Whether or not it is safe and wise to practice yin yoga while pregnant has become a hot topic debate amongst yoga teachers.
Those who say not to are worried about the pregnancy hormone Relaxin causing you to be more flexible as your body prepares for childbirth. As yin yoga is all about finding the edge and increasing your flexibility they worry expectant mothers will push too far. Other teachers (I include myself in this grouping) say it is totally okay as long as you modify the practice, and don’t go as far as you normally would.
The 6 poses below will outline exactly how to modify your practice to accommodate for your pregnancy. They will also help you to open the side waist, open the hips a little, and relieve low back pain.
They are good for all stages of your pregnancy – first, second and third trimester.
Set yourself up with lots of props, including a set of blocks and a few pillows or cushions.
These 6 poses make up my 40 minute YouTube practice, Prenatal Yin Yoga. If you would prefer to see or hear me walk you through these poses, head on over there.
1. Yogic Squat (2 minute hold) – Turn the heels in and toes out as you lower yourself into a squat. The feet should be about hip width distance apart, or wider as needed to accommodate your growing belly. To minimize the effort of this pose, you may choose to place a block under the bum for support. Bring your hands together, using the elbows to open the knees wider. Lower your shoulders, and maybe bring a hand to the belly to connect with the baby. Make sure the breath continues to flow smoothly, as you should not practice breath retention during prenatal yoga.
2. Dangling Pose (2 minute hold) – Forward fold with legs about mat width. Bring your feet parallel to the edges of the mat. Just inside the mat, or maybe wider depending on the size of your baby bump. Instead of folding in really close to the thighs, bring hands down onto a block in front of you. Take a generous bend in the knees. Rock some of the weight back into the heels as you counter this with the forward reach through the fingers. Drop and shake out the head. Elongate the sides of the waist. Only hold this pose for about 10 long steady breaths.
3. Deer Pose (3-4 minutes each side) – From hands and knees, bring your right knee behind the right wrist as if setting up for pigeon pose. However, let your right hip drop back to the mat. Find a 90 degree angle with your front knee – hip in line with knee, knee to ankle parallel to front of the mat. Then find a 90 degree angle with the back leg – left knee straight out from left hip, shin parallel to long edge of mat. Flex both feet. You may choose to either walk your hands behind you, as I have done in the image above, or fold over the right thigh. Whichever is accessible to you at this time in your pregnancy. Soften into the pose. As you breathe, send loving thoughts to your womb. Slowly and mindful make your way out of the pose after 3 minutes or so, then set up for the other side.
4. Neck Release – Sitting tall however is comfortable for you, drop the left ear towards the left shoulder. Keep your shin slightly lifted. To take a deeper release, crawl the right fingers out to the side, and to go further still bring left fingers to top of the head to gently increase stretch and lengthen space between shoulder and ear. After a few breaths here, roll the chin towards the left shoulder. Take some deep breaths here. Gently return the head back to center and switch to the right side.
5. Side Seal (3-4 minutes each side) – Roll onto the right hip, extending both legs out to the side. Stack one leg roughly on top of the other. Bring the right hand out to the side and set the left hand in front. If the angle is too deep, lower to your right forearm, and maybe use a block or pillow to support your right side. Drop the side and sink into the pose. Let the tension go from the jaw. If you have balance here, you may want to bring the left hand up to connect with the belly as you close your eyes. Slowly ease your way to the opposite side.
6. Wide Legged Child’s Pose – Set yourself up with lots of support as needed. The further along you are, the more support you will want. As you take the knees wide, we typically bring the toes to touch in this pose but that may not be possible, instead set a block between the feet. Let your hips sink back onto the block. As you prepare to fold forward, use cushions as needed to fill the gap between where the belly hits the mat and where your head is in relation to the mat. Let your forehead rest down, or turn to one ear.
I hope you enjoyed these poses, and found some relief while also getting a chance to connect with the growing baby inside you. If you would prefer to see me practicing alongside you, click the video below.
Thanks for trusting me to guide you through your practice at this special time. If you want to see more content like this, please do subscribe to my YouTube channel.
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