Top 5 Poses for An Empowered Pregnancy

Usha Anandi. 27 | JANUARY | 2020

The way you move your body during a movement practice entrains it to move through life in a certain way.

The way you practice is the way you live.

After working in the field of birth for years, I have seen the first-hand immense wisdom, primal instinct, and sheer power that pregnant people contain within them.

One of the things that drives me insane is the widespread belief that during pregnancy mothers are fragile, delicate beings that should walk around the world fearful of everything in order to protect themselves and their babies.

I mean come on, they are about to face one of the most courageous initiations in life – why are we treating them like they’re fragile?

Mothers don’t need to be surrounded by unsolicited advice, horror stories, or projections during their pregnancy – they deserve a safe, sacred, and masterfully guided space that reminds them of their POWER.

That’s why I’ve spent years developing and fine-tuning our world-renowned 85-Hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training, to provide accessible, revolutionary education for the yoga teachers, doulas, midwives, nurses, doctors, childbirth educators, mothers, and truly ANYONE who feels called to support mothers on their journey.

Before I share with you my top 5 poses for an empowered pregnancy, let’s talk about what an ‘empowered’ pregnancy means.

Many births in our modern world are driven by a highly medicalized, intervention-based, money-making system. We only need to watch this amazing movie to understand how our medical care for mothers and baby has shifted in the last one hundred and fifty years.

Humanity exists today because of one simple fact – womxn give birth.

Our bodies are infused with a primal intelligence that is often misunderstood and forgotten by our modern medical system.

To have an empowered pregnancy means to be equipped with the education and emotional support to make an informed decision as to what is best for the Mother and baby.

An empowered pregnancy means giving yourself permission to cultivate a sense of presence in a place that exists beyond the fear, judgment, and projections of the modern medical system.

It means knowing that your birth is uniquely yours. That no book, doctor, midwife, friend, or relative can ever explain to you how your birth will be. It means facing the fact that no one can ‘deliver’ your baby for you – that your body is equipped with all the wisdom, knowledge, and instinctual knowing it needs.

It means courageously opening up to the unknown – because even in the most modern and technologically advanced care, we never know how birth is going to go.

What we practice, we become.

That’s why our Prenatal yoga method is so powerful – it offers mothers the opportunity to find their inner source of power through breath and movement, guided by the encouragement of the teacher who continuously educates them with tools to believe in the wisdom of their body as the guide.

I love Prenatal yoga so much that I practice it every day in my own personal practice, even though I’m not pregnant!

Below I’ve included my top 5 postures for an empowered pregnancy.

Please note, if you’re currently pregnant pleaaase consult your primary health care provider before practicing these postures.

And as you practice, remember to listen to your body. As one of my favorite yoga teachers, Vanda Scaravelli, says “Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose.”

1. Easy Pose

Sukhasana

Good for first, second, and third trimesters

The simplest postures bring the most profound results.

As one of my teachers, Judith Lasater, says, “the asana (pose) is not the yoga, it’s the residue it leaves.”

This posture supports mothers in cultivating a sense of ease, peace, and comfort in their body during moments of stillness. Learning how to tap into this sense of softness and centeredness is essential to truly take advantage of the brief moments of rest offered between contractions of labor. As many mothers will tell you, moments of aloneness are often few and far between – so developing a capacity to truly enjoy and sink into a state of serenity, no matter how brief, can be an invaluable skill that the mother can carry with her long after pregnancy is over.

In a world that programs us to constantly do, create, and produce more, taking moments of rest is an empowering act of rebellion.

Benefits of this Posture

  • Creates space in both the energetic, astral and the physical spine
  • Alleviates lower back pain by lengthening muscles of the low back
  • Improves digestion by stimulating blood flow in the abdominal organs
  • Balances all Chakras

Precautions

  • Mothers who feel numbing or tingling in their legs or feet may feel more comfortable using a bolster, pillow, or folded up blanket underneath the hips to raise them higher than the knees.

2. Garland Pose

Malasana

May feel supportive for the first, second, and third trimesters

The Earth is our greatest ally in coming home to our bodies and to the Truth of ourselves. Half the work of labor is to surrender and allow the power of the contractions to rush through the body and open up space for baby to move through the pelvis. It’s no wonder that mothers have been using this posture for thousands of years to support them in surrendering to the support of gravity and the immense opening power of contractions during labor.

Many of the mothers I’ve worked with are encouraged to opt for cesarean birth rather than a vaginal birth due to the size of their pelvis. Often it’s not the size of the mother’s pelvis that’s the problem, it’s the position they’re in.

Mothers who lay down on their back during labor may have a harder time during birth due to two factors:

  • When the body is in a prone position, the pelvis is often in a posterior tilt, which makes the birth canal smaller (by up to 30%)
  • The natural function of the uterus during labor is to contract forward and down. If a mother is laying on her back, her uterus has to work extra hard to support the birth of baby since it’s fighting against the force of gravity.

But don’t fear – malasana is here!

Did I mention that this posture increases the width of the birth canal by up to 30% and supports optimal functioning of the uterus during labor?

This position is such a powerful way to entrain the muscles of the pelvic floor to soften, open, and relax – just like they’ll need to during birth.

I’m all about supplying my students with positions that they can actually use during birth. That way once labor begins, they have a whole repertoire of positions they can choose from that’s already ingrained in their body’s muscle memory.

Even though I’m a huge fan of this position, remember that there is no perfect position for birth. What a mother loves during pregnancy, they may hate during their actual birth. That’s why it’s important that they learn multiple positions that they can switch back and forth between at any time.

Benefits of this Posture

  • Releases tension by opening muscles of the groin
  • Lengthens low back muscles and encourages release in pelvic floor
  • Increases the cross sectional opening of the birth canal by up to 30%
  • Creates space for intuitive movement for intimate connection with breath and baby
  • Forms muscle memory for the Mother to practice for possible use of this posture during birth
  • Helps to increase pressure on the cervix, encouraging the process of dilation during labor
  • Encourages the proper drainage of fluids during and after labor to help avoid infections
  • Balances the Muladhara, Svadhisthana, and Anahata Chakras

Precautions

  • Mothers who are aware that their baby is currently breech should avoid lowering into a full expression of this posture.
  • This posture should be avoided during the early stage of labor.
  • For those who experience pubic symphysis pain or discomfort, avoid lowering into a full expression of this posture.
  • This posture should be avoided during the postpartum period of healing.

3. Lying Down Restorative

Savasana

May feel supportive for the first, second, and third trimesters

Most mothers know that they need to rest more, they just don’t know HOW. Learning how to rest meaningfully is one of the most important skills pregnant mothers can develop during their practice to use after birth and during motherhood.

To rest meaningfully is to disengage with the external world to turn inwards and become fully absorbed in your inner Universe. When the body is supported by sufficient props like in this posture, the nervous system can be consciously manipulated into a state of total relaxation and healing.

Benefits of this Posture

  • Releases tension in the pelvis, alleviating pain and aiding those who experience sciatica
  • Encourages a parasympathetic nervous system state of rest and relaxation in the body
  • Balances the Muladhara Chakra

Precautions

  • Students should be guided to lay on the left side for side-laying restorative postures

4. Goddess Pose

Deviasana

Good for first, second, and third trimesters

Just like a mama wolf would be fierce protecting her cubs, sometimes pregnant mothers are equipped with a primal, animal instinct to protect their babies.

This posture supports the mother in remembering their power by cultivating internal heat and strengthening the major muscle groups that support an active, engaged birth.

Benefits of this Posture

  • Strengthens the quadriceps and gluteal muscles
  • Stimulate the kidney meridian and supports fluid balance in the body
  • Helps prepare body for the process of birth
  • Lengthens and opens the muscles of the groin, increasing awareness in the pelvis
  • Revitalizes the heart and encourages deeper, fuller breathing
  • Connects Mother with her wildness and power
  • Balances the Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, and Anahata Chakras

Precautions

  • This asana should be avoided during the postpartum period of healing.

5. Cat-Cow

Marjaryasana

May feel supportive for the first, second, and third trimesters

Please note: mothers in their second and third trimesters may want to open their knees wider than their hips to create ample space for baby.

Another amazing posture for giving birth, marjaryasana offers a foundation for intuitive, instinctual, breath-centered movement. When a mother practices moving in a more fluid way during pregnancy, it may support them in moving this way during birth.

Benefits of this Posture

  • Strengthens the quadriceps and gluteal muscles
  • Warms up all sections of the spine
  • Prepares spine for the following asana
  • Relieves tension in the pelvic floor by softening the muscles of the back
  • Balances all seven chakras
  • Connects Mothers with inner guidance by allowing for intuitive movement

Precautions

  • Mothers who are in their third trimester should bring awareness to possible hyperextension in the lumbar spine due to the gravitational pull of baby.

Do you feel the call to support, uplift, and embolden mothers on their childbearing journey?

Calling all yoga teachers, doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, doctors, nurses, mothers, and all those who feel the call to provide accessible, transformational support for mothers and babies.

If you’re ready to focus on your own womb-healing and unearth your inner wisdom while learning tools to support others in doing the same, this training is for you.

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2020-09-04T11:30:28+00:00