Yoga & Exercises

Yoga & Exercises

Yoga Asanas or exercises are a good way of stretching and conditioning the body to change, for expecting mothers. Yoga has several exercises or postures which benefit a woman’s overall health, even when pregnant. These exercises (postures) are diverse in their execution and will tone and expand all parts of your body gently.

During the pregnancy period, yoga asanas act as a spiritual route to uplift your mood, keep you calm and healthy. Yoga also provides physical and emotional stress relief that your body needs throughout the experience of pregnancy.

Pregnant women also battle mood swings at different levels, fatigue and sickness, painful leg cramps and breathing problems, this is when yoga exercises, techniques and postures ease all such conditions ensuring a period of relieved nine months followed by an easier labour and smooth delivery.

The remarkable effects of these postures in pregnancy show the power of yoga by ensuring a smooth pregnancy, natural childbirth and restoration of body shape after childbirth.

Yoga can be very advantageous for pregnant women as it helps a great deal in breathing and relaxing, which can further help in adjusting to the physical demands of pregnancy, labour, birth, and motherhood. Another great idea would be to take a prenatal yoga class where a mom-to-be could meet other expecting women and embark on this journey together.

 

ADVANTAGES OF PREGNANCY YOGA EXERCISES

  • It helps in keeping stress levels in check It keeps the mind and body healthy and calm It helps in getting rid of edema (fluid retention) and cramps which are quietly commonly seen with women in their last months of pregnancy.
  • Increases the energy levels.
  • When done with pranayamas (yogic breathing), it helps to reduce nausea, morning sickness and mood swings.
  • Focuses on relieving tension around the cervix and birth canal.
  • Focuses on opening the pelvis to make labour easier and quicker.

 

BENEFITS OF YOGA IN POST-NATAL CARE

After normal childbirth there is looseness in the pelvic and abdominal regions. Also, as the lactating months pass, sometimes it’s seen that flab gathers around the breasts, abdomen, hips and thighs. A new mother is actively involved in taking care of her baby’s feeding, sleep, etc. All these factors combined together could lead to her suffering from post-natal depression too. This could also affect her mental and physical well-being.

A daily yoga ritual (even for 20 minutes) along with a combination of asanas, pranayams and relaxation techniques works as a perfect way to free oneself from all the woes of the post-natal period. One can do the asanas in the morning or evening.

We have segregated these yoga exercises into trimester-wise sequences. However, we would recommend that you follow these under expert guidance.

 
FIRST TRIMESTER (1st – 12th WEEK)

1. Ardha Titali Asan (Half Butterfly)
Sit with your legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Next, place the right hand on top of the bent right knee.

Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. When you breathe out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. The movement of your leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Repeat this with the left leg. Slowly practice about 10 up and down movements with each leg. Ensure that you don’t strain yourself.

Advantages: It’s a wonderful practice for loosening the hip and knee joints, which shall enable a faster delivery.

 
2. Poorna Titali Asan (Full Butterfly)
Sit with your legs lengthened. Bend your knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to your body as possible. Next, completely relax the inner thighs. Clasp the feet with both your hands.

Gently bounce the knees up and down, using the elbows as levers to press the legs down. Do not apply any force. Repeat this for 20-30 times. Finally, straighten your legs and just relax.

Advantages: Helps to relieve tension from inner thigh muscles and removes tiredness from legs.

 
3. Supta Udarakarshan Asan (Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose)
Lie on your back. Interlock the fingers of both hands and place your hands under your head. Bend your knees, keeping the soles of the feet on the floor. When you breathe out, lower your legs towards the right, try to touch the knees on the floor. And at the same time, move your head towards the left, giving uniform twisting stretch to the entire spine. Repeat this on the other side by bending your legs towards the left, and head towards the right.

Advantages: Aids in getting rid of constipation, and improving digestion. Relieves stiffness of and strain on, the spine, which is caused by prolonged sitting.

 
4. Chakki Chalan Asan (Churning the Mill Pose)
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of your body, with approximately one foot distance between them. Interlock fingers of both your hands and hold your arms out straight in front of your chest.

Make large circular movements over both feet, trying to take the hands over the toes on the forward swing and coming as far back as possible on the backward swing. Practice this 10 times in each direction.

Advantages: This asan is great for toning the nerves and organs of pelvis and abdomen, thereby preparing them for pregnancy. Helpful in regulating the menstrual cycle, it is an excellent post natal exercise as well.

 
5. Kashta Takshan Asan (Chopping Wood Pose)
Sit in the squatting pose with your feet flat on the ground and one and a half feet apart. Clasp the fingers of your hand and place them on the floor, between your feet. Straighten the arms and keep them straight throughout the practice. Elbows should be placed inside the knees. Raise your arms as high as possible, behind the head, stretching your spine upwards. Look up towards the hands.

Make a downward stroke. Expel the breath making a “Ha” sound and removing all air from the lungs. Hands should return towards the feet. This makes one round. Practice 5-10 more such rounds.

Advantages: It loosens the pelvic girdle and tones the pelvic muscles.

 
6. Marjari Asan (Cat Stretch Pose)
Sit with your buttocks on the heels (Vajrasan). Raise the buttocks and stand on the knees. Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor. This is the starting position. Inhale while raising your head and depressing the spine so that the back becomes concave. Exhale, while lowering the head and stretching the spine upwards.

At the end of the exhalation, contract the abdomen and pull in the buttocks. Your head will now be between the arms, facing the thighs. This is one round. It could be done for 5-10 times. Be careful and make sure you do not strain yourself.

Advantages: This asan make the neck, shoulders and spine, more flexible. It helps in toning the female reproductive system. It is safe to be practiced during first 6 months of pregnancy.

 
7. Kati Chakrasan (Waist Rotating Pose)
Stand with your feet about half a meter apart and your arms by the sides. Inhale while you raise your arms to the shoulder level. Exhale and twist your body to the left. Bring your right hand to your left shoulder and wrap your left arm around the back. Look over the left shoulder. Hold your breath for 2 seconds, inhale and return to the starting position. Keep your feet firmly on the ground while twisting. Repeat this on the other side. Twist very smoothly, ensuring each twist is jerk-free. Do about 5-10 rounds of this.

Advantages: Tones the waist, back and hips. Induces a feeling of lightness and helps relieve physical and mental tension.

 
8. Tadasan (Palm Tree Pose)
Stand with your feet together and your arms on the side. Raise your arms over the head, interlock fingers and then turn your palms upwards. Place your hands over the head. Inhale and stretch your arms, shoulders and chest upwards. Raise your heels so that you come up on the toes. Stretch your whole body from top to bottom. Lower your heels while exhaling and get the hands on top of the head. Relax for a few seconds and repeat this whole round around 5-10 times.

Advantages: Helps develop physical and mental balance. Entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear congestion of the spinal nerves. Also stretches rectos abdominal muscles, keeping the nerves toned.

 
9. Utthanasan (Squat and Rise Pose)
Stand erect on your feet, about a meter apart, with toes turned out. Interlock fingers of both the hands and let them hang loosely in front of the body. Slowly bend your knees and lower the buttocks. Straighten your knees and return to upright position.

Advantages: Strengthens muscles of the middle back, uterus, thighs and ankles.

 
10. Kandharasan (Shoulder Pose)
Lie flat on your back. Bend your knees, place the soles of your feet flat on the floor with the heels touching the buttocks. Feet and knees may be hip width apart. Grasp the ankles with the hands. Raise your buttocks and crouch back backwards. Try to raise your chest and navel as high as possible, without moving your feet or shoulders. In the final position, the body is supported by the head, neck, shoulders, arms and feet. Hold the pose as long as it is comfortable. At last, release your ankles and relax.

Advantages: Realigns the spine and relieves backache. It massages and stretches the colon and abdominal organs, improving digestion. Tones female reproductive organs and especially recommended for women who tend to miscarry. Should not be done in advanced stages of pregnancy. Under expert guidance, it has been successfully used to turn the baby when it is a breech presentation.

 
SECOND TRIMESTER (13th – 26th WEEK)

1. Matsya Kridasan (Flapping Fish Pose)
Lie on your stomach with your fingers interlocked under the head. Bend your left leg sideways and bring the left knee close to the ribs. Make sure your leg remains straight. Swing your arms to the left and rest the left elbow on the left knee. In case this position is not comfortable, then rest the left elbow on the floor. Rest the right side of the head on the right arm. Relax in the final pose, and after some time, change sides. Bent knee and head may be supported on a pillow to make it more comfortable for yourself.

Advantages: It stimulates digestion and removes constipation. It relaxes the nerves of the legs. In the latter months of pregnancy, lying on your back may cause pressure on the major veins and block the blood circulation. In such circumstances, this posture is ideal for relaxing and sleeping. It also redistributes the excess weight around waistline.

 
2. Vajrasan (Thunderbolt Pose)
Kneel down on the floor. Bring your big toes together and separate the heels. Lower the buttocks onto the inside surface of the feet with your heels touching the side of your hips. Place hands on knees, palms down. Your back and head should be straight, but not tense.

Advantages: Enhances the digestive functions and can be practiced directly after meals. Relieves stomach ailments like hyperacidity which is one of the common discomforts felt by women during pregnancy. Alters blood flow and nervous impulses in the pelvic region and strengthens pelvic muscles. Assists women in labor.

 
3. Bhadrasan (Gracious Pose)
Sit in vajrasan (mentioned above). Separate the knees as far as possible, while keeping the toes in contact with the floor. Separate the feet just enough to allow the buttocks and perineum to rest on the floor. Try to separate the knees. Do not strain.

Advantages: Enhances the digestive functions and can be practiced directly after meals. Relieves stomach ailments like hyperacidity which is one of the common discomforts felt by women during pregnancy. Alters blood flow and nerve impulses in the pelvic region and strengthens pelvic muscles. Assists women in labor.

 
4. Marjari Asan (Cat Stretch Pose)
Sit with your buttocks on the heels (Vajrasan). Raise the buttocks and stand on the knees. Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor. This is the starting position. Inhale while raising the head and depressing the spine so that the back becomes concave. Exhale, while lowering the head and stretching the spine upward. At the end of the exhalation contract the abdomen and pull in the buttocks. Head will be now between the arms, facing the thighs. This is one round. It may be done for 5-10 times. Be careful not to strain yourself.

Advantages: This asan improves flexibility of the neck, shoulders and spine. Tones female reproductive system. Can be safely practiced during first 6 months of pregnancy.

 
5. Hasta Utthanasan (Hand Raising Pose)
Stand with your feet together and arms on the sides. Cross your hands in front of body. Inhale and slowly raise arms over the head, keeping them crossed. At the same time, bend head slightly backwards and look up at the hands. Exhale and spread arms out to the sides at shoulder level. Inhale and reverse the movement, re-crossing the arms above the head. Exhale and lower the arms straight down in front of the body.

Advantages: Removes stiffness from the shoulders and upper back. The deep synchronized breath improves breathing capacity. Enhances heart health and improves blood circulation. Also, the whole body, especially the brain receives an extra supply of oxygen.

 
6. Tadasan (Palm Tree Pose)
Stand with your feet together and arms on the side. Raise your arms over the head, interlock fingers and then turn the palms upwards. Place your hands over the head. Inhale and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upwards. Raise your heels to come up on the toes. Stretch whole body from top to bottom. Lower heels while exhaling and bring hands on top of the head. Relax for few seconds and repeat whole round 5-10 times.

Advantages: Helps to develop physical and mental balance. The entire spine is stretched and loosened, helping to clear congestion of the spinal nerves. Also stretches rectos abdominal muscles keeping the nerves toned.

 
7. Kati Chakrasan (Waist Rotating Pose)
Stand with your feet about half a meter apart and the arms by the sides. Inhale while raising the arms to shoulder level. Exhale and twist body to left. Bring right hand to left shoulder and wrap left arm around the back. Look over left shoulder. Hold your breath for 2 seconds, inhale and return to starting position. Keep your feet firmly on the ground while twisting. Repeat on the other side. Do twisting smoothly without any jerks. Do about 5-10 rounds.

Advantages: Helps in toning of the waist, back and hips. Induces a feeling of lightness and used to relieve physical and mental tension.

 
8. Utthanasan (Squat and Rise Pose)
Stand erect on feet about a meter apart, with toes turned out. Interlock fingers of both hands and let them hang loosely in front of the body. Slowly bend knees and lower buttocks. Straighten knees and return to upright position.

Advantages: Strengthens the muscles of middle back, uterus, thighs and ankles.

 
9. Meru Akarshanasan (Spinal Bending pose)
Lie on the right side with your left leg on the right leg. Bend the right arm, placing the elbow on the floor. Support your head on the right palm. Place your left arm on the left thigh. Raise the left leg as high as possible, slide the left hand to the foot and grasp the big toe. Repeat on other side.

Advantages: Relaxes the hamstring, inner thigh and abdominal muscles and stretches the muscles of the sides of the body rendering them stronger and flexible.

 
THIRD TRIMESTER (27th – 48th WEEK)

1. Ardha Titali Asan (Half Butterfly)
Sit with your legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. Movement of leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Repeat with left leg. Slowly practice about 10 movements (up and down) with each leg.

Advantages: It is an excellent practice for loosening of hip and knee joints, which shall enable a faster delivery.

 
2. Poorna Titali Asan (Full Butterfly)
Sit with your legs outstretched. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to the body as possible. Fully relax the inner thighs. Clasp the feet with both hands. Gently bounce the knees up and down, using the elbows as levers to press the legs down. Do not use any force. Repeat up to 20-30 times. Straighten the legs and relax.

Advantages: Useful in relieving tension from inner thigh muscles. Removes tiredness from legs.

 
3. Supta Udarakarshan Asan (Sleeping Abdominal Stretch Pose)
Lie on the back. Interlock fingers of both hands and place hands beneath the head. Bend knees, keeping the soles of feet on the floor. While breathing out lower the legs towards the right, trying to touch the knees on the floor. At the same time, move the head towards the left, giving uniform twisting stretch to the entire spine. Repeat on the other side by bending legs towards left, and head towards right.

Advantages: It removes constipation and improves digestion. Also relieves stiffness and strain of spine caused by prolonged sitting.

 
4. Ankle Crank
Bend the right leg up and place the foot overhanging the left knee. Hold the right toes with the left hand. Steady the right ankle with the right hand. Crank the right ankle around in a large circular movement. Do 10 rotations in each direction and then 10 rotations in each direction with the other ankle

Advantages: This is very good for stiffness and poor circulation in the feet. Helps extend setting time in meditation postures.

For more pregnancy tips including great recipes for your pregnancy diet and quality products for mothers, check out the rest of our site. 

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