Yoga for pregnancy Ailments
The following are just guidelines for women who have a regular yoga practice. If you don’t understand anything then speak to your yoga teacher. If you have an existing medical condition it is advisable that you speak to your midwife or doctor before undertaking any form of exercise.
During pregnancy the body is working incredibly hard to make the baby and the physical side effects for the mother can be hard going. Yoga is one of the alternative therapies that can help during this time. Reflexology is also ideal for pregnancy and massage can be lovely too. Osteopathy is important to make sure that the pelvis is doing it’s job correctly and if the back is causing a problem is important. Acupuncture has helped many women during this time.
I’ve outlined some of the most common complaints during pregnancy and how yoga may be able to help.
NB This information is designed for women who have been coming to my classes regularly so have an idea of the poses. It is NOT for total novices.
Sickness and nausea
Yoga can help by relaxing the body and mind. By being ‘breath aware’ mild sickness and nausea is often reduced.
When you’re feeling tired yoga is often the last thing you want to do, however it can really help…
Take 5 minutes or so and sit cross-legged and lean against the wall. Place the hands on the lower rib area and bring the attention to the breath. Quietly say to yourself as you inhale, I am breathing in and as you exhale I am breathing out. Observe a feeling of peace.
Energising breaths. Link your hands under your chin so your elbows stick out to the sides. As you inhale look up and as you exhale open your pose and look down, allowing the elbows to drop too.
Warrior II and Power Warrior are incredibly energising and can really awaken the body and mind.
Are a common complaint during pregnancy. Headaches often start as tension in the shoulders and neck so shoulder rolls can help to release tension. As can elbow holds and Eagle arms.
Heartburn is often caused becaue the organs get squashed during pregnancy. Try to create some space in the top part of the body by lifting the arms in prayer pose as you breathe in and releasing them as you breathe out. Another good posture to try is crossed legged against the wall. Focus on your back pressing into the wall so that the shoulders are open and away from the ears. Another great pose is sleeping fish. Lying on your back (use a cushion under the buttocks if you need to) cross your ankles and let your knees drop to the sides. Inhale and lift your arms above your head on the floor behind you and drop your elbows so they’re sticking out at right angels. This will open your air-ways and allow the organs in the top part of the body to relax.
Varicose veins. Swelling. Piles
Lie flat on your back and lift the legs up the wall. Use a cushion under the buttocks if you need to. If your partner will, ask them to massage from the ankle down to the thigh – this will help with the swelling. If you’re suffering from piles stay like this for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Lower Back Pain
The back really struggles during pregnancy and many women find that they get backache. It’s worth talking to your midwife about a back support as many women find these can really help. Swimming is ideal to help the back as the feeling of weightlessness can be lovely. The following yoga postures may help:
Extended Swan. Feet together, knees apart. Let your bottom be as close to the heels as is possible and allow the back to flatten.
Cat Pose. Be aware of hyper-extending. The back should be flat. Just gently rock forwards and backwards in this pose and the back should release.
Standing forward bend against the wall. Make sure your arms are straight and your body is at a right angle. Remember you should feel a stretch in your legs too. If you don’t first check the feet are straight – toes pointing towards the wall. If that doesn’t help, step the feet closer to the wall and push away with the buttocks.
High Blood Pressure
Focus on keeping as calm and relaxed as possible. Maybe taking time out each day where you can just ‘be’ with your baby. Sitting in cross-legged pose, perhaps leaning against the wall. Be aware of your breath and then maybe putting your hands on your lower ribs and breathing in and out slowly and easily. Again, perhaps just saying to yourself I am breathing in. I am breathing out… Perhaps try the ‘yoga nidra’ that we do at the end of the class. Get into a comfortable position and focus on relaxing each body part. Relax your toes, your toes are relaxed and so on.
Don’t over-extend in any position. Avoid wide leg seated or anything that pulls the legs too far apart. Yoga can often help and head of cow pose and eagle pose are particularly useful for this disorder. Other guidelines including taking smaller steps when you’re walking and keeping your legs together when you’re getting in and out of the car or bed. Lots of women say that when they stretch daily the symptoms disappear.
If your baby moves into breech position the aim is to get your hips higher than your shoulders as often as you can…..
Walking for 20 minutes a day can really help and the following yoga postures are worth a go.
Supported elbows and knees – bottom in the air. Do this for about ten minutes at a time – as often as you can during the day. If you get tired then build a nest of pillows and support yourself on the pillows.
Cat pose is fantastic – perhaps rocking forwards and backwards or full cat breath (breathing in, looking up, breathing out looking down).
Plank of wood – If all else fails…… Some Midwives will recommend getting a piece of wood and placing it so one end rests on a chair and the other on the floor and then lying on it – with the head at the floor end. Make sure that whatever wood you use it can support you correctly and it’s probably an idea to have someone nearby… Stay like this for about 20 minutes.
Another technique to try is lying on the floor with two pillows beneath your back so that your hips are higher than the shoulders. You can also try putting your legs up the wall.
From 34 weeks plus – regularly adopt upright, leaning-forward positions as this will tilt the pelvis forward giving your baby more room to move! Baddha Konasana (feet together knees apart) is a good one to try, walking the hands forward.
Sit on your birthing ball as often as possible to keep back straight so baby stays in best place