Pregnancy period is one of the most exciting times that a woman has during her lifetime. The feeling of bringing a life into this world and adding a member of the family is just phenomenal. Although, pregnancy can be exciting, there are numerous complications that are associated with it and some of them are avoidable. Exercise is one of the most important aspects for any pregnant woman to help them in improving their health condition and also maintaining the pregnancy. The workout routine, if you are pregnant, is quite different from what you used to do before because you do not want to strain the pregnancy but you have to keep fit. In this article, we will critically look at stretches or yoga poses that you can perform while you are pregnant to reduce tension and other pregnancy-associated pains and their medical benefits.
1. Pigeon Pose
This is one of the most popular poses that you may have encountered and it can be done by anyone. Although its dynamics are intense and the pose is so liberating. Medically, the pose is great for relieving lower back and hip pains, anxiety and stresses which most of the pregnant women experience during pregnancy period and after. The pose should be included in your routine after you have adequately warmed up your body as this will ease your muscles to go deeper into the pose.
You can begin the pose on all fours position. Breathe out and slide your right knee forward in such a way that the thigh bone and your knee are directly in front of the right waist. Slowly release your left leg to the ground and push it behind you, maintaining your left foot relaxed and your leg internally rotated. You will know you are doing it right when your left leg is aligned behind you, not angled out to the left.
Breathe in and allow more stability to support your body by holding your blocks. Start to draw your torso upright and concentrating your attention on the pelvis. Adjust your pelvis to a more upright posture from a tilted position. This movement will release tension off your lower back. During the movements try and remember to keep your abdomen active and shoulders relaxed.
Extend your arms forward as far as you can and you can use your head during this movement to eliminate any strain on the neck and to add pressure will be sent to your central nervous system to relax giving you a phenomenal feeling. Control your breathing routines and visualize your breath exploring your body making you release any tension when you exhale.
There are few adjustments that you have to do when you are pregnant for both you and your baby’s safety. Depending on your belly size adjust your legs and torso so that space is created for the baby. Slowly come out of the pose when you feel any form of discomfort or pain and take a rest. The movements should be done on both sides of your body. Listen to your body and work within its abilities and limits because as the pregnancy develops so are your abilities and limits pushed. The restorative version of the pose is not recommended for pregnant women.
2. The Triangle Pose
It is my favorite though it becomes a bit intense as your center of gravity shifts from time to time and we all know how hard this can be especially as your pregnancy progresses. However, with the right direction on how to do it you will enjoy the pose very much.
Begin in front of your mat and step your right foot about halfway down your mat. Direct the outer edge of your right foot with your mat’s back edge. You will know that you are in the right position if your front toes are facing forward and your back foot is perpendicular to your front foot. To make it more comfortable adjust the base to make it narrower as your pregnancy develops.
Spread your arms wide to make them form a T shape with the rest of your body and to allow your chest to open wide you can slide your shoulders away from your ears. Take in deep breaths while maintaining this posture.
Maintain the T shape with your arms and allow your torso to stretch out over your front leg by shift your pelvis. When you are tilting let it be from your hip joints and not your waist or back. Stretch your front hand to rest on the block or shin on the inner side of your front foot. Exhale as you tilt in front during this movement.
There are numerous medical benefits associated with this pose. The pose engages your back muscles which help in strengthening your back and spine. This is important as you will need a strong back and spine to support the baby weight. It also stretches the pelvic area which usually becomes too tensed during pregnancy as it bears the weight. The pose also encourages deep breaths and tones the pelvic floor. The stronger pelvic floor will assist you greatly during delivery.
3. Cat or Cow Poses
This pose is usually known as a starter to warm up your body for other activities. Cat pose is usually paired up with cow pose to achieve the maximum efficiency of the poses. However, cow pose is more recommended for pregnant women as it helps you shift the baby weight away from your spine. These are usually considered beginners poses as they do not impact any pain or discomfort while you perform them.
Begin with aligning your hands with your shoulders and your knees with your hips. This position will assume a table shape with your spine in a neutral position. Concentrate your head in a neutral position and ease your gaze downward. Raise your head gently as you inhale. While exhaling, bring your chin towards your chest as you round your back. Maintain your hands pressed on the floor and push the center of your back towards the floor exaggerating its curve.
While performing the cow pose you have to remember to let the movement start from the tailbone then let your head and neck be the last part of the sequence of the movements. To protect your neck during the movements draw your shoulders away from your ears and keep your shoulder blades broad.
The pose helps you to strengthen your lower back while facilitating the mobility of a stiff spine. The pose assists you to move the baby into an ideal birth position and also helps decrease the round ligaments pain. It works well for all trimesters of the pregnancy period but you have to adjust it with the progression of the pregnancy.
4. Child’s Pose
You do not need to have attended yoga classes to perform this exciting and beneficial pose. It can be performed anywhere with very little props. This is one of the poses that will leave you smiling and a great way to keep you in shape while bonding with your baby.
Begin with placing your legs in a comfortable apart position and come into a kneeling position maintaining the distance between your knees. The distance between your knees is recommended to be wider than your hips width but comfortable at the same time. With your heels facing upwards, sit on them and lean with your body slowly in front while stretching your arms further in front of you as you can. It is very important to regulate your breathing routine as you enter the pose and not holding your breath. There should be a relaxed and gentle sensation when performing this pose and should not be straining in any form. You can use a pillow for more support to help you not use muscle strength during the movements.
Depending on the trimester of your pregnancy and size of your belly, you can place your knees wide enough to create space and make the pose more comfortable for you. This pose is appropriate for any trimester in the pregnancy with the right adjustments made.
The pose facilitates strong and steady breathing which most pregnant women need due to their increased metabolism rate. Your back, chest, and shoulders can be relieved off tension due to engaging in this pose. It gently stretches the tendons, muscles, and ligaments in your knee which may reduce swelling that is highly associated with pregnancy. The pose also lengthens and stretches your spine making it able to handle the baby weight. When the head and the torso are supported during the pose, it relieves lower back and neck pains.
Safety Tips For Stretching and Poses
Before you start any form of stretching, warm up first! Cold muscles are known for causing injuries during exercise. Take a walk or any convenient activity that will put your muscles at ease before you proceed to stretch.
Do not over do the poses or the stretches, as during the pregnancy period your body produces a hormone known as “Relaxin” which is responsible for loosening your ligaments in the pelvis region to help your baby make way down the birth canal. As this hormone is released, you may be flexible than usual which may motivate you to overdo your sessions leading to injuries.
Pay attention to your body for any signs of discomfort or pain. If you feel pain while performing some of the basic recommended stretches or poses then it may be an indicator that you have passed your limits and abilities.
Do not bounce while performing the stretches as this may result in injuries or pulled muscle. Try to maintain each stretch for more than 20 seconds while stretching as much as your limits and abilities allow you to.
Most of the yoga poses and stretches done when you are pregnant are just the same ones you used to perform before pregnancy but with little modification to allow the body changes that you are undergoing. There are numerous complications that are associated with pregnancy that can be avoided by doing simple exercises. Yoga poses and stretches is a great way to keep in shape and bond with your baby. Seek for advice from your physician before you engage in some of the stretches or poses.