There are many poses involved in yoga. Many of these poses are perfectly appropriate for pregnancy. Using them alone or in conjunction with other forms of exercise can greatly enhance your skills and preparation.
Remember when doing poses, never do them to the point of exhaustion. Never bend or stretch further than is comfortable. And hold them only as long as you feel steady and relaxed.
Sample Yoga Poses
Kneel on the floor, separating your knees slightly. Put your big toes together and sit back with your buttocks on the heels of your feet. Stretch your arms over your head (see FIGURE 5-12). Hold this pose for five seconds, releasing a bit more with each breath.
If this reach is too far for you as a beginner or later in pregnancy, bend your elbows and rest on your forearms to alleviate some of the tension.
Stand with your feet as wide apart as comfortable. Lean forward onto two supports to hold your body weight. Focus on keeping your chest open. Hold your head up to allow a good stretch of your neck (see FIGURE 15-1).
Modified Forward Bend
To open the pelvic area, sit on floor, with your thighs spread apart to accommodate your growing abdomen. Bend forward at the back and hold your toes with your hands if you can. Keep the knees straight.
While kneeling on the floor, pull in your abdominal muscles and breathe naturally. As you exhale, extend your right leg and left arm. Think about extending each limb as far as you comfortably can. Hold this pose for three to five breaths. Repeat ten times on each side.
Modified Cobra Pose
Stand with feet together, or separated if that is more comfortable, with your hands clasped behind your back. Inhale and drop your head back. Hold this pose and breathe gently (see FIGURE 15-2). Inhale again arching your back, while pushing your chest out and your arms back. Finally, push your hips forward. This can avoid abdominal pressure and strengthen the legs while giving your back a good stretch and backward bend.
Lie down on the floor with your bottom and feet against the wall, keep your soles together, and let your knees drop open. Use your hands to press your knees downward toward the wall (see FIGURE 15-3). This exercise will open up your pelvic area. It also helps to strengthen your legs, inner thighs, and lower spine.
You can also do this pose seated with a partner. Simply sit and pull your knees up as close as comfortable to your body. Have your partner hold your outer legs at about knee level. Have him or her provide slight resistance as you try to separate your legs. This is a great way to get others involved in your pregnancy! Even a school-aged child can help here.
Standing up straight with your back facing a wall, place the birth ball between you and the wall around the center of your back and press it into the wall using your back. Slowly walk your feet forward, leaning back into the ball for support (see FIGURE 7-6).
As you walk forward, the ball will roll up to the center of your back, between your shoulder blades. This allows you to do a squat without having to worry about being steady or having a partner (see FIGURE 7-7). When you are down as far as you can go, hold the pose for up to ten seconds, and then slowly walk your feet back to their starting position, allowing the ball to roll back to the center of your lower back.
This is not a beginner pose. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the hips over a collection of supports or a chair. This can be a stack of towels or blankets over a bed, or anything about waist height. Rest your hands and your arms on the supports in front of you (see FIGURE 15-4).
Your head will probably be about thigh level, depending on your flexibility. If your heels come up off the floor, have someone place supports under your feet. You may require help getting into this pose.
Forward Bend — Enjoy the stretch of the chest and upper back
Modified Cobra Pose
Down Dog Pose
Using these techniques to help you achieve a physical, mental, and emotional balance is very easy to do. You should aim to do yoga about 15 minutes a day, a couple of days a week, with the remainder of the days doing 20 to 30 minutes of yoga. This will provide you a good balance.