Dr. Kelly Kasper, Obstetrics & Gynecology, IU School of Medicine: “Some of my favorite exercises for pregnant patients is actually prenatal yoga or just a gentle yoga.
Marjan Akhavan, Yoga instructor: [Warrior II Pose] “Let’s start by taking that right leg and turning the entire leg, from the upper sockets, so the toes point straight out towards the front of the mat. And then we’re going to extend back through that left heel, so the left toes come towards the right of the mat, so whatever feels more comfortable. You’re going to line up so that front heel intersects the back arch of the back foot. Let’s bring out hands to heart-center. Deep inhale, take those arms overhead. Reach to the sky. As we exhale, bring those arms back to the horizon. Palms facing down towards the ground and begin to bend that right knee, until that right knee is right above the ankle. If that knee extends out beyond the ankle, we’re going to want to take a little bit wider stance. So toe-heel that back foot back, just a little bit wider to keep that knee protected. We want it to go no further than the heel. Press down through the heel on that front right foot. Press back through the outside edge of that left heel. To help open these hips, we’re going to press the back of that right hip bone toward the wall in front of you, and at the same time press back through this left thigh.
Warrior II tips
Take wide lunge
Back foot can be parallel to back edge of mat
Have front heel in line w/ back arch
Careful with knee & foot placement
Reach arms out
Strengthens legs and opens hips
Keep breathing while holding pose
[Easy pose] Now, let’s go ahead and take the hands behind the back, keeping the elbows bent, we’re going to bring the hands together, palms together, and interlace the fingers. Clasping the hands together, let’s press those fingers down in towards the palm, as the tops of the interlaced fingers press down, roll those shoulders back, letting those shoulder blades slowly release down the back, with a deep inhale, see if we can lift that heart to the sky, gaze gently looking up at the sky, as we exhale, press those hands down into the mat, roll those arms backwards, shoulders releasing back, and find a little extra space.
Easy pose tips
Add folded blanket for sitting
Clasp hand behind back
Straighten arms & breathe
Provides extra space to lungs & organs
[Cobbler’s pose] Let’s start by bringing the soles of the feet together and opening the knees out wide to the sides of the mat. The closer we bring those heels in towards the pelvis, [the] more challenging it’s going to be. We’re going to take our two first fingers and wrap them around the big toe, and let the thumbs softly grip the outsides. Pulling those shoulders back, so the shoulder blades press into the back of the ribs, take a nice deep inhale. See if we can lengthen the spine. Lift through the heart. As we exhale, let those elbows gently pull into the sides, and pulling on [those] toes, see if we can keep that length through the spine. As you’re ready bring your hands to the outside of the knees and gently bring the knees back to center.
Cobbler’s pose tips
Helps pelvic tilt for delivery
Pose urges hips to open
Hold length in spine & exhale
[Legs up the wall pose] Starting from a seated position, we’re going to little by little, maneuver our sit bones up and see if we can get them situated on top of the blankets. As you start to settle in, we want to get it so our sit bones are just towards the far edge of the bolster, towards the wall, just barely dipping off the edge. We’re going to let our shoulders release down to the mat. With the feet above the head, we’re little by little allowing all that arterial blood to flow down back to the core, back to our organs, back to the brain, back to our baby. Focus on the breath.
Legs up the wall pose tips
Take time getting into position
Use bolster or blanket for support
Rest heels into the wall
Roll to left side when finished
[Wide knee table hip opener (modified)] Make sure the hands are right underneath the shoulders, not out in front, not out behind. We’re going to spread the fingers wide. Starting with the knees underneath the hip, we’re going to take the left leg out to the side and plant that left foot down. Bending into that knee, we’re going to do soft gentle rocking—almost a circular motion—out to the side, stretching through the inside of that right hip, then coming back to center. We start to let gravity pull gently on that weight, and then rotate switching out to the opposite leg.”
Wide knee table hip opener (modified) tips
Hands directly beneath shoulders
Keep leg slightly bent
Takes pressure off hips
Creates “hammock” for baby
Keep gentle deep breath
Dr. Kelly Kasper, Obstetrics & Gynecology, IU School of Medicine: “It really helps to keep us grounded and keep us focused. So pregnant women learn the ability to stay focused and stay calm and relaxed when they are in labor. A lot of those postures are actually postures that strengthen areas that really help and assist us when we are trying to push a baby out.”
Do not: Over-stretch; twist belly; stand on head; back-bend; lie on belly; do extreme yoga; lie on back too long