Holiday Yoga: A Prenatal Practice

Yoga Matrika is going to be offering a limited number of prenatal yoga classes during the holidays.  In case you don’t live in Pittsburgh and have found this practice online, Yoga Matrika offers prenatal yoga classes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The good news about this practice is that you can do it anywhere!

We all know that even a few stretches and relaxation exercises can make a huge difference in how we feel during pregnancy.  During the holidays, our diets and schedules change and this makes it even more important that we maintain our practice.  Here is a very short practice that is appropriate for pregnant women that you can do at home, if you are traveling or wherever you roam.  For all you Pittsburgh-based Matrika Mammas, I look forward to seeing you again in person for class in the new year!

Center & Breathe

First step, find a comfortable seat.  You do not have to be sitting on the floor and if you are at all swollen or feel any aches, it may be best for you to sit in a chair.  If you are seated in a chair, you want to just sit on the front edge of the chair (not leaning back and resting on the seat back) and make sure that your feet are firmly placed on the ground.  If this is uncomfortable due to the height of the chair, you can place support under your feet (yoga blocks, phone books, etc.).  Just make sure that you have balanced support under each side of the body.  From here, take one palm and rest it over your heart center and another hand over your belly.  Very gently start to take deep breaths.  Feel the front of your body rise with the in-breath and as you exhale, release the full breath and any tension you might be holding in your body.  You can do this for as long as you like, but even taking 5-10 deep breaths will help you feel much more centered and relaxed.

Relax Back and Hips

Come down onto your hands and knees and practice cat/cow.  Keep your neck relaxed and focus on the gentle forward and back sway of the pelvis.  You can do as few of these or as many of these as you like.  If you feel tight through the hips or have low back tension, you may also want to take your hips in circles.  It can be helpful to imagine that you have a paintbrush dangling from your navel and that you are making perfect circles on the floor beneath you.  Move as slowly or as quickly as feels right to you.

Energize the Body and Release Tension

Practice Warrior II pose on the right and left sides of the body.  Focus on opening your heart, relaxing the shoulders and keep your bent knee (the front knee) coming out directly over the ankle.  Use your inner thigh strength to deepen the stretch and keep your knee in a healthy position.  The back leg is straight and you are opening through the pelvis.  Gently tuck your sitting bones under you to lengthen the low back and release low back strain.  Breathe!

Relax the hips & Stretch the Back

Come into Cobbler’s Pose.  With the soles of your feet together, take deep breaths into the body.  If you are rounded through the low back, place a folded blanket, towel or pillow under your sitting bones.  You can sit here and breathe for as long as you like.  If you would like to stretch the back body, then allow yourself to round forward as far as you feel comfortable.  Keep your shoulders relaxed and breathe.

Deep Relaxation

It is very important to actively relax the body for a few minutes each and every day.  This is different from napping or sleeping.  Find a comfortable position for your body lying on the floor—-if it feels good, then it is safe.  Bring your awareness to your feet and actively and systematically relax your body from your toes to the crown of your head.  You may want to purchase a deep relaxation tape or download a Yoga Nidra from iTunes.  It can be helpful to choose some beautiful music or chanting that you enjoy and play that while you relax.

Enjoy the holidays and new year Matrika Mammas!  Check out our new Pregnancy and Postnatal website.  Please do not practice yoga if any of these exercises make you uncomfortable, cause pain or if your care provider has put you on bed rest or encouraged you to limit physical activity.  You should never feel pain in your yoga practice, pregnant or not, and these are not exercises you should “push through” or force yourself to do.  All of these suggested exercises should feel good and relieve tension and strain in your body.

This practice was designed with love by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, the owner of Yoga Matrika and director of all Matrika Prenatal programs.  Currently, our classes, workshops and Childbirth Education programs are mostly held in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Please feel free to contact Sharon directly with any questions (412) 855-5692.

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