Two of my dearest friends have told me within the last two weeks that they are pregnant. I couldn’t help but think about them as I’m trying to twist and contort my body into Standing Marichiasana, thinking that is was hard on my hips, shoulders and low back. Ok, check yo self, Sarah! These ladies are about to carry for 9 months and then push a human child out their hoo ha! Who am I to whine?
So this post is dedicated to the two mommys-to-be in my life.
Yoga is an amazing way to prepare your body for childbirth. It will open your hips and strengthen your glutes to aid in pushing. Plus you’re going to be carting around a babe that weighs at least as much as those dumbbells you’re slinging at the gym so why not sneak in some upper body strength as well? One of the most important and most overlooked parts of yoga is Pranayama, or breathwork. Consider this: yoga is a way for us to practice being in a stressful situation (oh, dont pretend like it doesn’t make you anxious the longer you hold Chair Pose) and use the tools inherent to us to deal with that situation. Where do you think they got the idea for birthing breath, anyways? Every time you practice yoga, it is an opportunity to practice being in your body and managing the sensations and thoughts that you experience-and will inevitably experience during childbirth.
Here are some guidelines for you mommas-to-be:
1. Always introduce yourself to the instructor before class and let them know that you are pregnant. If nothing else this will remind them to provide modifications to poses for you.
2. Avoid overstretching. Your hormones are working to expand and stretch your body for birth. I repeat, for birth. Not for yoga. Your bones and ligaments are literally changing places in the body. Be gentle to them.
3. Avoid twisting from the belly. We are so used to these poses being a massage for the organs, but remember that this includes the uterus. And the uterus doesn’t really need a massage right now.
4. In general, avoid back bending. Many backbends require balancing on the low belly. These should be avoided all together. If poses like full wheel are a comfortable part of your practice, you may continue them through the first trimester only.
5. Let go of your washboard abs. Your tummy is going to be stretching a lot in the coming months and the tighter your abs, the harder that will be. So surrender the six pack- For now. You can always get it back after you give birth.
Ultimately this is is a means for you to be present in your body and acknowledge what it is you need. Just remember that it’s ok to ease off a pose you might have held before. You’re going to need to ask for help over the coming months and that’s ok too. Try this: while you’re in Savasana, put one hand on your heart and one on your belly, creating an energetic loop between what gives you life and the life you give.
You two know who you are. I am proud of you and admire you. My mom is one of the most important people in my life and I’m excited for you two to be that for someone.