The first one is the easiest of all. Whenever you sit-on a chair, in the car, on the couch, sit with your hips elevated higher than your knees. You can do this by rolling up a towel or a blanket and placing it underneath your “sit bones”. You can replace your desk chair with an exercise ball. These exercise/therapy balls are great for labor and birth. If you don’t have one, get one! Just make sure your knees are lower than your hips. It will be more comfortable to sit up straight, and it will also help your uterus align properly in your pelvis. And most importantly, according to Spinning Babies it will help your baby get into the right position for birth.
The second thing you can do is lots and lots of pelvic rocking. Start on all fours with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Tilt your tail bone up, then tuck your tail bone under, so the only part of the back moving is the low back and the pelvis. This is different from cat/cow where the upper back moves. This isolates the lower back and belly. When you get in your third trimester, it feels even better as it takes pressure off the pubis and the pelvic floor and improves circulation. Doing 100-150 each day is best. Now, I know that sounds like a lot but it will only take a few minutes out of your day. Your back will feel so much better. This exercise stretches and strengthens the belly and the back and has also been touted as helping your baby get into the right position for birth.
Opposite arm and leg balances are helpful in strengthening the lower back and belly muscles. I have my students do these in every prenatal yoga class. Start on all fours. Make sure your hands are right under your shoulders, and your knees are right under your hips. Inhale as you extend your right leg and your left arm in the opposite direction. Hold for three breaths. Exhale and place your hand and knee back down on the floor and round your back into a cat stretch-tuck your chin and your tail bone toward the floor as you round your back up toward the sky. Repeat on the other side. Do about five on each side daily-or more if it makes you feel better.
Follow these with Cat/Cow poses. Inhale and arch your back. Exhale and round your back. You can also twist around to look back over your shoulder as many times as it feels good to do it.
Seated twist. Sit sideways on a chair facing the side of the chair. Take hold of the sides of the back of the chair and inhale, and as you exhale, twist toward the back of the chair. Do the other side by sitting on the other side of the chair and repeating.
Wide legged forward folds feel great but if you find it uncomfortable as your belly and baby get larger, then rest your arms on a chair bringing your torso parallel to the floor.Let your belly alternately relax with each inhale and gently contract with each exhale. You can also do a wide legged forward fold with a twist.
If you are comfortable in the full forward fold, then go for it. It feels very relaxing and helps to stretch the back of the body. Just remember to keep a tiny bend in the knees. The more you bend the knees, the more you release the lower back.
And lastly, do squats every single day. This will help you prepare for labor and birth by making your legs stronger and ready for second stage labor. If you round your back and curl around your baby it can also be a great back stretch while you squat. Instead of bending over to pick something up, squat down to get it. Use your legs. Take your feet wider than your shoulders and hips. Turn your toes out at a 45 degree angle. Bend your knees and place your hands on your knees as you tilt your tail bone up. Then squat down fully. If your heels are off the floor, you can roll up a towel and place it under your heels or you can take your feet a little further apart.
by Liza Janda E-RYT 200, AAHCC
Liza Janda, has valuable experience as a Certified Fitness Instructor for 27 years, Bradley Method Certified Childbirth Educator for 16 years, and Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor for 10 years. She has worked at some of the world's leading spas: The Golden Door, Cal-a-Vie, and Rancho La Puerta.
Liza Has a passion for yoga, especially Prenatal Yoga. Her dedication to helping women during pregnancy, labor, birth and post-partum is a top priority. In addition to her educational programs she provides support, information, and fellowship for mothers-to-be and new mothers.
Liza feels blessed to be doing what she loves and is excited to share the gift of health and contentment through yoga with her students and friends.
Prenatal Yoga 1 Liza Janda
Prenatal Yoga 2 Liza Janda
Prenatal Vinyasa Flow Jennifer Lux
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