Are you feeling tired? Are you tearful, anxious or simply in need of some tender loving care at the end of a long day? These experiences are widely encountered by women during the childbearing year. You are not alone! Yoga has some simple solutions to maintain your vitality, lift your spirits, calm anxiety and support good posture.
Typically, a pregnancy yoga class will offer very different practices compared to those taught in a yoga class for postnatal recovery, but there are some crucial techniques which are useful during pregnancy and after the baby has arrived. Follow the simple instructions below and experience the benefits of yoga for pregnancy and postnatal recovery. The three techniques work to free your breath, release your shoulders and settle your mind – healing mind, body and spirit.
Most importantly, yoga helps you to breathe freely and fully. Whether you are hunched over a tiny baby most of the day or caving in under the weight of a large bump or breasts, the first casualty is usually decent posture and when that suffers, it’s almost impossible to breathe well. Most moms and moms-to-be suffer feelings of exhaustion at some time; a simple way to manage your energy levels is to ensure that you breathe as fully and freely as you can. When you’re not breathing well, vitality levels plummet and no amount of sleep can pick you up off the floor.
- The first place to start is to lift the breastbone up high as you take a full and easy breath. At the same time, feel the shoulder blades moving closer together behind, down the back, lengthening your neck. Next time the breath comes in, you will feel the rib cage expanding sideways, whilst the shoulder blades continue to slide down and back. On the exhale, let out a huge sigh. Breathe like this for about five rounds to open up space in the chest and lift the spirits, enhancing your energy levels.
- When you sense some free movement in and around the rib cage, then begin to move the shoulders with your breath. As you breathe in, lift the tops of both shoulders up as high as they can go, and squeeze them tight. As you breathe out let the shoulders drop down low, releasing your neck. Repeat about seven times, sighing on the exhale. Notice how much freer and more open the neck and upper back feel.
- My last top tip is ‘Ujayii’ breath to calm the mind and boost vitality. When you exhale next, open your mouth and let out the sound of ‘HAAA’, feeling the sound in your throat. Do this a couple of times as preparation and then close the mouth, relax the jaw and throat and let the same sound and feeling of the breath in the throat continue now even as the breath comes and goes through the nose. There will be a soft slight snoring sound coming now from the throat: this is ‘ujayii’ breath. It has the magical effect of slowing and calming the mind by slowing and calming the breath. Next time you’re feeling anxious or tense, give it a try. Even just half a dozen rounds of breath can transform your day.