Every expecting mom has a unique pregnancy, and so are the aches and pains. Many expecting moms first start coming to my prenatal yoga classes because they are in discomfort or experiencing annoying aches and pains. Often, they are surprised at all the other benefits they get; sleeping better, having more energy, feeling more connected with their babies, and feeling less anxious about giving birth. The immediate gratification of actually feeling better in the muscles and joints, is what brings them back week after week.
Here are three of the most common aches and pains that pregnant mamas experience, and yoga postures and movements that often help relieve them:
The rise of the hormones progesterone and relaxin in the body contributes to ligament and joint laxity. This is experienced big time in the pelvis and hips. It’s these hormones job to loosen up the pelvis in preparation for allowing a baby to pass through. But this can lead to hip and pelvis pain. Movement is a great tool to help keep the hips and pelvis happy. Here are two movements you can do everyday:
From all fours (with your wrists below your shoulders and knees below the hips – supported on a blanket!) move your knees a bit farther apart, then rock your hips back and forth. Then if it feels comfortable, start moving your hips in small circles, leading with the hip to the right for 3-4 circles, then switch directions, leading with the hip to the left. You can bring your knees closer together too and make your circles bigger – whatever feels good in your body.
Learn this movement with me on YouTube here.
Caution: If you have Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, talk to your healthcare provider before you do yoga or any other exercises (especially when it comes to the hips and pelvis).
LOWER BACK PAIN
As baby grows, it is common for expecting moms to compensate with changing their posture, which leads to an exaggerated lumbar spine curve. In fact, if expecting moms have an awareness of posture throughout their pregnancies, their low back pain might be a lot less. Also, twists are great, but you want to make sure the twists you are doing are safe for your baby too (and honours their space). So here is a posture pose and twist that might help with low back pain.
This basic pose can help posture and low back pain. Feet are hip-width apart or wider. The sides of your feet can be parallel or not – whatever feels good in your body. Stack your sternum over the pubic bone and lift through the crown, gently snuggling baby towards the spine. Ground down through the feet. Being light-headed is common, so if you feel dizzy, pause and interlace your ﬁngers above your head reaching towards the ceiling, until the feeling passes. Practice standing in Mountain Pose throughout the day (in line-ups, waiting for the subway, at home while you do dishes, etc.)
Mama Twist & Scoop
From all fours with hands below the shoulders and knees below the hips (supported on a blanket), stretch your right leg straight out to the side and curl your back left toes under. On an inhale, open to the right, stacking your left shoulder over the left wrist, doing a twist to the right. As you exhale, reach your sit-bones back towards the left heel, scooping your right arm forward. You can lift the right toes off the earth, or keep the foot planted, or keep the knee bent, or not –do what feels right in your body. Repeat 4-6 scooping movements. To get out, bend your right knee and bring it back below the right hip and do an optional Downward-Facing Dog (if you feel up to it) then come back to all fours and do the other side with the same steps.
Learn the Mama Twist & Scoop with me on YouTube here.
It is very common to experience wrist pain in pregnancy. Some expecting moms even experience Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (ouch!) that can lead to numbness down the arm. If this is you, speak to your healthcare provider before doing the next yoga posture for wrist pain.
From all fours with hands below the shoulders and knees below the hips (supported on a blanket) bring your right wrist to face away from you and the right finger tips point towards your right knee (if this is too intense, bring your knees closer to your hands). Inhale, and as you exhale begin to peel the right wrist off of the ground, then the thumb, keep your fingers connected with the ground and pause then move your right thumb back and forth (let it do a little thumb dance) – this might not happen! Maybe no movement is possible, and this is enough of a stretch for your wrist and fingers. Another option here is to inhale, then exhale to peel your wrist and then your thumb, pinky finger, and all fingers (except for the finger tips) off of the ground, going back and forth with your breath, lifting and lowering the wrist a 2-4 times off of the ground. Gently shake the wrist out after 2-4 repetitions, then switch to the left wrist.
Learn some other great yoga stretches for wrist pain on YouTube here.
In the end, I always tell my students that movement is medicine during pregnancy. As soon as you are feeling up to moving (and not feeling nauseous) and you get the clear from your healthcare provider, try out different more suitable types of exercise during your pregnancy, like yoga (beginners are always welcome!)
Want to try out some prenatal yoga from home? Try out a FREE 20-minute class with me here!