The following exercises and video are helpful for the second trimester, the perfect time to start your yoga practice (once you’re finally over the nausea and are able to move away from your horizontal position on the sofa). Use this time to build your strength and stamina for the more challenging later stages of your pregnancy and prepare your body for birth.
Yoga teaches you positoins that can assist in the delivery of your baby but it will also help you to connect to your body so that you can move intuitively during labour. Practicing breathing techniques will be invaluable for keeping you calm and focussed during the birth.
Pregnancy yoga focuses on the whole of your body, so you will always find exercises that hit the right spot, no matter what areas you are feeling tight or experiencing aches and pains.
If anything feels too uncomfortable or painful you should adapt or modify an exercise. It is important not to overstretch. If you have any pelvic girdle pain (PGP) which feels aggravated by opening the legs or by other assymetric movements of the legs, you need to be extra careful while doing yoga and it would be sensible to seek the advice of a physiotherapist.
Pregnancy yoga helps you feel more calm, while giving you time to connect to your body and your baby. You’ll sleep better and have fewer of those aches and pains, that are common later in pregnancy.
Interlace your fingers underneath the chin. As you inhale, lift the elbows high, filling up the lungs and as you exhale, lower the elbows back down. Repeat for 5-10 slow breaths.
Come onto all 4s and stretch one leg behind, tucking the toes under. Reach back through the heel, feeling the stretch down the back of the leg. Change legs.
This can be helpful for leg cramps.
Opposite arm and leg stretches
Come to the hands and knees on all 4s. Inhale lift the right arm and left leg and as you exhale release back to the starting position. Inhale lift the left arm and right leg and exhale release back down. Repeat 5 x each side keeping the hips in line, looking down at the floor. Aim to have the leg, hip height and the arm, shoulder height.
This exercise helps to strengthen your back
Sitting cross legged or kneeling if its more comfortable, place your right down on the floor by your side and reach your left arm over. Feel the stretch down the side of your body and feel the opening between the ribs.
Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. You can either look down to the hand on the floor or up towards your top arm. Stay for 5 deep breaths and then slowly come back up and change sides.
This can be helpful for rib pain and provide more space for your growing baby.
Lean against a wall and walk your feet back until you make an L shape with your body and legs. Lean back through the hips and through the heels. Stay 5-10 breaths feeling the stretch through the back and the hamstrings. Keep a bend in the knees.
This can help take the weight of your baby off your back and can be done at home or at work, especially if you have been sitting down a lot.
On all 4s with the knees wider than the hips, bring the hips back towards the heels and you can rest the forehead on the floor, make a pillow with the hands or rest the forehead on a pillow. Stay here as long as you like, breathing deeply.
Helpful for labour in between contractions and good for releasing tension.
To finish either lie on your back or if it feels ok lie with your legs up the wall.
Legs up wall
Lie with your legs up the wall if you are under 28 weeks pregnant and still feel comfortable lying on your back. Start by lying on your side with your hips by the wall and then carefully swing the leghs up the wall.
Stay here for a few minutes, relaxing. When you are ready to come down, bend your knees, keeping them wide and roll over onto your side before carefully coming back up to sit.
Benefits: Good for reducing swelling in the legs and ankles. Relaxing and restorative for your energy.
Tara ‘s yoga DVD boxset “Bump, Birth and Beyond” has been a bestseller (over 60,000 copies sold) in the UK and her new Pregnancy Yoga DVD is now available (www.amazon.co.uk).
Tara currently teaches ‘Pregnancy Yoga’, ‘Mother and Baby Yoga’ and ‘Vinyasa Flow Yoga’ at The Life Centre, Notting Hill Gate in London. She is a mother of two, a trained doula and Shiatsu practitioner