I vanished from the blogging ether for a few months while I was busy growing a tiny human. Truthfully, I was just not very interested in cooking throughout my pregnancy.
That tiny human, Bodie, was born on July 24th and my life has been quite crazy every since. But I'm happily back in the kitchen and back on my yoga mat whenever I can be!
While pregnant, I was fortunate to be completing my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification. I also became certified to teach prenatal yoga, specifically with the Yoga Birthing Method. Both experiences were super formative and I am convinced helped keep me strong and healthy in mind and body as Bodie and I grew bigger and bigger. They also provided amazing tools to use during my natural birth.
If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I can't recommend yoga enough. Below are my top ten favorite prenatal yoga poses. I recommend practicing them throughout your pregnancy—when you're watching TV, taking a break from sitting at your desk at work, feeling morning sickness....the more often you do them, the more you're helping to prepare your body and mind for the experience of birth.
Wide-legged Child's Pose (Balasana) The more pregnant you get, the less possible it becomes to do normal child's pose (legs together) so embrace your growing belly and the hormone that has opened your hips (appropriately called relaxin) and get down and juicy with this pose. Have a partner put two palms on the base of your lower back and place a little gentle pressure there. It'll feel delicious. As you get more pregnant, you can also use props like pillows and blankets to rest your upper body on top of if that is more comfortable.
Cat/Cow Being on your hands and knees is so good for you, whether you're pregnant or not. It takes pressure off of places that usually get a whole lot of pressure when we're standing or sitting. I recommend making circles with your hips as you inhale into cow and exhale into cat. You can't do these two poses enough in my opinion!
Downward Dog Downward dog is quite simply the best. The week I went into labor, it was the ONLY pose that still felt good and seemed to take pressure of my lower back, which was a total throbbing mess. It's also a nice inversion that helps drain your lymphatic system in a safe way, since both hands and feet are still on the ground.
Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) Pigeon pose is an amazing hip opener. And if you want to push a baby out, you've got to have open hips! Again, the more pregnant you become, the more challenging this pose becomes. You will definitely need props to support your upper body when your belly has popped. This pose is also great for helping any sciatic pain you might feeling during pregnancy, which is pretty common.
Dancing Warrior Sequence I like to create a flow from one warrior position to another, similar to a video you can find online by Kathryn Budig. Warrior poses can be very grounding and empowering, two feelings you'll want to cultivate when pregnant and preparing for labor. There's nothing like standing strong in Warrior II and thinking, "My body is strong and capable of anything."
Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) Triangle pose is a nice spine lengthener and hip opener. If you're feeling wobbly on your feet, it can be done against a wall for added support. The more you extend your upper reaching arm behind you, the more you'll feel this pose opening your shoulders and hips.
Wide-legged Downward Dog/Forward Bend As your belly grows bigger, Downward Dog can transition into a wide-legged dog/forward fold, which feels like medicine for your lower back. I enjoyed this pose up until the day I gave birth because I felt a great deal of lower back pain during my third trimester.
Goddess Squat Pose (Utkata Konasana)This is another great pose for women and our hips. And another great empowerment pose! Just remember to keep your hips and knees nice and wide. I like to turn this pose into a flow, coming in and out of it by straightening my legs and reaching my arms high over head.
Squat (Malasana) I include squatting in almost every prenatal class I teach for obvious reasons. It's good prep for child birth :) The only thing I caution against with squatting is KNEES. Be mindful of bad knees and try not to squat too deeply if you feel any pain.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) Tree pose is great to cultivate balance in pregnancy. Your balance can feel pretty off while pregnant, particularly because your body is literally changing every day. Tree pose is a nice way to feel grounded. And again, feel free to use a wall if your balance is off.
Photo credit: Erik Leigh Simmons