complain a bit at the end of the day and I felt like I needed a more relaxed way of life.
Less walking, more stretching
First of all, I started to walk every other day, and on my days off I started attending a yoga class for pregnant women. I could always have done yoga at home, but if you want to be serious about it, you need a teacher. That’s for sure.
The most important part of class is breathing practice and stretching. That’s so important for carrying a baby and delivering it safely; you can’t overestimate it.
Yoga classes for pregnant women
This isn’t fitness yoga in a gym. It takes place in a yoga center which I’ve been attending for more than ten years (with short breaks), and it’s something which has helped me so much during my life.
I love that feeling of being strong and relaxed. That’s what yoga gives me – especially while I’m pregnant.”
Yoga for pregnant women focuses on three aspects: physical health and preparation for the delivery, mental health and coping with the associated stress and new role, and women’s spiritual development, which, for me, is the most difficult and interesting part.
Physical: preparation for the birth through Stretching, Strength and Breathing
Stretching is of huge importance to the baby’s delivery: not surprisingly, women’s bodies produce a lot of that flexibility hormone during the last months of pregnancy.
Stretching takes away the discomfort of pregnancy and prepares the body for labor.
We performed different asanas that helped to stretch the lower part of the body and enhance the energy circulation there.
Kali asana is the ultimate yoga position for birth. We practice it a lot during the last trimester and it’s actually the pose I used when I gave birth to my baby. This asana is the squatting position and of great use both during the last months of pregnancy and the later stage of birth
Stretching my back: bridge pose and backbend
This one is not extreme but very powerful. By making a half bridge you create a lot of space inside your belly for your baby: each time I felt like he was starting to move around and play inside me – never during the asana but almost every time after it. I stayed in a half bridge for a while before slowly going into an inverted pose.
Inverted pose – Shoulder stand
This is called Sarvangasana, the queen of yoga positions and a pose for every part of the body. It has numerous benefits, the most important for me is the reverse effect of gravity. I felt so good after it! My exhausted leg muscles and all my lower parts were relieved.
Following on from the half bridge, this is a logical and very natural continuation of the previous asana. I held my spine with my hands and tried to create a straight line from the back of my head to my toes.
Again, it made the baby inside me turn and enjoy standing on his feet. For me, it stretched my spine and took the weight off my belly.
Strength – being a mom requires you to be strong – this I can tell you for sure.
To deliver a baby, you have to be physically strong.
To nurse a baby and help your child to grow, you need to be even stronger.
Arm Strength – Women hold the family and the house in their hands – this is why strong, beautiful, sporty arms are so desired by women. Yoga asanas make your arms stronger. Other special asanas are aimed at relaxing the palms – this is a very important thing as the palms get very tired from all kinds of burdens: work, housework, caring for the kids… Massaging your palms, and special exercises for the palms and fingers make the palms more flexible and agile.
Stomach Strength – The bump will soon be gone and we need to get those muscles back in shape.
By doing special dynamic asanas, we strengthen our stomach muscles, preparing them to hold a bump and then go flat again.
Pelvic Strength – Well, there’s no doubt about the importance of these muscles in women’s lives. For the delivery, recovery and so on, we have to keep them in good shape.
Special vaginal exercises and so called “root locks” better prepare the muscles for the hard work of labor.
Interestingly, if you learn how to hold the vagina lock and do it during the day, you’ll feel also less tired overall. Locks help you keep your energy for longer.
Eye Strength – Why the eyes? We performed special eye exercises, which apart from helping keep the vision sharp, brought a lot of mental relief. We all spend too much time at our screens, which makes our eyes tired. By doing simple eye exercises I could feel my tiredness melting away. I felt the tension leave my eyes which made my thoughts clearer. It was so simple and amazing I don’t why it isn’t taught at schools:
Eye aid trick – Vigorously rub your palms together: press them very tightly and rub them intensively for at least one minute. Quickly put them to your eyes, crossing your little fingers on the bridge of your nose. You will feel the warmth on your eyes. Breathe and relax your eyes: they are closed and you can see only absolute blackness. You are immersed in it. Absolute darkness is very useful for the eyes and for your weary mind. Stay in this position indefinitely. Observe the blackness. Open your eyes; see how good it feels.
Mental exercises included a relaxed attitude, contemplation and consciousness
Breathing practice in the third trimester
At the end of the day, I always try to lie down on my yoga mat and do some basic relaxation and breathing practice.
I won’t describe it here, as to start them, you need to be under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher. I can only say that even taking 15 minutes to do the simplest breathing practice – like nadi-shodhana – will bring your emotional and mental condition to another level. You feel so calm and relaxed, like you’ve just had a day at the spa.
Approaching the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, I started to make my breathing sessions even longer, doing 30 minutes of daily, deep, relaxed breathing. The anxiety that is common for women in the last months of pregnancy vanished.
Spiritual development: women’s role, self-caring and love
The woman is the queen of the family
The woman is number one at home – the center of this little universe.
The husband and kids depend on the emotional and physical welfare of the mom.
An energetic, relaxed, calm mom works miracles for her family
Her kids are growing strong and healthy and feel secure, her husband loves her and feels like he has a treasure to keep, hold and protect.
At the yoga classes, we learned some simple tricks that help save a woman’s energy and make her feel like a queen, despite the fact that having a baby is hard work and you will probably have to take a break from your career, too.
How to make yourself feel like a queen
If you take care of your mental and emotional energy, your body will follow.
What woman’s face is the most attractive? Very beautiful? Young? Nope. Just relaxed. A relaxed face communicates inner calm, strength, self-esteem and health – the most attractive mix.
Deep breathing techniques and meditation help to relax the facial muscles. And there’s a great side effect – fewer wrinkles!
Palms and feet: energy and a sharp mind
The palms and the feet are important centers of emotional and mental energy. So when you feel tired or emotionally exhausted you should give yourself a little foot/palm massage. It will help you smile at the world again!
I do palm exercises in the morning to boost my energy and take away sleepiness.
The foot massage is vital for me in the evening after a busy day on my feet. I use special Ayurveda cold oil for my foot massage.
I love spinning yoga stone balls in my palm: this is a great exercise to do before meditation. I usually do it in the morning to prepare myself for the day. It develops the fingers, makes them more flexible and also calms the mind and makes it peaceful.
Elbows and Hips: relaxation and “feeling grounded”
The elbows are responsible for feeling relaxed and relieving stress. To achieve that, you have to keep your elbows relaxed during meditation and yoga asanas.
The hips – they don’t lie. The hips are energetically responsible for how sure and stable we feel in our lives. Stretching is the best exercise here, along with walking.
Sirsasana – Standing on your head
I used to stand on my head by myself quite often (it provides a powerful energy boost, and takes the load from my tired legs and spine).
Again, under the supervision of my yoga teacher and after a consultation with my gynaecologist, I continued to do this while pregnant. Basically, it can be done until the very last day of pregnancy.
I think the baby inside me was wondering what it would be like to stand on his little feet 🙂
In the last weeks, he already had his head low down in my belly. The key to success is to get in and out of the Sirsasana really slowly, otherwise you will do more harm than good.
Image text – Sirsasana develops the body, disciplines the mind and broadens the horizons of the spirit.
Sirsasana strengthens the spine, improves blood circulation, stops water retention, prevents infections, maintains hormonal balance, lubricates the reproductive passage, and maintains emotional and mental balance. Sirsasana is indeed very helpful during pregnancy!
Walking while pregnant
By month eight, I started to adjust my precious habit of daily walking to something that better suited how my body was feeling: walking less, walking slower and doing it only every other day.
I also felt the need to choose calmer, greener areas for my walks. I’m lucky to live by the sea, so I took twice-weekly trips to the sea coast: walking, lying down for relaxing observations, breathing and so on.
My slow-down correlated with the fact that pregnancy is a time for yourself, a time to say:
my job is to rest!
and this was reflected in my attitude to walking.
I knew that moderate speed was good for me at this moment, so I did between 3 and 4.5 miles but kept my speed slow.
In the very last weeks, starting from week 37, I started feeling like my baby was moving lower in my bump, making me walk more slowly naturally. I started doing around 3.8 mph instead of my usual 4.2 mph.
It really helped me to feel stronger and calmer. Then I stretched deeply, taking the time to lie down for a rest or have a longer stretching session at the end of my walk.
Oh, I almost forgot: I usually took a dip in the sea at the end of my walks. No matter what time of year it is, I feel the need to do it and it feels so great.
I know that after 40 minutes of walking, I will be smiling without realizing it and all of the annoying thoughts will have melted away. Why is that? I don’t know, but this meditative walking beside the sea has a healing effect.
Pregnant women tend to worry a lot and experience emotional swings – this I know for sure. To fight trouble sleeping and stop worrying, I don’t know a better way than daily walking.
However, meditation is better. Yet more difficult. Why not try yoga hand balls?
Hand balls for hand therapy
Women’s hands have a vital role: we hold our families in our hands, as my yoga teacher says.
Image text – take out literally. We don’t literally hold the family in our hands 😉
Besides, all of the work with our hands that is ahead of us: carrying the baby, washing, etc., the constant load on the hands of a young mother needs proper training and preparation. There might be pregnancy-induced hand complications, the most common is carpal tunnel syndrome.
My right palm sometimes felt weird, achy and numb.
Hand balls kill two birds with one stone: This powerful practice stretches, relaxes and exercises your fingers and palms, simultaneously providing deep relaxation of the mind.
Hand balls routine for pre-meditation
I use quite big stone balls, turning them in both hands: two in each.
If you want to try it out first, get four mandarins or small apples/oranges instead of stone balls. Sit down on the floor, keep your back straight, and your legs crossed and put your palms on your knees. Close your eyes. Take two balls in each hand and start turning them around simultaneously, first in one and then in the opposite direction. Make 10 rounds to the left and then to the right. Now relax and listen to your palms. I can do 50 times in each direction, but very slowly. The trick is, if you’re using stone balls, not to clash them. It was so difficult for me!
How does my baby feel during my yoga practice
He loves it. By stretching and performing special asanas, you create a lot of space for the baby: he has room to move and play and this is a precious gift because no one else can give it to him. I felt his movements each time after I finished an asana and, while I was doing it, he stayed calm.
The baby inside me enjoyed those practices, just as I do, and I’m sure we were both smiling at the end of the class.
What my baby enjoyed most were the poses that made the space inside wider: all the turnover poses, as well as the half bridges, bridges and shoulder stand*.
*Please note: none of the yoga asanas or practices described in this post are to be done without prior consultation with your doctor or/and under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor