Prenatal yoga instructor Candace demonstrates some key yoga poses to help prepare your mind and body for the intensity of labour.
However you choose to exercise during pregnancy, we would recommend including regular prenatal yoga – it’s a fantastic way to build strength, stretch and relax your body and mind. Familiarity with some key yoga poses can be hugely beneficial when you give birth too.
Prenatal yoga instructor Candace, who is pregnant herself says ‘Yoga will help prepare you for a powerful yet calm and positive birth experience through strengthening, lengthening and mindfulness techniques. The postures I recommend are great poses to get into during labour, as they provide spinal comfort, hip opening and pelvic release, as well as gravity pull. Choosing a birth position that does not involve lying on your back gives you the benefit of gravity when you birth your baby.’
Below are Candace’s top yoga poses to help with labour
Chair pose is wonderful for teaching body stamina during pregnancy, something we’ll definitely need when giving birth. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, toes facing forward and bend at the knees – imaging you’re about to sit back onto a sofa (making sure they never exceed the toes). Put most of your weight into the heel of the foot; tuck your tail bone as if you’re trying to get it to look at the floor; hands gently resting on your thighs or at your heart centre in prayer or raised above your head. Keep your gaze straight ahead. This pose can also be done against a wall for extra support if needed… smile and hold for 5 – 10 deep breaths.
Get on your hands and knees, stacking wrists with shoulders and knees with hips. On the exhale, round your back – tucking chin to chest. On the inhale, come into a neutral spine or a gentle back-bend and look up at the sky. This pose helps to release pregnancy back pain. Repeat 5 times or more.
Stand with your feet wider than your hips and toes pointing outwards. Sink low, tucking your tailbone under. Go as deep as possible, opening up through the knees. Hands can rest on thighs, be in cactus or at the heart centre in prayer. Goddess pose is truly one of the best birth training postures you can practice, as it increases strength, stamina, concentration and hip flexibility.
Hold for 5 – 10 long, deep breaths.
Bring the inner soles of your feet together, sit up tall through the spine, finding any movement that feels good. You can gently lean forward or roll from side to side. This pose stretches out the inner thighs and hips, preparing the hips for the deep opening of childbirth. It also releases lower back tension and provides an optimal pelvic tilt.
Candace adds, ‘I would recommend you regularly practise Easy Pose with belly breathing, throughout your pregnancy’. Take a comfortable cross-legged seat, close your eyes and let go of thought.
INHALE slowly and deeply through your nostrils (if possible), filling your belly like a balloon, relaxing the pelvic floor.
Then EXHALE slowly through the nose, contracting and hugging your baby back towards your spine. Lift up through the pelvic floor as you do so, imagining sucking upwards through your pelvis. Repeat 10 times.
Practising this technique every day will prepare a calm mind and a strong yet flexible pelvic floor. It will also strengthen the transverse abdominis, reducing the risk of diastasis recti and pelvic floor weakness.
Enjoy guided yoga with Candace…
Enjoy mommas-to-be, I wish you all a happy, healthy pregnancy and birth! Use #YogaCandi if you’d like to share your prenatal yoga journey with me on social media.
Just remember, we’re all unique. Yoga is a safe and beneficial exercise for pregnant women but pregnancy can come with all sorts of ailments, if you have any concerns, seek advice from your health care provider before taking on any exercise regime.