Life, like Yoga, is not static. For women especially, the body can be a constantly morphing vehicle within which to work. And there is no state that makes that more apparent than pregnancy. With that in mind, The Momtropolis asked the ever insightful Angela Clark, to break down the pose she loves today, in pregnancy; and the pose she will love tomorrow, postpartum. Angela is co-owner of Mala Yoga and in the 3rd trimester of her second pregnancy.
As your belly begins to grow in your pregnancy, you may begin to feel minor or major discomfort. The weight of the baby and fluid in your belly pulls, not only on your bones and muscles, but along the connective tissue that lies over your muscular system.
One of the shifts that can happen is that your pelvis starts to tip more anteriorly (think sticking your butt out). This can put strain on your lower back and because the abdominal muscles are getting stretched, they are not as able as they once were to support your lower back.
The other pull or discomfort you might feel is in the mid to upper back and again this can be due to the growing belly. Our shoulders begin to round forward and our thoracic spine begins to hunch (think the Hunchback of Notre Dame).
The good news is that there are ways to help alleviate some of these discomforts you may be experiencing throughout your pregnancy. Here is my favorite. I do it everyday, multiple times a day.
Forearm Dog at the Wall – A yoga pose to help relieve back discomfort during your pregnancy. Click pics for tips.
Forearm Dog takes pressure off the entire back and stretches out the sides of the body which get short and pulled because the belly is growing forward. This pose also opens up the thoracic spine and shoulder girdle. The added bonus is the back of the legs get a stretch, which can help relieve some of the “Charley horse” cramping you may be getting in the middle of the night.
You want to set up in this pose with the fingers interlaced and the forearms against the wall; the distance between the elbows measures about the width of your shoulders. Keep the elbows higher than the hips so your body is only at a slight angle (rather than parallel to the floor) and let your ears line up with your arms.
Focus on drawing the hips back in space and anchoring your sitz bones down towards the heels so as not to over arch the lower back. Think about elongating instead. Stay for about 10-15 nice deep breaths and come out of it by walking your feet towards the wall to help you with balance.
Shalabhasana – My go to postpartum pose. Mala Co-owner, Steph Creaturo demonstrates. Click pics for tips.
Perhaps the thing I personally start to miss most is lying on my belly, so once I’m 8-10 weeks postpartum Shalabhasana is going to be my go to pose. This pose will help strengthen the back and open the chest and shoulders. It will also give you some tummy time with your new bundle of joy!
Begin by lying on your belly. If it’s comfortable for your shoulders, interlace your fingers behind your back. If it’s not, you can always hold on to a yoga strap or towel. Engage those Kegel muscles and inhale lifting the legs, head and chest away from the floor. Don’t worry about height here, go for extension of the feet away from the crown of the head. Hold for 5-7 breaths then slow lower down. Rest and repeat!
Contributor Angela Clark is co-owner of Mala Yoga, located in the heart of Cobble Hill at 162 Court St. For more prenatal yoga tips, check out Your Prenatal Yoga Toolkit, a Mala Yoga e-book all about making your yoga practice work for you throughout your pregnancy. Inside you’ll find pose swaps, good-for-you extras, and the do’s and don’t’s of practicing while pregnant.