Prenatal Yin Yoga for Childbirth

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This practice has been inspired by the teachings of master yogi Bernie Clark.

As far as any pregnant yoga is concerned, everybody is different and what may work wonderful for one woman will be ineffective for another.  The most important thing of all is to trust your instinct.

Intention:  In prenatal yin yoga, the goal is not to go further or push yourself.  Our bodies are full of a hormone called relaxin which makes your connective tissue softer than normal.  This means it is much easier to overstress the ligaments and cartilage in your body and even overstretch and damage them.  Your intention is to create space, stimulate the meridian lines and send chi/prana/energetic love through the body (especially to your baby).

Cautions: However open or flexible you were before becoming pregnant, only go that far or even less in your poses now. Now is not the time to try to go deeper.  Hold poses for shorter durations, at most one to three minutes. Use blankets, bolsters and cushions to make yourself more comfortable and to prevent over-stretching.

Lets start …

Meditation | Generate Mindfulness :

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Ultimately, relax and distress.   Take at least 3-5 minutes to sit, lie,or stand and take inventory and note where you are starting from.  Begin by allowing your awareness to sink into your lower belly.  From here notice the rhythm of your own breath.  Rising and falling.  Exhaling and inhaling.  Without changing anything, without judging, just notice and accept the breath just as it is.

Start to spread your awareness to other feelings in the body.  Mentally send breath to any parts of your body that may be feeling intense sensations.

Pranayama | Relaxation Breathing :

Breath in slow and steady, extending the breath as long as you can (building up to 10).  Exhale the same speed and length of breath.  This breath is a hypno-birthing technique used to calm the mind. Throughout this practice, try to maintain this breath as much as you can.  The more you practice it, the easier it will be to use in the moments of very strong sensations through labor and childbirth. Spend a few minutes getting into your rhythmic prana flow before proceeding into the poses.

 

Butterfly:

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Create space for the growing belly and help to open the hips. When the feet are closer to the groin, the adductor muscles are stretched and the kidney and liver meridians stimulated.  When the feet are further out, the hamstrings get more of a stretch and the gallbladder and bladder meridians stimulated.  This is a great pose for stretching the lower back even if you do not have loose hamstrings.  This pose has a reputation for making childbirth easier.  Enough said, right?  (Liver, Kidney and Urinary Bladder lines)

From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together and then slide them away from you.  Allow your back to round, fold forward.  You can decided how much to bend your arms or to stretch them out in front of you. You can always use a cushion or bolster to elevate your hips.  Or place a bolster/ lots of pillows under your chest.  Feeling too tired, hold the feet in the same way while lying on your back.

Dragon :

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This deep hip and groin opener gets right into the hip joint, stretching the back leg’s hip flexor and quadriceps.  Support the back leg with a blanket, or keep the back knee off the floor.  (Liver, Kidney and Urinary Bladder lines)

Square:

yin yoga prenatal pregnant yoga kori hahn yoga retreat  yin yoga prenatal pregnant yoga kori hahn yoga retreat

This deep hip opener also decompresses the lower back as you move your upper body forward. The liver and kidney lines in the inner thighs are stimulated.  If it is just too much, you can always sit on a cushion.  If your knee remains very high in the air, you can move your legs further away from the body and a little wider to take pressure off the knees. (Gall Bladder and Liver lines)

Seal:

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This can be a very deep compression and stimulation of the sacral-lumbar arch, known as the “Door of Life. ”  In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed the kidneys are the batteries of our life.  This movement is giving the kidneys a deep squeeze.  You can move between this pose and wide kneed child’s pose to flush fresh blood into and out of the kidneys.  Only do this pose if you can avoid pressing the belly into the floor.  If your belly does feel compressed in Seal, try a bolster or pillow under your pubic bone and experiment with resting your hands on blocks.   (Urinary Bladder, Kidneys and Stomach Lines)

Swan:

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This is vigorous pose for opening the hips with  a moderate to strong backbend, compressed the lower back and the kidneys.  Swan pose moves lots of blood flow through the pubic region.  Take some pressure off the by placing a folded blanket under the hip of the bent knee or under the outstretched knee. (All 6 lower body meridians: Liver, Kidneys, Spleen, Stomach, Gall Bladder and Urinary Bladder)

Half Butterfly | Half frog :

yin yoga half butterfly prenatal Kori hahn

For half butterfly, stay in seal position but turning your torso and upper body to face towards your midline and walk hands away from the body.  Lean forward from your hips.  Pictured just above, a deeper side stretch is Virasana | Half frog which was one of my all time favorites while pregnant and even before as a surfer.  It is a deep rib opener and and spine stretch.  These are great for pregnant women because the legs are abducted, providing space for even the most massive of bellies.

Malasana | Squat:

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Use this hip-opening squat during your pregnancy to release tension throughout the hips and lower back and to stretch and strengthen the ankles. The pose can be an intense opener or a passive one if you choose to support yourself with props underneath your seat.  Squats can be great for preparing the body for childbirth.  In fact, Kundalini yogis are told to perform squats everyday to prepare for childbirth and bring awareness to moving the energy downward.  (Liver, Kidney and Urinary Bladder Lines)

Wide kneed child’s pose | Tadpole :

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I lived in this pose through my first and second trimester.  It is a happy marriage between the healing and restful child’s pose and the deep groin opener, frog pose.  Wide kneed child’s pose takes a lot of pressure off the lower back.  By placing the forehead | third eye on your hands or the ground, it becomes deeply a healing and restful pose, calming the mind.  (Liver, Gall Bladder and Kidney Lines)

Upward Frog:

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This deep groin opener (especially the adductors) aids digestion, and stimulates the spleen, liver, kidney.  Frog pose provides a slight backbend.  Move the hips forward if the there is a painful compression in the hips or knees.  Begin with tadpole which is a wide kneed child’s pose and only move into frog if it feels right. (Spleen, Liver, and Kidney Lines)

Shavasana/ Yoga Nidra/ Hypnobirthing : yin yoga prenatal pregnant yoga kori hahn yoga retreat shavasana

As you progress in your pregnancy you will want to transition from laying on your back to laying on your left side.  We do this to avoid pressure on the vena cava vein which moves blood from the heart to the uterus. You can put a pillow between your knees and/or under your belly for support.  With more energy flowing through the body, bring your awareness to the body.  This is an ideal time to develop your ability to feel your energies.

Here is a video of this practice: (sorry for the poor quality… it is my first attempt at a yoga video)

 

Hope your pregnancy is blissful.  Love, Kori and Salsa.

yin yoga prenatal pregnant yoga kori hahn yoga retreat