Restorative Yoga for Pregnancy
- Restorative Pregnancy Yoga is healing for the baby, body and mind.
It engages our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which takes the body into the “rest and digest” state. This state is incredibly healing. This is why after an injury, surgery or during pregnancy it’s so important to rest; we heal when we rest, and we are able to connect with baby through a very light practice, not when we run around. In this state our tissues renew and rejuvenate themselves, our cells and tissues and organs get to live out their purpose and prosper, our baby is nourished and happy. Our active Yoga practice helps to discipline our Sympathetic Nervous System, in charge of the “fight or flight” response, which is very important for our health, but we need to engage our PNS in order to relax and heal.
- Long supported holds of poses allow us to really engage in the benefits of the poses. In an active practice we don’t spend much time in each pose. For example, we can only be in a deep backbend for a few breaths before it becomes fatiguing. But in a restorative practice, the body is supported and we can stay in the poses for long periods of time and really let them do their magic. In that way the poses enhance flexibility, nourish fertility, nourish baby if pregnant, balance our hormonal activity and lymphatic system and aid our immune and digestive systems as well.
- Reduce stress.
In our fast paced lives it’s crucial for us to find time and space to be still. It’s incredibly beneficial to create space to physically let go of the hold of our muscles, release the muscle tonus, and relieve our body from chronic strain. That’s why we use props, to create a base of support that encourages us to let go.
- Create space for emotional healing.
In a way, we hold our emotional issues in our bodies. By physically toning down, deep seeded issues can come up and wash out of our systems. That’s why we may find ourselves experiencing joy, confusion, frustration, or fear during our practice, or even weeping in Savasana. This means feelings are coming up and cycling through.
For many women, prenatal yoga is the first time they’ve stepped on a yoga mat, but the classes are beneficial for experienced students, too. Although a knowledgeable yoga teacher can modify poses to fit anyone’s needs, you won’t derive the same benefits from a general class. In all likelihood, a hatha yoga teacher without prenatal training won’t have poses like Polar Bear in their back pocket, they won’t be knowledgeable about aches and pains common to pregnancy, and they won’t have the time to prop you in those delicious restorative poses. “A prenatal yoga class will meet the woman where she is. For example, Instead of having you lie down in Savasana directly on the floor, as shown above we prop you up with care to open up and relax, which can eleviate mental and physical stress of mind and joints during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and find yourself needing to modify more than half the poses in your regular yoga class, it’s a good time to make the switch to a prenatal class, I say.
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- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Relaxes the body
- Reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia
- Helps to lower blood pressure
Contraindications and Cautions
- Back injury or discomfort: Do this pose with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, hip-distance apart; either bind the thighs parallel to each other with a strap (taking care not to position the heels too close to the buttocks) or support the bent knees on a bolster.
- Pregnancy: Raise your head and chest on a bolster as show above
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