Guest post by Leeanne Zissimous. Founder and principal teacher at the YogaLou Studio in Melbourne.
When I had my son 18 years ago I didn’t know about yoga and the many benefits that could assist you in preparing for pregnancy, while pregnant and even after the baby is born.
Since having my son I discovered yoga and after years of practising I became a qualified yoga instructor. I teach numerous types of classes including prenatal and postnatal classes, where I focus on a combination of movements, (Asana) and breath (pranayama), with modifications to accommodate the stages our bodies are in at the time. I am also currently studying to become a Doula to be able to understand our bodies better and how yoga can further help us throughout the journey.
Let’s start at the start: Trying to get pregnant
You and your partner have discussed whether it is a good time to start a family and what you could do in preparation. You find yourself asking if yoga can help with fertility. Actually, yoga can help relieve stress which can help with fertility. There are specific poses that will help baby-making by increasing blood flow to your pelvis, stimulating hormone-producing glands, and releasing muscle tension.
A quick and easy sequence you could practice regularly to help fertility-boosting includes:
The Lotus Pose
The Staff Pose: Sit down on the ground with your legs together and extended straight out in front of you; plant your palms beside your hips with your fingertips pointing toward your toes; and press into your hands to sit up tall. Hold the pose for one minute or longer.
Half Ankle to Knee: Based on the staff pose, bend your right knee and place your right ankle on your thigh just above your left knee and flex your left foot and vv.
Alternating Knee to Chest: On your back, extend your left leg straight on the floor, flexing your foot. Bend your right knee into your chest, clasping your hands just below your knee.
Bridge Pose : On your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms relaxed at your sides, palms up. Lift your bottom until you come to rest on your upper back.
High Lunge with Side Stretch
Yogini Squat: In a squat position, sit as straight as you can.
Goddess Pose: Start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Turn your toes slightly out and heels in so that your feet are at a 45-degree angle. Bend your knees and sink your hips so that your thighs become parallel with the ground.
You’re pregnant! Now what?
Now you’re on the next stage of your journey and you would love to keep going with your yoga practice. If you have been practising yoga regularly it would be safe to keep practising. If you have never done yoga before – now is a great time to start but it is recommended to start in the second trimester. But for both situations it is always a good idea to check with your doctor first, just to be sure.
The mental and physical benefits to be gained from yoga during pregnancy cannot be overestimated. It promotes general body flexibility and strength and improves circulation. Along with these obvious physical benefits the deeper sense of relaxation and release of stress achieved through specific breathing techniques benefit both mother and unborn child. A regular practice assists women in achieving a more positive experience of pregnancy and birth.
- It is a great way for mum and baby to bond
- Helps relieve stress
- Helps to activate the hormone ‘relaxin’ that assists in relaxing muscles for labour.
- You are able to connect and feel supported by other pregnant women
Below are some yoga poses that can be done regularly while pregnant.
Extended Side Angle Pose:
Image: Wikimedia Kennguru
Image: Wikimedia Kennguru
Sitting Side Stretch:
Cat / Cow Poses: This pose relaxes and extends the spine. On your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. As you inhale, gently drop your stomach towards the floor and vv arch your back.
Baby has now arrived and you’re back at home settling into a normal routine (as much as you can when bubs arrives!). When you have recovered from the birth and lack of sleep, it is a wonderful idea to make some time for yourself.
Once you have the OK from your doctor or midwife, have someone look after your baby, head to the mat, and get started. You can start a postnatal or a mum and baby yoga class after your 6 week check-up (8 weeks for C-section). Wherever you take the class, ensure the teacher knows you have just had a baby.
Postnatal Yoga will help loosen tight muscles, release tension, calm nerves, and calibrate and rebuild pelvic floor and abdominal muscles that have been tried and tested over the nine months supporting a baby.
Postnatal yoga poses you can practice regularly:
Legs up The Wall: Lay on your back with your legs resting up on the wall.
Triangle Pose: (see image above)
Utkatasana (Chair Pose):
Image: Wikimedia Kennguru
All information, is for informational purposes. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.