“Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have.” – Robin Lim
Pregnancy is transformative in more ways than I ever could have imagined. While my yoga practice has always been a constant source of physical, emotional and energetic healing throughout my life, I had no idea that so much of it would be stripped away during pregnancy.
My prenatal yoga practice has taught me how to focus on the little miracle brewing inside of me, rather than the nausea, fears of motherhood and inevitable exhaustion. My practice has also given me permission to slow down, and sometimes, to abandon my practice altogether, when my body says no. For years, I have asked my yoga students to “listen to your body”, and in pregnancy, this becomes the most truthful and accessible mantra. Every woman’s pregnancy journey is unique, and so is their yoga practice, so I encourage all expecting mama’s to explore their own prenatal yoga preferences and practices, ultimately prescribing their own sequence that suits the dynamics of their own pregnant body. Please check with your doctor of midwife before beginning prenatal yoga.
Alas, here are my favourite yoga postures during my second trimester.
Baby Belly Meditation in Hero Pose
How to: Kneel on the floor, or on a blanket, pillow or bolster, with your knees drawing towards one another and your feet slightly separated. With a long spine and a lengthened tailbone, begin to take long deep breaths in and out through your nose, honouring your connection to the world beneath your palms. Remain here for 5-20 minutes.
Why: Seated meditation, with my hands in heart shape over my belly is unquestionably my favourite pregnancy yoga pose. This is your connection to the earth, your groundedness, your stability. You are creating a miracle, and your connection to your root chakra in this meditation is designed to remind and inspire you about the beauty of this journey. Grounding is especially important in the first trimester when the embryo is implanting into the uterine wall and the potential for anxiety, fear and nausea are high. This is my medicine to stabilize when everything feels like it is spinning out of control.
How: From mountain pose, step your feet about the length of one of your legs apart, setting your back foot parallel with the back of your mat, and your front foot facing the front of the mat, aligning your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Extend both arms, setting your palms down as you begin to reach up and out through the crown of your head. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.
Why: The Warrior series implants a sense of confidence, self-esteem and fierceness into our minds, which can be especially useful considering the uploading of fears and insecurities during pregnancy and labour. This series can help you find the strength to get through anything, while awakening the muscles of your lower body, stretching the shoulders, neck and arms
How: From Warrior 2, keep your front knee bent at a 90 degree angle as you reach your back arm down your back thigh while simultaneously extending your front arm towards the ceiling. Set your gaze up to the sky, straight ahead or to the floor if you are experiencing any pain in your neck. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Why: There is an incredible sensation through your deep lateral lines along your side body in this posture, accompanied by an opening through your arms and hips and a continued strengthening through your lower body.
How: From Reverse Warrior, come back through Warrior 2, and straighten both legs. Engage your leg muscles and root through your feet as you extend your torso forward over your front leg. Lower your front hand to your shin, ankle or block while you stretch your back arm towards the sky, setting your thumb above your nose, where your gaze will settle for 5 deep breaths here.
Why: This is such a delicious stretch for the pregnant body, creating an expansiveness while relieving that frustrating back pain associated with the second trimester of pregnancy.
*Repeat this series on the opposite side before continuing on.
How: Begin in a standing position with your feet 3-4 feet apart, turning your toes 45 degrees. Bend at your elbows, taking mudra with your hands by connecting your thumbs and index fingers. Breath in, and as you exhale sink into a comfortable squat. Keep rooting through your feet as you explore 5 deep breaths.
Why: Discover your inner goddess with this fierce, strength building posture for your lower body. Powerful squats like goddess pose awaken your spirit as woman and mother while stimulating your respiratory system.
Modified Lord of the Dance Pose
How: Start in mountain pose at the top of your yoga mat, shift the weight onto your left foot, bend your right knee and externally rotate your right arm to hold the inner edge of your right foot. Engage both legs as you stabilize yourself with the wall, or extend your left arm alongside your left ear. Hold for 5 deep breath
Why: Dancing, and dancers pose, invite us to move fluidly like water – like the water we are made of and the water our baby is swimming in right now. Embrace the feeling of fluidity in the strength of this balance pose, while your chest and shoulders open. Allow the wobbly imbalances (that are inevitable with our growing bellies) to slip you off track and move how your body deserves, finding your inner dance, your inner goddess and your freedom.
*Repeat on the opposite side.
- Deep backbends are not advised in a prenatal yoga practice, but that does not mean we cannot open our heart chakra with gentle and supported backbends, deep heart centred breathwork and pelvic/hip rocking motions to prepare your heart for labour.
Warrior 3 Variations
How: Start standing at the top of your yoga mat. Grounding through the four corners of your left foot, lift your right back while pressing back through your right thighbone. Raise your torso parallel to the floor and select your preferred arm position. Lift your head slightly and take 5 deep breaths.
Why: Train your brain to balance your new distribution of baby belly weight in the safety of the studio and save yourself from potential mishaps out there in the real world.
*Repeat on the opposite side.
How: Draw the soles of your feet together and find an equal distance between your inner knees from left to right and your heels and pelvis from front to back. Fold forward until you reach a comfortable edge, finding a stretch through your inner groin and your spine. Surrender into the sensations as you gaze towards your naval and realign with you intention to take care of your digestion.
Why: This posture can help stimulate your kidneys, helping with those irritating urinary problems such as UTI’s and frequent urination. It also stimulates your digestive tract helping move your meals through your body.
How: Start by sitting in butterfly on the floor. Shift your right leg behind your hip. Adjust your front leg by moving the foot away from you, ultimately creating a right angle with your front knee. Keep both sitting bones firmly rooted to the ground and uncover a stretch through your outer left hip. Remain here for 3-5 minutes before switching sides.
Why: This pose will relieve gas, improve digestion and invite an appropriate stretch to your pelvis and hip flexors. Use props to ease out if there is any pain, preventing any injury to your loosening tissues during pregnancy.
Closing Baby Belly Meditation
Each day, as my belly expands and this little man grows and kicks and dances inside of me, my yoga practice is forced to transform. Poses slowly disappear from my sequences, first the belly down poses, then those big backbends, and today my body started to reject deep hip openers. As these shapes escape me, a new appreciation for the quieter, simpler ones emerge. Meditation has never been such a blessing as it is now. When I sit in stillness, my baby dances inside of me, forcing smiles and giggles onto my face. I feel the union right here more than anywhere else we go. Thank goodness for this practice, this listening, this transformation and most of all, this community.
Are you an expecting mom eager to explore movement, dance, meditation and mindfulness during your pregnancy? Now you can! From the comfort of your own home. Sign up here for my mailing list to be the first to know about my online prenatal yoga program. This dynamic program includes seven prenatal yoga and meditation sessions, designed with all of your pregnancy symptoms in mind. Inspired by my own pregnancy, my prenatal yoga teacher training and long conversations with moms, midwives and doulas alike, this one-of-a-kind program will inspire and move you throughout your pregnancy.
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- Contact me at www.ashleyholly.com for more information about your prenatal yoga practice. Photo Credits: Sikin Samji. If you simply love my pregnancy yoga tank in the photo, enjoy a 15% Discount on all Inner Fire Clothes Promo Code “ashleym15”