By Gunjan Amrit Kocharr (Photos courtesy Pooja A Bhandari)
Try these Yoga poses regularly to stay healthy during pregnancy and ensure an easy delivery!
Baddha Konasana – Butterfly Pose
Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana). If you find it is difficult to sit up straight in Staff Pose (stretch your legs straight as you sit tall), elevate your hips slightly by placing a soft foam block or blanket under your sit bones.
On an exhalation, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together to touch. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you can without feeling pressure or pain in your knees. Push the outer edges of your feet firmly into the floor and wrap your hands around your feet or ankles.
With the pelvis in a neutral position, open the groins by gently working the outer knees towards the floor. Never force your knees down.
Stay here, or start to recline your torso forward, ensuring that your spine remains long and neutral.
This yoga posture, also known as the Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose, is a seated pose that strengthens and opens the hips and groin while eradicating abdominal discomfort. The consistent practice of this pose can help with childbirth, urinary discomfort, and feelings of pain and heaviness. During each exercise, make sure to maintain a focus on your natural breath. You can stay in this posture if you feel comfortable for up to two minutes or less as per your body’s comfort.
• Helps with reducing weight off the body.
• Helps the digestive organs and relieves indigestion.
• Holistically boosts metabolism.
• Gives revitalised energy and strength to the nervous system.
• Sharpens the centre within the thyroid gland.
• Relieves anxiety.
Cow and Cat pose
Start on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
Think of the spine as a straight line connecting the shoulders to the hips. Try visualizing the line extending forward through the crown of the head and backward through the tailbone. This is the position of a neutral spine.
Keep the neck long, as the natural extension of the spine, by looking down and out.
Inhale as you move into Cow Pose (A)
1. Curl your toes under.
2. Tilt your pelvis back so that your tail sticks up.
3. Let this movement ripple from your tailbone up your spine so that your neck is the last thing to move.
4. Your belly drops down, but keep your abdominal muscles hugging your spine by drawing your navel in.
5. Take your gaze up gently up toward the ceiling without cranking your neck.
Exhale and Round for Cat Pose (B)
1. Release the tops of your feet to the floor.
2. Tip your pelvis forward, tucking your tailbone. Again, let this action move up your spine.
2. Your spine will naturally round.
3. Draw your navel toward your spine.
4. Drop your head.
5. Take your gaze to your navel.
Repeat the cat-cow stretch on each inhale and exhale, matching the movement to your own breath.
Continue for 5-10 breaths, moving the whole spine. After your final exhale, come back to a neutral spine.
Cat/cow is a wonderful posture during pregnancy to tone the abdominal muscles in a safe position, release the lower back, and guide the baby in a safe position during delivery. As you round the belly down into cow position and open the chest, women get a heart opener that boosts mood, increases energy, and can support breast milk production.
The cat portion of the exercise where the back is rounded, head and tailbone dropped toward the ground and belly hugged around baby is equally beneficial. It tones the muscles of the core, safely hugging them around the baby, releases the muscles of the lower back, and tones the shoulders and arms as they press into the ground and support the body.
1. Kneel down with lower legs stretched straight backwards and toes crossing each other.
2. Sit over the heels; your buttocks should sit on the heels and thighs on the calf muscles.
3. Sit straight with head facing forward and hands on your knees.
4. Close your eyes (optional) and focus on the breath, observing inhalation and exhalation.
5. Practice this position for 5 to 10 minutes or as much as possible.
1. You may feel a pain in the legs when you begin to practice this asana. If your leg aches, undo the asana and stretch your legs. Now massage your ankles, knees and calf muscles with your hand. This soothes the muscles and pain gradually fades.
2. If you have a knee problem, history of knee injury or recent knee surgery, don’t practice Vajrasana.
3. You can still practice this asana if you are pregnant. Be cautious to keep your knees apart to not stress your abdomen.
1. Vajrasana helps better blood circulation in the body. It modifies the blood flow by reducing the blood flow in the lower portion, especially in the legs and increasing blood flow to the digestive organs resulting to efficiency of the digestive system. People with weak digestion are benefited. Better digestion checks acidity and ulcers.
2. People with sciatica and severe lower back problems should regularly practice vajrasana to be benefited.
3. Vajrasana is the answer to constipation, stomach disorder, digestive problems, acidity. It makes lower body flexible, strengthens sexual organs, tones body muscles (hips, thighs, calves), cures joint pains, urinary problems, etc.
4. Losing weight becomes possible with regular practice of Vajrasana. You will see the difference in your belly fat after a few weeks of regular Vajrasana practice.
5. Vajrasana calms the mind and relaxes the nerves.
6. Slow and rhythmic breathing in this position can induce a meditative state.