Chapter 6. Hatha yoga during pregnancy Recommendations for practice. What is Perinatal Yoga?
Now I would like to provide the reader with some information regarding the features of the practice of hatha yoga for women during pregnancy. First of all, we want to draw your attention to the fact that in the absence of obvious, direct contraindications to physical activity, a pregnant woman can and should take care of her body. Childbirth is like going to the gym. This is a completely natural, physiological process, through which a woman by nature itself is arranged independently, without external interference. If you do not put any effort on the body for 9 months, the birth itself runs the risk of being delayed and complicated, and the sensations in the following days will be unpleasant. This fact does not allow many women to enjoy the long-awaited motherhood and to pay enough attention, tenderness and care to the baby.
In addition, if a woman becomes very weak after childbirth, even in those maternity hospitals where the mother and child are expected to stay together, the baby will be taken to a separate box, since the mother simply cannot take care of him. We will talk in more detail about the paramount importance of the baby and mother staying together immediately after giving birth in the next section of the book. Now let’s consider what is recommended and what absolutely should not be done by female yogis “in position”.
Let’s start with the fact that the first trimester of pregnancy is the most delicate. The formation and attachment of the fetus and placenta occurs. The placenta continues to form and consolidate until the 16th week of pregnancy. At this time, it is advisable to be especially attentive to the entire load on the body. Very often, colds and fever appear at the very beginning. Immunity weakens its protective properties a little and allows pregnancy to gain a foothold. In no case should you take any medication aimed at treating colds. The best option is to be at home alone for a few days and let your body do its job. The second trimester is considered the best and quietest time, since the body begins to gain strength again, and the weight of the growing baby is not yet felt. In the third trimester, too, as a rule,
Recommendations for the practice of hatha yoga for women during pregnancy
|Gentle practice at a measured pace with sufficient stress on all muscle groups.||Active fast practice with power accents.|
|Shatkarmas aimed at cleansing the nasal and lacrimal canals (jala neti, sutra neti, trataka).||Shatkarmas, during the execution of which the abdominal organs are involved (kapalabhati, vamana dhauti or kunjala, shankh prakshalana, basti, etc.).|
|Chest deflections, where the buttocks are tucked up, the tailbone is tucked under itself, the shoulder blades and elbows are trying to touch behind the back.||Lumbar deflections (Urdhva mukha svanasana, Ushtrasana, Natarajasana, Bhujangasana, Urdhva Dhanurasana, etc.), because the abdominal muscles are stretched.|
|Open, light twists while inhaling are good for the spine and harmless for the abdominal cavity.||Closed twists on exhalation, during which the abdominal cavity and pelvic organs are clamped.|
|Poses for opening the hip joints (however, we exclude those where there is a strong opening of the pelvis or muscle tension).||Deep asanas for opening the hip joints (Baddhakonasana, Ardha padmasana, Padmasana, etc.) in full are permissible only if you mastered them at an advanced level before pregnancy. Otherwise, there is a risk of provoking displacements in the sacroiliac joint or sprains, which soften under the action of the pregnancy hormone relaxin.|
|Tilts to straight or bent legs from the position of the foot at the width of the pelvis or slightly wider.||Bends to straight or bent legs from the position of the feet together.|
|Balance poses on the legs that do not involve deep opening of the pelvis, tension of the abdominal muscles or traction of the back of the legs (Vrikshasana, Uttita Hasta Padangushthasana 1-2 with bent knee, Virabhadrasana 3 with arms on the wall). Not for long! With long execution, there is a rush of blood to the extremities and “stealing” of the uterus.||Balance postures on the legs with deep bending, tension of the abdomen or opening of the pelvis (Natarajasana, Virabhadrasana 3 with arms extended forward, Uttita Hasta Padangushthasana 1–2 with straightened leg).|
|Asanas for strengthening the hands (Gomukhasana for the hands, Garudasana for the hands, etc.).||Balance asanas on the hands (Ashtavakrasana, Eka pada Kaundiniasana, Kukutasana, Bhujapidasana, etc.).|
|Asanas, during the performance of which the abdominal muscles are strained (Urdhva Chaturanga Dandasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, Shirshasan, Navasana, Ardha Navasana, etc.).|
|Asanas on the stomach (Dhanurasana, Salabhasana, etc.).|
|Asanas with folded, crossed legs (Vajrasana, Virasana, Gomukhasana, Garudasana for legs, various versions of twists where legs are crossed, etc.).|
|Jumps, wide lunges, deep asanas.|
|Adapted inverted asanas (Viparita Karani mudra with bolster under the sacrum, throwing legs on the wall).||Classical inverted asanas (Salamba Sarvangasana, Halasana, Karnapidasana, etc.).|
|Soothing pranayamas (full yoga breathing, adapted from Ujayi-pranayama, Nadi Shodhana, Bramari).||Energetic pranayamas, during the performance of which the muscles of the abdominal cavity are actively involved (Bhastrika, Kapalabhati).|
|In pranayamas, training a child for hypoxia during childbirth: gradual breathing (inhalation – a second delay – pre-inhalation – a second delay, and so on until the volume of the lungs is filled with air, then a calm exhalation without delays; in the same way, we change inhalation and exhalation – a calm inhalation and gradual exhalation ) or deep long exhalation in any soothing pranayama.||Breath holding, abdominal lock of Uddiyana bandha and all techniques based on their implementation (Agnisara kriya, etc.).|
|We do all the efforts and twists while inhaling.||Efforts and twists are performed on a deep exhalation.|
Also, when practicing hatha yoga during pregnancy, it is important to observe the following points:
- When sitting on the rug, place something soft (like a blanket or bolster) under your basin. The height of the elevation should be such that the knees and hips are in the same plane with the pelvis. The knees should not stick up, causing the spine to round.
- Standing on all fours (in a cat pose), be sure to control the position of your knees and elbows. It is advisable to put a blanket under the knees. Make sure that there is no kink at the elbows. The elbows should not look back, but to the sides. This way you will avoid completely unnecessary stress on the joints.
- It is very important to learn how to correctly lie on your back and get up from supine positions (both during the practice of Hatha Yoga and in everyday life). We lie down and get up only through the side, in no case straining the abdominal muscles.
- Shavasana must also be adapted for the pregnant woman. In shavasana, you can be both lying on your back (especially in the I – II trimesters, in the III trimester it is also permissible, provided that the woman is comfortable), and lying on your side. If you choose a supine position, a bolster should be placed under the hips so that the lower back is pressed closer to the floor. The knees should be spread apart, as in Badhakonasana (butterfly pose). If you lie on your side, you need to put a bolster between your knees to relieve pressure on the perineal area, as well as to avoid skewing one of the hip joints. It is recommended to carry out in this position not only savasana after practice, but also a night’s sleep, especially in late pregnancy. However, whatever position you choose, in any case, you should put something soft under your head and cover yourself with a blanket in order to restore strength as comfortably and efficiently as possible. The desired time for shavasana after practice during pregnancy is at least 10 minutes.
“Before pregnancy, I did yoga every day for a year. Classes were held at home under the lectures of the OUM.RU club. During pregnancy, I felt great, so I did not reduce the level of difficulty and continued to practice as before. Especially my favorite practice was the video lecture by E. Androsova “Yoga for Women”. From it, I excluded only twists, asanas on the stomach and inverted asanas. Regular yoga practice helped me not to gain a lot of excess weight (9 kg) during pregnancy and prepare my abdominal muscles for a successful birth. Already on the eleventh day after giving birth, I did not have a postpartum tummy, and after three months I had a perfectly toned belly. It was the fastest recovery from childbirth, although it was the third. A month after giving birth, I returned to yoga classes in a gentle mode (yoga during menstruation),…
Yulia Skrynnikova, teacher, mother of Elizabeth, Danila and Svyatoslav.
It is, of course, very important to make an effort and practice regularly during pregnancy. Nevertheless, one should not forget about the peculiarities and delicacy of this female position, as well as the necessary preparation for childbirth and postpartum recovery. It is for such a period that perinatal yoga can be a good alternative to your usual practice.
What is its peculiarity? The prefix “peri-” is Latin for “about”. Perinatal yoga is a system of exercises and breathing techniques developed for women specifically for the “near pregnancy” periods, that is, the periods of preparation for conception, directly bearing a child and postpartum recovery with the participation of the baby in the practice. It is important to remember that this system is designed to support the body and energy of a woman at specific periods of her life (including during menstruation), but it cannot replace a full-fledged practice of hatha yoga when there is no need for it.
During the period of preparation for conception and pregnancy, this practice is very positive for maintaining the body and preparing it for childbirth, and is also the key to the most successful recovery of the female body after childbirth. Classes are usually based on the adapted asanas and breathing techniques of classical hatha yoga, however, they have the following important accents:
- Much attention is paid to working with the pelvis both in the direction of counternutation and nutation in order to improve blood circulation in the small pelvis, build the correct, even position of the pelvis, eliminate distortions, improve pelvic biomechanics for further preparation for the process of childbirth.
o Pelvic counternutation – movements and postures that involve the opening of the ilium and the convergence of the ischial bones (positions with legs apart or toes outward: Upavishta Konasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Vrikshasana, etc.).
o Pelvic nutation – movements and postures involving the opening of the ischial bones and the flattening of the ilium (positions with the feet toes inward and heels outward: Prasarita Padatonasana, Adho Mukha Shvanasana, etc.).
- An important place in practice (especially for pregnant women) is occupied by working with the perineum, training muscles and tissues before childbirth. Often combined with a special type of breathing (Ujayi pranayama with a hissing exhalation through the mouth).
- The practice is built on the basis of micro-movements, which allow you not to go to extreme positions in asanas, but just as effectively work out the body.
- Soothing breathing techniques and mantropenia are actively included in the practice to minimize the woman’s anxiety and develop contact with the baby.
“During pregnancy, I studied materials from the Internet, where experienced teachers gave advice on yoga during pregnancy. Yoga classes until the very last day of pregnancy kept my body in good shape and gave me relaxation. I think that on the day of birth I would have had time to work out if they had not started at 4 in the morning. “
Anna Solovey, musical director of the kindergarten, mother of Nadezhda.
“Until my second pregnancy, I knew about yoga in theory, but did not practice. It started with my second daughter. Where did the idea of going to yoga come from, given that the first child was 10 months old, I don’t know. I was just drawn there by a magnet. I went from 15 weeks to 38. To say that children are different (and I associate this with yoga by 90 percent) is to say nothing. Starting from a meeting in the delivery room and ending with the absence of diapers. I went to classes 2-3 times a week. The second child is infinitely calm, she did not swaddle for a day, unlike the first. She did not scream, even in the first seconds after giving birth. I clearly remember my question to the doctor: “Why doesn’t the child cry?” She sniffed something under her breath, and that’s it. In the delivery room, when she was laid on her stomach, she opened her arms and hugged me. Only for the sake of this it was worth studying together. You can explain the differences in the behavior of children by anything, of course, but when you regularly work together for 9 months, communicate, tune in, it will definitely leave a mark on your relationship from the first minute. I am very sorry that during my first pregnancy I did not even think about such a pregnancy. “
Ksenia Smorgunova, former chief accountant, mother of Arina and Polina.
“Starting from about the fifth month, every third day I made myself a fast. It was during pregnancy that I began to regularly visit the bathhouse. I went to yoga for pregnant women, where, I must admit, the load was more intense than usual. Interestingly, during pregnancy, I began to look much better than before. Of course, all these austerities were not for my beauty, but for the good development of the baby. The fact is that the baby is facing a very difficult moment – birth. It’s incredibly difficult. And throughout the pregnancy, not only the mother is preparing for childbirth, but also the child. The larger the baby, the weaker his muscles, the more difficult it is to be born. When a mother is engaged in physical activity, her breathing and heart rate become more frequent, the child experiences the same load, he also begins to behave actively, thereby he develops physically, does not gain excess weight and volume.“
Thus, the use of a special system of perinatal yoga during pregnancy is an effective tool for working with the physical and energy levels of a woman, taking into account her special situation. We will discuss the practice of postnatal yoga (yoga after childbirth) in more detail in section IV.